All About Algorithms: 8 Ways Brands Can Adapt to Facebook's Ever-Changing News Feed
It was the algorithm change heard round the world…the brand marketing world, that is.
In January, Facebook announced big changes to its News Feed algorithm, which will now prioritize content from friends, family, local news and groups over that from brands, businesses and media companies. Think: less Buzzfeed listicles or Tasty cooking videos and more photos of your best friend’s trip to Europe.
But wait, WHY?!
The change comes as part of a larger shift in Facebook’s focus, from helping users find relevant content to helping them have more meaningful social interactions.
In a post announcing the news, Mark Zuckerberg shared, “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos – even if they’re entertaining or informative – may not be as good… At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together -- whether it's with family and friends, or around important moments in the world – we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.”
It’s worth noting that Facebook has also caught a lot of slack in the past year and a half, being called out by critics (and Congress) for allowing the spread of hate speech, fake news and other unwanted content.
We’ll let you decide for yourselves if that played a role in the algorithm adjustment. But regardless of the “why,” the question that’s on everyone’s mind now is, “what does this mean for my brand?”
Here’s what the Facebook algorithm change means for you and your business.
First, and arguably most importantly, you should expect to see a significant decrease in your organic reach over the next few months as the algorithm changes roll out. More and more, Facebook will prioritize engaging content from your fans’ friends, families and local news sources over your company’s unpaid posts.
This is nothing new, as Facebook has been rolling back organic reach for quite some time, but the latest update means that from here on out, organic content simply isn’t going to cut it.
You should also anticipate your audience spending less time on the platform. Don’t get us wrong – Facebook still leads the pack with 2 billion+ active monthly users, but Zuckerberg himself has acknowledged that “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down” due to the change.
Silver lining: the hope is that, while audiences will spend less hours per day mindlessly scrolling through their feeds, the time they do spend on the platform will be spent meaningfully engaging with content that matters to them.
Now, we realize these changes can be scary for brands that depend on Facebook to reach their audiences, build awareness and drive sales. But don’t worry – at Approach, we’ve encountered countless algorithm changes over the years, and we’ve helped clients navigate them every step of the way.
Here, we’ve compiled our top tips to help your brand survive (and thrive) on Facebook, despite the latest algorithm changes.
- Invest in Paid Media
As of right now, organic brand content will be deprioritized on Facebook, but paid content will not. So, if you don’t currently have a paid media strategy, create one. If you do, now is the time to revisit it to make sure it’s as effective as possible. Know your target audience and be intentional with your budgets and content to make sure your valuable ad dollars are working hard for you.
- Partner with Influencers
Facebook’s algorithm change is all about connecting users with meaningful content that matters to them. The beauty of influencer relationships are that they already operate under this model. These individuals have dedicated followings because they have a unique voice that resonates with their audience. Businesses should look to partner with influencers who have a strong and authentic connection with their brand – and who have a deep understanding of their followers – to spread their message.
- Create Better Content
It seems so simple, but Content. Is. King. Make sure your content is meaningful – not promotional – and that posts are developed with audience engagement in mind. That being said, steer clear of “engagement-baiting” tactics (AKA asking fans to comment if they love chocolate), which will turn audiences off and quickly be demoted in the News Feed. When in doubt, ask yourself if your post is likely to spark conversation or comments from your fans. If the answer is “yes,” post away.
- Get Your Followers Talking
Users are more likely to see your content if their friends and family are commenting on it. Go beyond the baseline engagement tactics on your posts – answering questions, addressing concerns, liking comments – to actively generate conversations in the comment thread.
- Invest Time in Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups are a natural tool for building meaningful connections with users. Look for new ways to engage fans in groups – such as ‘super fan’ groups – to increase engagements and interactions with these important audiences. If you’re new to Facebook Groups, this article can help you get started.
- Go Live
Videos – and live videos in particular – are still favored by the new algorithm. In his post announcing the algorithm changes, Zuckerberg hinted that live videos are the way to go, mentioning that they’ve “seen people interact way more around live videos that regular ones.” And he wasn’t kidding. Live videos, on average, bring in six times as many interactions as regular videos. Let the streaming commence.
- Leverage Chat Bots
Chat bots and messaging have been a major focus for Facebook and marketers lately. Chat bots, or messenger bots, are autonomous digital messages that can provide automated response, answer questions and be programmed with Artificial Intelligence. Try using them to improve customer service and drive engagements with new and existing fans.
- Enlist the Help of an Agency
Now more than ever, it’s not enough to simply have a social media presence. You have to properly build and manage each platform. If your company currently sees social media management as a secondary focus or a responsibility to leave to an intern, you’re likely to struggle with the latest algorithm changes. Partnering with an experienced agency can help ensure you’re being deliberate and thriving with your strategy, particularly when it comes to paid advertising and audience engagement.
Interested in learning more about our social media management services? We’re happy to help. Approach us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.