The apocalypse, the end is nigh, Facebook Zero… If you work in digital marketing or use social media to promote your business, these are phrases you’ve probably heard in the past few days.
Why? Facebook’s done it again. More changes to its infamous algorithm. Or, in other words, ‘further restrictions on how we show content from business pages to their followers’.
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”
But despite the dramatic language, let’s try not to panic. After all, Facebook has been slowly moving towards this for some time. We already know it favours posts with more interactions, no external links and those that don’t include ‘engagement bait’. And, most digital marketers will be applying those rules to their Facebook strategy already.
So, what does this mean to those with business pages? Well, the changes aren’t likely to be rolled out for a few weeks, so you have some time to digest before you react.
It’s likely that you’ll see a drop in reach, video watch time and referral traffic – at least in the short term while you adjust to the changes. But it’s worth taking time to see how your content performs, too – monitor it for a while and make the changes based on what is performing well and what isn’t.
In the meantime, here are a few predictions that might be worth considering.
Pay (even) more to be seen…
The cynics among us believe this is just another way of monetising Facebook. Organic reach dropping? Pay to get your content seen. It’s nothing new of course, but now it’s going to push even more content into the ‘needs to be boosted to be seen’ category.
Facebook says it will be prioritising posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. “These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”
Clearly, conversation is key, so we need to be coming up with content that sparks discussion and interaction. Video often ticks this box on Facebook, but trialling live video and live chats could elevate your posts even more as you encourage people to join in during a shorter time period, indicating to the algorithm that this is a popular post.
If you’re the type that needs stats to be convinced, consider that in January 2016, just 11% of Facebook pages for media companies utilised Facebook Live videos. By May 2016, that had grown to 44% – a 300% increase over the space of four months. And, Facebook says people watch Facebook Live videos three times longer than videos that aren’t live.
Overall, keep in mind that Facebook is no longer a place to promote the content you are publishing elsewhere. Limit how much you link to your blog posts and product pages and think about how you can engage your followers within the Facebook platform. Again, nothing new, but now more important than ever.
Interact with your followers
Had three comments on your latest post? Respond to them! The key words in that quote from Facebook are “back-and-forth discussion”. You can help to turn a comment into a conversation by responding with open-ended questions to encourage people to keep posting. It’s a time-consuming strategy, but one that should pay off.
Encourage followers to click ‘see first’
This is tricky, but well worth it if you can make it work. Your followers can select ‘see first’ on the ‘Following’ dropdown on your company Page and Facebook will make sure your content is placed at the top of their newsfeed. Cue some creative ideas to encourage your followers to take this simple action…
Never a dull day at Facebook. We’ll keep you posted …