Facebook News Feed Changes

Alison Brown | Group Account Director Marketing, Social Media, Technology

The social media marketing world has been abuzz this month with reaction to Facebook’s announcement that it’s making significant changes to its news feed algorithm. The social media giant is prioritising “meaningful” person-to-person interactions among friends and family over posts from Facebook pages. These updates will result in fewer posts from pages in the news feed. 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said this about the planned updates to the news feed:

“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.”

These changes have alarmed many marketers and businesses, especially those who don’t have hefty advertising budgets and rely on the news feed to generate organic traffic.

What prompted these changes to the news feed? Facebook has publicly acknowledged academic research that shows how passively consuming articles or videos that don’t spark engagement or interaction is bad for a person’s mood. These studies compare this passive engagement to watching people you care about in real life. Having real conversations and interacting with them can be beneficial, while simply watching others from the sidelines can make you feel worse.

What do these changes mean for Facebook marketers and businesses?

As these updates are rolled out, page administrators should notice the organic reach (unpaid) of their posts dropping. This is because the end user will see more posts from their friends and family and less content from pages they follow.

Facebook claims that it still values page content but this announcement will see it focusing on content that is shared and talked about by the people you’re connected with.

Interestingly, it’s emerged that the updates will also result in fewer videos in our feeds. In an interview with Wired, Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri states:

“There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem… But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”

This is an interesting about-face from Facebook on video distribution. In the past, Zuckerberg has said that “video brings us closer together.”

It should be noted that the exception will be live video due to its ability to generate conversations and community reaction.

What types of content will be prioritised?

Under the new rules, posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions among people will be prioritised in the news feed. Facebook users should typically see more content from friends and family.

Other content that will rank highly:

  • Content from Groups

Facebook groups tend to inspire a lot of meaningful conversation, and communities on Facebook are becoming “increasingly active and vibrant,” according to Mosseri.

  • Content that generates comments

Comments are more valuable that Likes. Mosseri explains that:

“Content that inspires comments, specifically, long comments which actually take time and thought to type out will be a positive ranking signal for the algorithm which will lead to increased distribution of the content which sparked the lengthy response.”

  • News content that friends Share and talk about

News content that’s shared and talked about among friends will receive some sort of “tailwind” from the changes in the way the news feed prioritises content.

How should businesses and Page owners respond to the News Feed changes?

Change is a constant in social media marketing. Businesses must accept that they are renting space on Facebook and social media platforms can and will change the rules when they want. So, if you want to play in Facebook’s sandpit, you need to play by their rules.

It’s important to remember that producing quality content that is relevant and helpful to your target audience will ALWAYS get interaction on Facebook. If you’re doing that now – keep doing it.

The announcement has sparked a lot of marketing discussion and here’s our take on what you should be considering when publishing content in 2018.

Become a storyteller

Everyone loves a yarn and businesses have so many good stories to tell. Think about how you could tell those stories on Facebook across a series of posts. The popularity of podcasts is proof that people have a thirst for this type of episodic content.

Consider Live Video

Doing a live video once a week or twice a month will help generate the types of conversations that Facebook will reward with news feed visibility.

Invest in advertising

These changes have been dubbed “Facebook Zero” because it’s feared posts will generate zero organic reach for businesses. Businesses MUST allocate a portion of their overall marketing budget to Facebook advertising. What’s unclear is how these changes will impact on the overall costs of Facebook ads. If more businesses are advertising, it’s highly likely the costs will go up.

Use these changes to take stock of what you’re doing now. Do you create content that inspires authentic engagement and conversation? If the answer is yes, the changes probably won’t affect your pages very much. If the answer is no, you will need to take steps to encourage meaningful interactions – or simply pay for the privilege of reaching your desired audience.