On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement that Facebook will be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize posts from friends and family over public content. If you’re still not sure about what that means for your brand, don’t worry! We will walk you through everything you need to know.
“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote, “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.”
As the changes come to life in the next few months, businesses will most likely see a significant decrease in organic reach. Users might also spend less time on Facebook, but Zuckerberg hopes the time they do spend on the platform will be “time well spent”.
This means News Feed will likely start to show more pictures of your friends’ weekend city escape, and fewer BuzzFeed quizzes.
So, what should you do to “beat” the new Facebook algorithm?
In order to fully understand the Facebook algorithm, you must understand the core values that Facebook uses to guide their thinking and work. These values can give you insights about what content will do well or not so well on Facebook.
Facebook states that the goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. As there’s more information on the News Feed than a person is capable of consuming, Facebook stories in the News Feed are ranked. These are the values that are considered when ranking the stories:
• Friends and Family – The top priority of News Feed is keeping people connected with their family and friends and places and things they want to be connected to. Facebook algorithm is also pretty smart and it will learn about your preferences over the time. For example, if you tend to like photos from your sister, they will start putting her posts closer to the top of your feed. After friends and family, people have two other strong expectations from News Feed:
-Your feed should inform – People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them. Facebook algorithm can figure out whether you prefer to see some local news, stories about your favorite celebrities, recipes or some type of events.
-Your feed should entertain – People enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following Buzzfeed news, for others it’s watching videos on LADBible or sharing funny photos with their friends.
• A platform for all ideas – Facebook welcomes all ideas, but their top priority is that everyone feels safe. They tend to deliver stories that are relevant to each individual, to be inclusive of all perspectives and points of view (of course, as long as it not any type of harmful behaviour).
• Authentic communications – Facebook prioritizes genuine stories over misleading and spammy ones.
• You control your experience – Individuals know what is most meaningful to them, so Facebook allows everyone to customize what they see. Features such as unfollow, hide and see first can create a unique experience for each user. For example, if you hide a story from someone, it signalizes that you’re not interested in hearing from that person in the future (but cannot remove him/her from friends because you work together and that would be awkward, we’ve all been there).
• Constant iteration – Facebook strives to constantly collect feedback and improve the platform.
Therefore, watch out for:
Clickbait posts are posts whose main goal is attracting people to click on a link to a certain website or video. Clickbait headlines aim to exploit the curiosity gap, providing enough information to make readers curios, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking on the link. If you scroll through your News Feed right now, we bet that you’ll see some of the headlines such as:
• This guy went to hug an elephant. What happens next will blow your mind.
• This celebrity died tragically today! The facts about her death will shock you!
• What this little kid can do with a bongo drum will make you sob uncontrollably until you burst.
• She gave birth to twins, and what happened four years afterwards shocked everybody!
Once you click, you realise that elephant didn’t do anything at all, a celebrity died 20 years ago on that day, a kid is not that funny and twins are starting preschool. Feeling a bit disappointed?
If your posts sound a bit like these, stop what you’re doing, because clickbaits won’t do you any good with the new Facebook algorithm.
Like-baiting posts are similar to clickbait posts, only instead of clicking on the link, you are being invited to like a post, share it or comment it. It’s easy to spot those posts, as the copy is usually “Like this posts if you like dogs!” or “Like if you agree!”. But have you ever seen something like this?
As a page fan, you probably have an opinion whether you like the orange or the green hand cream more, right?
But what you’re actually doing is raising an engagement for that post unconsciously. A really good trick, but it won’t work in 2018.
Let’s say that you’re promoting seasonal sales on your Facebook page. The sale starts in December, so you create an informative post about that. A week later, the same sale is still going on, so you share the same post again. In mid-January, your sale is still active, so you share that same post once more.
That was a reasonable idea until now, but with the new Facebook algorithm you will have to create three different posts, no matter that the purpose is the same.
Promotional posts are a necessity when you’re running a business page, but overly promotional Facebook posts will only reject your fans. Sure, your goal is to sell your products/services, but pushing people to buy something, to enter a contest or to download something will do you no good.
Now that you’re familiar with some ground News Feed Values and types of posts that are directly confronting those, it’s time to talk about what changes should we expect from Facebook in 2018 and how to be ready for them!
Facebook’s algorithm can be broken down into four simple components:
• Inventory (content available)
• Signals (considerations about content)
• Predictions (considerations about person)
• Overall Score
Signals are what brands and marketers can focus on in order to have their content seen by more users on the News Feed.
Until now, Facebook used these signals to determine which posts would be shown to users:
In 2018, the algorithm will use signals of active interactions:
When considering what content will be on the top of your News Feed, Facebook will make a distinction between active and passive interactions. Active interactions are commenting, sharing and reacting, while passive are clicking, watching and viewing.
Those active interactions will be extremely important for your brand, so let’s see what you can to to continue reaching people on Facebook.
According to Zuckerberg, meaningful interaction means as many comments as possible. At the moment, you are probably creating content for your brand, and people interact with it. From now on, your content should be for the people, meaning that your content should be so relevant to your fans that they are ready to generate a comment or to share your post.
To do that properly, you must fully understand your audience, such as:
• What motivates them in life?
• What types of posts do they interact with?
• What do they care about?
For example, Bleacher Report’s fans are passionate and knowledgeable about sports, and they use that fact to create engaging posts, such as:
Follow their example and create meaningful content that will sparkle a conversation between users. Include questions in your posts and write about relevant topics that your users are opinionated about
But be careful – as we mentioned before, engagement-baits will not do you any good. Creating posts such as “Comment if you like dogs!” is not considered a meaningful interaction, and Facebook will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.
If you want to build an active and engaged community around your brand, you should create a Facebook group for your niche. As engagement is the key for beating the new Facebook algorithm, you should think about the new ways to engage customers with Groups.
To create a Facebook Group, simply go to your page and select “Group” in the sidebar and click “Create Group”:
You will be asked then to name a group and to add some people – and that’s it, you’re ready!
One good thing for brands is that Facebook did not change the ability for users to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages by choosing “See First” in their news feed preferences.
Your customers might not be aware that this option even exists, so create a few interesting posts and remind them to follow your page!
Videos are still important for the algorithm, but live videos will be even more important. As Zuckerberg wrote in his report: “Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
If you still haven’t invested time and energy into generating some ideas for Facebook live videos, it’s a time you finally do that. Hire relevant influencers for your niche, organize a special product launching/review, organize a Q&A or employees takeovers – options are endless!
With the new Facebook algorithm, it’s time to level up your Facebook strategy and create meaningful content that will engage your community. We believe that our suggestions would help you achieve that!