Here we go again, content kings and queens. A couple weeks ago, Facebook released some updates to its News Feed algorithm. Since the meltdown last year concerning the decline in the reach of brands' organic content, content marketers have learned to put the tissues away, grow a pair, and roll with the punches.
Since the Post Modern Marketing office grew said pair, we’re less surprised when there are algorithm aftershocks, i.e. never ending changes to the inner workings of Facebook’s News Feed. Part of this business, and dare I say part of the fun of it, is figuring out how to navigate these challenges and keep your brand as visible as possible given the circumstances. Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, however, can still be a frustrating beast to deal with, especially when it consistently makes your brand’s page less visible. That’s why marketers have been referring to the recent developments as “Facebookgeddon.”
The latest update to Facebook’s News Feed means something different for everyone. Individuals, as per usual, will probably enjoy the changes, as Facebook is most concerned with their experience. In the meantime, brands will suffer even less discovery, and publishers – who have enjoyed a high rate of referral traffic over the last year and a half – will experience a decrease in post priority.
As Facebook has reminded us in its recent Newsfeed FYI, “the goal of News Feed is to show you the content that matters to you.” Ahead, we’ve listed the new renovations to the News Feed structure that aim to support that stance, followed by a breakdown of what it means for your page and marketing efforts.
Previously, Facebook limited the number of posts you see from the same source. For people with a small group of friends and liked pages, or who just prefer to keep their communities on the small side, this rule made for a bland experience, as the content would dry out quickly. Now, lone wolves can see multiple updates about their aunt’s quilt knitting project. (“Now it’s time to add the fringe! – feeling pumped”).
This is good news for brands who publish often, which is one of Facebook’s best practices for Driving Referral Traffic. Now your third post of the day, which Facebook may have buried before, may just get seen.
Now, a little something for the social butterflies with a gillion friends. When you have that much content to sift through, Facebook figures the birth of your cousin’s baby just might take precedence over a new artisanal donut being offered at your favorite pastry shop or the latest BuzzFeed article. At least, we hope that much is true. Facebook is now prioritizing that high quality friends-and-family content over content from publishers and company pages, although they reassure the users that they’ll still see content from news sources and Facebook pages they enjoy (i.e. interact with).
Note the caveat: users will still see content from pages with which they engage. Not to underscore yet another tired best practice from Facebook, but creating content that’s strong, share-worthy, and what your fans want to see still seems to be the best possible way to thwart algorithmic adjustments. In other words, your loyal followers will likely still be by your side, but winning new followers organically will be even more difficult. Time to come to terms with the obvious: Facebook should be treated as what it has become — an advertising platform.
Now, a little minutia. You know those updates you see about your friends liking this and commenting on that? Facebook is giving that information way less weight, because apparently people don’t enjoy seeing the countless little actions their friends make throughout the day. Those will be replaced by friends and pages you follow directly.
Okay, so you know how I referred to this change as “minutia”? For users, it is. But for brands, it’s a potentially momentous downfall. I say potentially because Facebook is careful to temper your devastation with the consolation that “the impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.” All those secondhand visits and traffic your page may have received from someone thinking “Hm, Catherine likes that page? I like that brand, too. LIKE!” will be diminished.
Your business’s posts will no longer benefit from content discovery methods (not as much, anyway). Additionally, your post reach and referral traffic will probably see a decline. However, there have been plenty of scares of “-geddon” proportions before, like last year’s effort to reduce click bait articles that ultimately did not crush the web publishing industry as we know it, so it remains to be seen whether these recent user-based developments will truly shatter the Facebook arm of your business. Don’t despair, but do stock up on canned goods and blankets, i.e. be prepared to pay for your customers’ attention and loyalty through advertising.