Facebook recently announced significant changes to their news feed algorithm that will prioritize human interactions over branded content. CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited a desire, “…to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”
Change has been in the air for some time as Facebook spent the better part of last year under governmental scrutiny for its role in spreading misinformation and fake news. Additionally, in its Q4 earnings report, Facebook posted a decline in its daily active user base (albeit small) for the first time ever.
The extent to which publishers and brands would be impacted by these impending changes was uncertain. The announcement provided more insight, but the true impact remains to be seen.
“As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
As expected, the reaction from the ad community was another round of eye rolling directed at a media outlet notorious for changing their algorithms with little to no advance notice. Marketers are often left in the lurch scrambling to explain to clients why ad performance changes dramatically from one week to the next. Thankfully this go-around, Facebook has provided advertisers enough advance notice to begin making adjustments to their content strategies.
Here are 5 shifts marketers should make now to help brands prepare for these changes.
1. Develop more meaningful content that actively engages consumers and encourages a dialogue within the community. The key is figuring out how to loop in brand relevant messages at the same time.
2. Move away from any content using engagement bait as Facebook has already called this out as a behavior they will penalize.
3. Be prepared to pay more to maintain on par results with past ad performance. Organic reach has been on the decline for quite some time and this may be the final nail in the coffin.
4. Produce higher quality video content that actively engages viewers. Even better if it’s live video. Facebook’s not-so-secret ambitions crystalized last year with the introduction of Watch. Growing their video platform will continue to be a key focus for the publisher moving forward.
5. Look at creating groups to help build your community. Groups operate on the basis of audience engagement, so this is a tactic likely to perform well under the new algorithm.