Last week, Facebook announced it was making changes to its platform, with the intention of bringing friends and family closer together. However, the changes also bring more bad news for brands.
In a post on the 11th January, Mark Zuckerberg claimed he had gotten feedback from Facebook’s community that posts from businesses, brands and media were “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”. He also said the balance of people’s news feed had shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do, which is to help people connect with each other.
Why the change has happened
The reasoning behind this change came from recent research Facebook conducted with a number of universities. The research found a link between using social media to connect with people we care about has a correlation with long term measure of happiness and health. They therefore argued that passively reading articles or watching videos may not be as good, even if they’re still entertaining or informative to the user.
In order to achieve their aim of ensuring Facebook remains all about making and maintaining personal connections, it decided to change its algorithms.
The result is brands are now punished for using the platform as a way to reach their audiences.
How the new algorithm works
The new algorithm will decide which posts people are likely to want to interact with their friends about, and prioritise these to show higher up in news feed.
Facebook will use signals, such as how many people react, comment or share posts to also determine how high they appear in news feed, with a priority on posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.
It’s now an uncertain time for brands that use Facebook for business purposes as to how much they’ll appear in their audience news feed. Brands will have to adapt to ensure they’re always posting engaging and quality content that encourages conversation between their audience in the form of comments on their posts.
How brands should use Facebook now
One way brands can ensure their content is getting seen by their audience is to ask their followers to “follow” their page and to choose the “See First” option. The users that select this option will always see posts from their favourite pages in their news feed.
However, brands need to be careful that they’re avoiding using “engagement-bait”. This is where people are asked to interact with likes, comments, and shares, for example “like this if you agree”. Facebook now considers these types of posts as “spammy” and brands that use this tactic will find their posts are punished even further.
More time and money will need to be put into Facebook ads, particularly with the increasing decline in organic reach over the past few years. Brands will need to be more strategic in who their ads target too, identifying the specific audience for each ad to ensure their money is well spent on reaching the right people.
There is some good news with the new algorithm, with videos still being favoured. Live videos in particular will be even more important with Zuckerberg claiming “live videos get on average six times as many interactions as regular videos”. For brands, this is the type of content that is likely to perform well under the new algorithm, and definitely something that is worth time being invested in.
We have plenty of experience working on social media campaigns, as well as in traditional and digital PR. For more information, email Jaime@jampr.co.uk or call the office on 0161 850 0565