While most people this past New Year's made resolutions to eat better, lose 10lbs, or start a consistent meditation routine, Mark Zuckerberg had a bit of a different idea. As announced last week (January 11th), Mark's New Year's Resolution is to change the Facebook algorithm to make Facebook about personal, human connections again.
So, while I'm stressed about sticking to my new gym schedule, Mark and the Facebook team are setting out to change the fundamental landscape of Facebook and social media for the better of humanity. Thanks, Mark.
The recent Facebook algorithm changes will have its biggest impact on public companies: but which companies exactly will "suffer" the most? It actually depends on your content.
We brought in Dennis Yu and Logan Young from BlitzMetrics (Facebook marketing geniuses) to our weekly sales training Lunch & Learn to talk about what these changes will mean for agencies, media companies, and other public brands.
Table of Contents
What changes are coming to the Facebook News Feed?
In 2018, Facebook will be rolling out changes to their algorithm to connect people to meaningful content from their friends and family in their News Feed. What does that mean exactly?
The algorithm will start giving more priority to content that's posted and shared within your "inner circle," and will emphasize the reach of content that sparks meaningful conversations and interactions. Posts from friends and family will be prioritized over public content from brands, publishers, and other company pages.
Facebook armageddon" isn't true. Facebook is trying to create a community. Mark Zuckerberg and I have had heated arguments about what the algorithm should do. What the algorithm is trying to do now is create a better experience for everybody.
[clickToTweet tweet="'Facebook armageddon' isn't true. Facebook is trying to create a community. #Facebooknews @DennisYu" quote="'Facebook armageddon' isn't true. Facebook is trying to create a community. #Facebooknews @DennisYu"]
Why is the Facebook News Feed algorithm changing?
The biggest factor leading to these fundamental algorithm changes is the amount of content (and bad content at that) that is being produced and pushed online.
Publishers were gaming the system with the engagement-weighted algorithm by fishing for views, clicks, likes, and shares with click-bait headlines.
The reason why we're getting less reach is because there is now more competition in the newsfeed.
There are now so many people producing so much content, there's more competition for this and thus they have to create a stronger filter power in the algorithms.
[clickToTweet tweet="Why the algorithm change? Major publishers were gaming #Facebook for engagement. No more #fakenews!" quote="Why the algorithm change? Major publishers were gaming #Facebook for engagement. No more #fakenews!"]
So how should we respond? How do we fix this? The answer is not new gimmicks or algorithm-tricking tactics. Tricking the system is what prompted these changes in the first place.
More businesses are realizing the effectiveness of having an active Facebook profile and providing their audience with regular content, but many companies are taking advantage of it. Engagement-bait content is making an appearance to trick consumers into engaging with content that is not engagement-worthy.
Businesses that do everything on a sales approach that doesn't start with creating a story or building a relationship are going to get hammered. Tricks like "See-first" isn't going to work, posting more often and going live all the time isn't going to work. If the e-brake is on, you don't floor the gas, you fix the e-brake.
A lot of people resort to gimmicks to get people's attention. But the gimmicks are not going to work. You'll hear all these people talk about gimmicks--see first, use chatbots, try to go live all the time. That's bandaid short-cut ways of thinking.
What does this mean for publisher and company pages?
The emphasis on public content like videos and other content from publishers and businesses will be decreased. Pages may now see their reach, video time, traffic, and other metrics decrease depending on its performance.
The biggest factor that will determine the gravity of these changes on your post performance will depend on how engaged your audience is with your content. Pages that post content that spark engagements like reactions, comments, and shares will not see a negative impact on their content reach.
Some people are worried at seeing that Facebook live video doesn't seem to be as effective at getting reach and engagement lately. This is not strictly to do with the algorithm changes, but more so about how Facebook is no longer giving higher content priority to this new feature they built.
They recently introduced Facebook live video. They're really pushing it. So when people do Facebook live, it gets a little boost and works. But now they're just going to treat it as just another piece of content, and won't get a special boost just because it's Facebook live video. If it gets good engagement and avoid negative feedback, then they'll still give it reach and it will do well. If it does not get you engagement, it will not save you and get a ton of reach. You'll get 0 reach as everyone else.
Despite what many industry blogs are touting, and many publishers are losing sleep over, the end of Facebook for brands is not nigh.
The reach, to begin with, is only about 2% of your following. For people that are putting up bad content, their reach will be the same. Maybe 1%.
