Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of news feed, described Facebook’s newest change as “bigger than the average tweak … It’s not a tweak.”
Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, dubbed it “Facebook Zero,” and Contently described it as the “Facebook apocalypse.”
It might just be all three.
In mid-January, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled an overhaul to Facebook’s algorithm, one that possibly spells disaster for business pages. Rather than pontificate on death’s door, here are the CliffsNotes:
The Main Shift
Previously, Facebook aimed to connect users with relevant content. Now, the algorithm will prioritize meaningful interactions between people, not between pages and people. Think … posts by people who ask for recommendations or who share personal stories that spark heartfelt responses.
Who Matters? People. Real, actual people, not businesses or news sources. This overhaul places a premium on people who are in your network as well.
What Matters? Previously, the Facebook algorithm evaluated successful posts by the amount of time spent and the number of likes. The new system values post engagement in the form of comments. Lengthy, meaningful comments that require time and effort score far higher than short, monosyllabic quips.
(Facebook spells it out in its short video.)
Straight from Marky Mark (Zuckerberg) himself — content from pages will increasingly disappear from news feeds. Reach, views and referral traffic will decrease to pages, including the Facebook content darling itself: video. Facebook will view this as a passive media type. (Note: video is not disappearing or becoming obsolete; we’ll need to adjust how we utilize it!) Overall time on Facebook will decrease while, Facebook predicts, quality of interaction will increase. And while the shift will start in the news feed, it will eventually infiltrate the entire platform.
Why the Change?
Facebook adopts a psychological stance on this one. Passive scrolling and empty interaction on Facebook, it says, decreases quality life. Meaningful, engaged interaction that requires effort and time investment add value and boost positive feelings. Hence, it seems that Facebook is striving to bolster our quality of life.
But back to business … now what?
First and foremost, don’t panic. Here’s what we see as promising grounds so far.
1. Ad Campaigns. There’s little chance that Facebook will hamstring its revenue source: ads. Begin to beef up your ad strategy, solidifying campaigns and goals to increase website traffic and nurture conversions. While many predict that costs for campaigns will rise as supply and demand adjusts, ads are currently still a firm method to connect with your consumers. (P.S. Check out a few tips here.)
2. Live Videos (and others). Live videos seem to be a slight exception to Facebook’s new rules. It encourages viewers to actively engage with both the content creator and with other viewers. Video, in general, is not dying, especially with recently launched features like Facebook Watch. So don’t ditch your cameras yet! Just stay tuned for ways to create “thumb stopping” content that will illicit comments and shares.
3. Encourage “See First.” For now, train your followers to mark your page as “See First,” affording your business content some priority in their news feeds.
4. Explore Using Messenger Bots. These “behind-the-scenes” bots can deliver ad content, answer questions and help streamline the sales process beyond standard news feed content or ads. Jon Loomer shares tips on leveraging Facebook Messenger ads.
5. Avoid Engagement Baiting. Facebook has made it clear that they will demote pages and posts that use engagement baiting to artificially increase post engagement. Asking fans to like, share, comment or tag friends are examples of engagement baiting. It’s a no-no.
6. Diversify. Psssst. Don’t forget; Facebook isn’t the only platform to nurture your fan base and gain customers. Now is the time to revisit your content marketing and broad social media strategy.
As marketers, we now need to consider how to create conversations between people, not between our followers and the page. Also evaluate how investing time in this Facebook shift supports — if at all — your core business goals.
In essence, Facebook has transformed from a broadcast platform into a coffee house table for thoughtful conversation. Pour a cup of joe and chat.
Need some help revamping your Facebook strategy? We’re here to help.