Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his company’s motives in a recent statement:
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
To this end, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will prioritize posts from friends and family, as well as groups that the individual belongs to, over public content. The goal is to create a more positive and satisfying user experience by promoting and supporting more meaningful and personal interactions between people. These include posting personal news and information (often called “organic sharing”) rather than passing on existing content such as professionally produced videos, articles and images.
A move away from “passive” social media consumption
Late last year, Facebook released commentary on the “passive” use of social media. This involves posts that people scroll through or consume without really engaging. Even likes and shares are viewed as superficial interactions – with the tech giant prioritising posts that garner deeper engagement, such as comments where users contribute their own opinions, thoughts and anecdotes.
The reason for this is that people are more likely to put time and effort into creating their own content when they really care (or feel strongly) about something. So, organic sharing correlates with experiences that are personal, emotional or meaningful for the individual.
Where does this leave brands?
This change is not yet in effect and it’s difficult to predict exactly how the new curation process will work. But it’s clear that fewer posts from companies will make it into people’s news feeds.
“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,” Zuckerberg added.
In other words, users are likely to see more posts from people they’re connected to in their News Feeds, rather than content posted by the Pages they follow. As a brand, this does limit your organic reach.
Or – looking at it from a different perspective – it means that you will not be able to continue with business as usual when it comes to getting eyes on your content and building your Facebook communities. The new Facebook News Feed algorithm is likely to value content from pages that has garnered interest in the form of comments, shares and conversations among friends and family.
It’s also important to remember that this change does not focus on paid content. Facebook ad rankings are not going to be affected by this update to the News Feed algorithm.
Some recommendations for brands going forward
Be even more strategic about content
Now, you do not only have to create content that’s relevant, but also content that incites comments and conversations. You need to find a way to really engage your target audience, on matters that mean something to them.
Now, more than ever, you need to create videos, news articles and posts that:
- Pique your fans’ interest
- Inspire them to share – opinions, tips, advice or ideas
- Draw them into conversations (with your brand as well as their own communities)
Facebook will be favouring lengthy comments over short ones, so think of ways to encourage and reward your audience for taking the time to type more than a few words.
Use groups wisely
The purpose of Facebook groups is to create communities of people who share the same interest or passion, providing a space for people to connect, chat, support, help, inform and inspire on issues that mean something to them. With the Facebook algorithm prioritising content posted to groups, this is a good time to join relevant groups. You can use these as a platform to gain a deeper understanding of your customers – and add value by answering questions, offering advice, suggesting solutions and more. Another option is to create your own Facebook group that focuses on a topic on which you’re an expert. If you’re an organic retailer, for example, you could focus on the organic lifestyle, providing tips, advice, recipes and so forth.
Invest time in live video
Live video is another key focus area going forward – with longer videos (at least 10 minutes) gaining more traction, according to Facebook. These videos appear in the News Feed and on your page while they are live, offering a unique and engaging way for you to connect with your audience in real-time, which really adds authenticity to the experience. Be sure to reply to comments in real-time, to show your appreciation and hopefully also incite more, in-depth commentary (which ranks well, as discussed). It’s also essential to let people know that you’ll be streaming live a day or so before they need to tune in. And don’t be shy to ask your audience to hit on the “Follow” button on your video. This way, they get notifications next time you’re live.