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New Facebook News Feed Algorithms - What's Changed and How You Should Respond

Facebook marketers everywhere are up in arms about the new Facebook News Feed algorithm changes. What’s actually changing? What am I supposed to do differently? We wanted to address the key issues so our own customers and Facebook marketers far and wide have a plan in place to respond.

We’ll look at:

  1. What are the changes?
  2. How will the changes affect what I do on Facebook?
  3. What should I do in response to the changes?

Jon Loomer published a series of blog posts tackling this issue which are very informative. Read Loomer’s coverage of the Facebook changes for marketers here, here and here. Alternatively, read on for a breakdown of the issue.

What are the changes?

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, posted about the issue in early January. His post is long and doesn’t give away too many details. Here are the important takeaways:

  • “I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
  • “The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”
  • “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.”

Meaningful social interactions is the key phrase here. It sounds like Facebook is going back to its roots of being a purely social channel and changing the algorithm so person-to-person interaction is prioritised for a better user experience.

Another key thing to note from Zuckerberg’s post is this:

“We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.”

Facebook seems very keen to get rid of this “passive experience” from their site and that includes punishing content forms that don’t encourage real engagement (videos). So what does all of this actually mean for you?

facebook changes

How will the changes affect what I do on Facebook?

First of all, don’t freak out. Facebook advertising won’t be affected yet as far as we know. There was no mention of ads in Zuckerberg’s post and no notifications of changes to how Facebook Ads Manager works or how Facebook ads are seen by Facebook users. What is likely to be affected is how your brand or product pages appear - or don’t appear - in the News Feed.

We can gather two things from Zuckerberg’s post:

  • Facebook users will see more from friends and groups on their News Feed.
  • Posts from businesses and brand pages will be less visible on the News Feed.

We can’t do anything about the first point, so it’s best to accept that now.

For the second point, keep in mind Zuckerberg stated that “the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

So public content isn’t disappearing completely. The strategy here is to change the way your business or brand operates on Facebook, which we’ll get to in the next section.

If your page currently posts links to your site or posts unengaging video content, just assume that you’ll be seen less by the people who ‘like’ and follow you. This isn’t engaging content. Engaging content should start conversations between followers. We suggest you adopt a strategy that features this as the key driver.

What should I do in response to the changes?

We recommend listening to the Social Media Examiner podcast on this issue. Michael Stelzner provides his own analysis of the changes and what businesses can do so they don’t get left behind by Facebook.

Here are two responses you should adopt for your Facebook page going forward:

Encourage meaningful interactions on your page every single time you post

Zuckerberg says “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.

If people are going to be spending less time on Facebook, you want everything they see on the News Feed to be worth their time. That’s why your business or brand needs to change its strategy and ensure visibility.

What this might look like on your Facebook page:

  • Stop posting links to your shop or site.
  • Scale back the frequency of your posts - less is more.
  • Remember that your followers are people and appeal to them.
  • When you do post, make sure it’s quality content that will encourage long-comment discussion and interaction.
  • Get people talking with each other - not just with you and your page.
  • Absolutely avoid engagement-baiting unless you’re doing a live video. E.g. don’t specifically ask for people to comment on a post, don’t force followers to comment to win something.
  • Consider live videos as a strategy to get users to engage with each other.
  • Develop this strategy to encourage engaged followers to “see first” your page’s content.

If you weren’t aware, Facebook users have the option to see your content first in their News Feed. They might choose to do this because they love reading your content, or they like what your company does. This could be a great way to get around the News Feed changes.

So, a great goal to have in your strategy is to encourage more people to want see your content first. You can only achieve this by posting great quality content in the first place - perhaps engaging live videos that your followers care about and don’t want to miss out on.

You can find the “see first” option by going to a particular Facebook page, clicking the “following” drop down menu and selecting “see first”.

facebook see first

Create a group and consistently engage with users there

Zuckerberg mentioned that Facebook users will not only see more from their friends and families, but also groups. If your business doesn’t already have a Facebook group, consider forming one.

Groups are an excellent platform to facilitate discussion about a particular topic or issue related to your business. This is something that would be considered a valuable interaction on the new Facebook.

For example, a marketing agency could create a group on Facebook to promote discussion about emerging marketing tools. The group should be 90% users talking to other users and 10% could be your own input engaging with the group members.

Katherine Chalhoub from Web Profits also presented some possible tactics you might want to try on for size.

Unfortunately there’s a lot of room for error here. We don’t know exactly what the News Feed changes entail and so it will be important to trial and test what works for you.

The best thing you can do for your business or brand on Facebook is conform to a new strategy that favours true engagement. You will need to be creative and try a few different types of post to see what works best for your community.  Use your Facebook page as a tool to encourage real conversations between followers rather than a tool to sell your products or services. Leave that to Facebook advertising.

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