Will Changes to Facebook’s News Feed be Bad News for Brands?
Recently Facebook announced plans to change its news feed algorithm, meaning posts from friends and family will feature higher than advertising by brands, businesses and the media.
Chief Executive and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg explained that this was due to feedback from the Facebook community, that public content has been crowding out the personal moments that lead users to connect with each other through the platform. Zuckerberg hopes the changes will foster ‘meaningful interactions’ between users and lessen advertising traffic which has become white noise. Posts will no longer be pushed up based on comments and shares, but on content that algorithms predict will promote meaningful back and forth conversation.
Although this may well reduce the time users spend on Facebook in the short term, as there will be less opportunities for engagement with brands on news feeds, the move is predicted to benefit the network in the long term. This is because people will be more likely to use Facebook knowing that their news feed content is specific to them, and not over-run with ads. The platform aims to rebuild its reputation by moving towards becoming a more credible space for consumers.
For businesses, this means when putting money into advertising through Facebook you could get considerably less return from the investment. Though this seems like bad news, the new algorithm will encourage genuine engagement with consumers, and brands who have a strong relationship with their audience and post relevant content may benefit from the changes. To prosper in the new environment, companies should focus on producing richer content that users can interact with. Conversation, conversation, conversation!
Conversation can be prompted by including questions, encouraging debates and discussing relevant topics within posts. Encouraging viewers to follow your page is more important than ever, as users have the option to change preferences and see content from preferred brands first. Videos and live videos will be favoured as they spark discussion, which is clearly the underlying motive for the changes. Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, recently said that Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships, so aim to achieve this when creating posts.
Instagram is also becoming increasingly popular, and this move improves its appeal to brands, as organic posts already gain higher engagement rates in comparison to Facebook. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to jump on the Instagram bandwagon!
In the meantime, the most important message regarding Facebook is not to ignore the changes, but to embrace them as a positive way of cultivating genuine interest and engagement and setting your brand aside from advertising traffic.