What do Facebook’s latest changes mean for your business?
If you’re using Facebook for business, you’ve probably heard about the major changes to the news feed algorithm and the platform’s mission to revert to its roots as a site for online socialising.
Facebook’s goal now is to prioritise content from “friends, family and groups” over content from brands. This means that you may be more likely to see more pictures of your friend Mike’s dog or Sarah’s holiday snaps and fewer articles from the BBC, or posts from KFC and other brands using the platform.
While it’s great that Facebook is trying to create a better user experience and pushing for meaningful interactions between its users, what does this mean for your business? Should you be worried? And should you continue to use Facebook to share content, engage with customers and promote your business?
To answer these questions, we’ll start by sharing what we know so far about the update and then give you some tips on what you can do to continue reaching customers on Facebook.
How is the news feed changing?
As stated in the official announcement, Facebook’s new mission is to encourage interaction and meaningful conversation between users. This means that posts from news outlets and the brands you follow and whose content you passively consume will take a back seat. Instead your news feed will be populated with more updates from your friends, family and groups.
Here’s Mark’s posts where he talks about the change and the reasons behind it:
What does this mean for your organic Facebook presence?
In a post titled “Bringing people closer together” Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook, outlined the changes in detail. Mosseri explained that the algorithms will determine which content has the potential to spark meaningful “back-and-forth discussion” and that’s the content they’ll show higher in the news feed.
When it comes to what this means for Pages, Mosseri says:
“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”
If you’re wondering whether there’s a way for your fans to still see your posts at the top of their news feed, there is. This involves asking and convincing them to adjust their News Feed Preferences so they choose the “See First” option for your page.
But here’s the thing: if you want your fans to choose to see your content at the top of their news feed, you’ll need to convince them it’s worth it. If your content is boring and irrelevant to them, don’t be surprised if they choose not to continue seeing your content.
But if your content consists of helpful, relevant and entertaining news, events, how-tos and videos that provide value and spark conversation, then you shouldn’t be too worried about losing all your audience and organic reach (which has already been dropping in favour of ads and sponsored content).
How to continue reaching customers on Facebook
Facebook is a business after all, so of course selling advertising space is how the platform makes money. This means that if you want to continue reaching your audience on Facebook, you’ll also need to invest more in ads.
If you’ve not already used Facebook ads for your business, we’ve got you covered with a free course on social media advertising. In it you’ll find all the information you need about Facebook advertising, from ad types and targeting to how to track and measure your results.
But Facebook ad campaigns aren’t the only way to maintain or grow your business presence on this platform. Here are a few other key things you should do to continue reaching your customers on Facebook in a post-news feed world.
Create engaging, quality content that prompts comments
Facebook’s news feed change is a result of the significant increase in low-quality, “engagement-bait” content shared by brands. So their way to try and fix this is to downgrade fluff content and instead show off content that inspires “meaningful conversation”. This means valuable content that people not only like and share but also comment on.
In his announcement, Zuckerberg wrote that “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
So if you want to continue to reach your audience on Facebook, you’ll need to step up your game. This means creating quality content that provides value and sparks conversations between users. This can include anything from timely, relevant topics that users can share their opinions on to questions or live videos that’ll get them talking.
When you’re creating your next piece of content for Facebook, ask yourself not only if it’s valuable and relevant to your audience, but also if and how you can use it to encourage meaningful conversation between users.
The points is that when your fans engage and comment on your posts, the chances are their friends and family will also see your posts and maybe want to join the conversation as well, thus increasing your reach further.
Don’t fall into the “engagement-bait” trap
Now that Facebook looks at comments as a way to determine engagement and “meaningful interaction”, you might be tempted to be start asking your fans to “comment on this post if you like chocolate, share if you like ice cream”. Don’t be that brand. That brand isn’t fun or engaging or helpful. It’s annoying and desperate, and no one is going to want to join that kind of conversation.
Facebook knew that there will be those kinds of brands that will try to hack the new algorithm using “engagement-bait” tactics. Here’s Facebook’s response to them: “Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”
Take advantage of Facebook Live videos
Videos are a fantastic tool to get people’s attention, but live videos are even better. Zuckerberg pointed out in his announcement that “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
So if you haven’t already used Facebook Live, now’s the time to start. Our guide on Facebook Live walks you through what it is and how it works, as well as the many ways you can use it to connect with your fans and entice them to join the conversation.
Get social on Facebook Groups
If you’re using Facebook but not Facebook groups, you’re missing out on a fantastic tool to spark and to monitor interesting conversations and to connect with your audience.
When you join or create a relevant group, you have the unique opportunity to build trust and leadership by sharing great content and advice, and engaging in conversation with your prospects. In fact, when used right, a Facebook group can help you to build a highly engaged community of individuals who are likely to be interested in your business.
So make sure you look into how you join or create relevant groups on Facebook, and how you can use them to reach more customers.
Here are two useful resources to get you started with Facebook Groups:
- Why you should create a Facebook Group for your business
- How to use Facebook Groups to support and market your business
Use micro-influencers to reach more fans
Facebook wants to show users less business content and more “people content”, meaning content from individual users. For the time being, no one is excluding micro-influencers from this category.
Micro-influencers are individuals who usually have less than 100,000 followers but their audience is highly engaged and interested in the content they share. This means that their followers are eager to listen but also to like, share and comment on the things micro-influencers post about.
So, if you can find ways to work with micro-influencers who speak to your target audience, you can increase the chances of reaching more customers in the news feed.
Read more about influencers, why they’re important and how they help spread the word about your business, and not just on Facebook:
- How micro-influencers are becoming essential to marketers
- A small business owner’s guide to building relationships with influencers
- Six examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns, and how to apply them to your business
Yes, the Facebook news feed change can be scary, but the brands that should be more worried are those that haven’t been focusing on providing value to their fans.
The takeaway is this: content that doesn’t inspire meaningful interaction won’t appear as prominently in the news feed as it used to. But content that’s useful and engaging, and gets people talking will be favoured more highly.