The ’Rithm is Gonna Get You
May 30th, 2018
Is Facebook’s algorithm change singing the blues for marketers?
The changes Facebook made to its News Feed Algorithm has many marketers wondering if the popular social media platform will lose some of its effectiveness in reaching audiences. While it’s true there will be an impact, with the right approach, Facebook still can be a valuable tool.
BCH has had an eye on this change since it was announced. Here’s what we know:
The Facebook News Feed Algorithm is the system that determines what content users see when they login to Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s announcements earlier this year stressed the change would focus on improving the visibility of content that creates “conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” This represents a shift in the algorithm toward content shared by friends and family over brands and advertisers.
“Facebook will be prioritizing posts that create meaningful conversations, especially those from family and friends.” – Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed
Facebook has made similar announcements regarding News Feed algorithm changes in 2014 and 2016. This one was slightly different in that it was announced during a period of scrutiny surrounding Facebook regarding the topics of bot networks, fake news, oversaturation of advertisers and personal data being shared with outside parties.
What Does this Mean for My Brand on Facebook?
Brands and advertisers will not be shut out entirely from the News Feed, instead they will have to compete for less space. Brands and advertisers wishing to be seen in this more limited space will need to focus more on their content. Both announcements stressed the idea of promoting posts that create “meaningful interactions.” But what does that mean?
While Facebook will not release the components and weight of items its algorithm considers when determining what content to show users, there are some items that are known from experience and industry standards, including:
- Average time a user spent on content
- The time of the posting
- Was the post or link shared by a friend over messenger?
- The number of replies, comments, and likes a post has
- Has the publisher/brand post been shared by a friend
- The type of post
- How informative the post is
Like other digital tactics, e.g. SEO, the biggest factor influencing your content’s visibility will be the quality of the content.
Content Considerations Moving Forward
If brands and advertisers are looking to maintain their current levels of visibility on Facebook, the focus should be on the type and quality of content they are producing. A few organic reach suggestions & tactics to consider moving forward include:
Live Video has performed incredibly well on the platform. In fact, in Facebook’s corporate announcement of the algorithm change they noted that “live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.” With Live Video, it is important to remember that much of the impact from the post comes in the views that follow the actual live broadcast.
While Facebook refers to it as “engagement-bait,” the hokey practice of encouraging users to make a certain action such as liking or sharing a post will be counted against you as Facebook evaluates your content.
Build Community Using Groups:
Facebook’s announcement of the algorithm change specifically mentioned Groups as a method of reaching people on the platform. Consider creating groups focused on your product or service, build an audience, have a conversation and share content there.
Advertise on Facebook:
Whether you’ve been doing it for years or have been relying on organic reach, the Facebook Advertising platform is still an effective way to reach your audience. Campaigns on Facebook are highly targeted and can be run on any sized budget, ensuring anyone can reach their audience.
Focus on Local Content:
While it will be more difficult for national or international brands, focus on local news, events, etc. can help improve visibility for brands and advertisers. Hosting an event or sharing local stories can help improve reach.
No Changes to Facebook’s Advertising Platform
Neither statement from Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook corporate indicated changes to Facebook’s advertising model. And at BCH, we’ve not observed any changes with our clients’ accounts that would indicate anything different. This will continue to be ran as a bid structure similar to Google’s Ad Words network.
However, while no change to how the ad platform works is expected, it is possible the changes to the News Feed Algorithm will have a trickle-down effect on the ad structure. If more brands and advertisers turn to paid content on Facebook’s platform, this will create more competition for the ad space, thus driving up ad costs on the platform.
Facebook is Still a Valuable Tool
While the News Feed Algorithm update may cause marketers to reevaluate using Facebook as part of their communications strategy, the platform still has many advantages. Facebook continues to be the largest social platform, boasting over 2 billion active users in April 2018.
But just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean your brand necessarily should. When determining what platforms are right for your brand consider where your audience is. While Facebook is the largest social network, it typically is just a piece of the pie. In March 2018 Pew Research Center reported “the typical (median) American reports that they use three of the eight major platforms that the Center measured in this survey.”
Facebook should always be considered as a part of your marketing strategy and the News Feed Algorithm shift should not change that. Instead it presents an opportunity to focus more on understanding what your audience wants and developing relationships. It also reinforces the most important aspect of any digital tactic, developing great content.