I posted something on my page last night that got 10% reach within just a few hours. You just have to make sure you're focusing on engagement-worthy content, and not clickbait or engagement-bait.
What public companies should do about Facebook algorithm changes
If you want to keep your reach and engagement high, then create engaging content that’s relevant to your target audience. It really is as simple as that.
Gimmicky tactics that trick your audience into engaging and clicking on your content won't work anymore. It's time to roll up your sleeves and focus on creating real relationships with your audience and provide engagement-worthy content over engagement-bait content.
Moving forward, people are going to see more content from their inner circle. That doesn't mean that publishers and pages aren't part of your inner circle. As a Page, that means you don't just want to sell, don't abandon your Page, but have more TOFU content to build rapport, trust with your user base. You'll still show up in their inner circle. Start with why and how, and after those you can sell your what to your custom audiences.
1. Build engagement-worthy content that nurtures real relationships
Take a content strategy that tells stories and builds brand trust and relationships first, with sales tactics playing second fiddle. Focus your content more on telling stories, being human, and creating conversation.
- Be unique
Drop regurgitating the same content and news over and over just for the sake of traffic and clicks. Don't create a piece of content about AI just because everyone else is creating content about AI if you don't have anything new to add to the conversation. Provide your own insights and data, and not just something a reader could get from a simple Google search.
Focus on your strengths and areas of expertise and you'll find ways to remain relevant and build trust and thought-leadership in the industry. Consider the questions your audience is asking and build content around informing and educating them!
- Be honest
Drop the "hooks" and "clickbait" titles. In today’s world of #fake news, it's important to be honest and drop the trickery. Answer questions in a genuine manner and don't use titles to scare people into clicking. People respect transparency!
- Be gracious
Don't be silent on social. Engage with your audience by asking questions, and thanking them for being involved with your community and business. Share content of other people in the industry who are also providing value, and be an active member of the community!
Don't live and die by the metrics. Not every piece of content will see an immediate return, but it all goes towards building that relationship and trust with your users.
Online sources like the Vendasta blog, Social Media Examiner, and more has many tips and articles on what you can do with your content to produce real engagement.
2. Adopt the 3 x 3 video grid strategy to build brand trust
Dennis and Logan specifically suggest that local businesses, publishers, and public figures use their 3 x 3 Facebook video strategy to build a trustworthy and successful brand. Make short, one-minute videos that tell the "who" and the "what" before following-up with the "why.
If you don't have any in-house videography talent, you can rely on online sources like Videobolt, BetterVideo Montage or Fiverr to source videos, and free tools like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Money should not be a barrier to building your video strategy.
Read more about the strategy here: Dennis Yu’s 3×3 Video Grid Strategy For Local Businesses
3. Have public faces of your company build Public Figure pages
Do your C-Suite executives and sales leadership have Public Figure pages on Facebook? Dennis and Logan suggest it as a great new tactic to try to both get familiar with Facebook's engagement-based algorithm and to build trust with your clients.
Anyone who's a figurehead for the business—anyone who can see what you're doing, where you're dealing with customers and that has content and expertise to be shared—should create a public figure page on Facebook. Follow what George Leith is doing. If you want to drive more sales, build more reach and create engagement with customers, create a public figure page and create a 1-minute video around who you are. Saying something about you as a person, not selling.
Tell the story. 1 minute, it's not that hard to do. One 1 minute video about who you are. One 1-minute video about what you do and why, about Vendasta or your company. One 1 minute video about the expertise that you have, on how you do something or something that people would find interesting. Three 1-minute videos. Start with why, then how, then what.
If you want to succeed, do this with your public figure page. Then, if you like each others pages and create engagement and give feedback on creating better videos, you can demonstrate to clients how to do this. That's how you'll get reach and build better relationships
4. Hone in on your paid Facebook advertising strategy
The new algorithm changes will only affect organic posts and content, and your paid Facebook advertisements will remain largely unaffected.
When Brendan King, Vendasta CEO, asked about the effect to a typical advertiser spending $1000 a month on Facebook, Logan indicated that the effect would be very small to none. The biggest effect will be on organic content.
Dennis and Logan suggest trying their $1 a day boosting strategy.
If your company is not publishing clickbait or fake news content the new algorithm change will have very little effect on you. But, if you are using these types of engagement strategies, then indeed this is a bombshell. If your business relies on getting tons of impressions and conversions from this method, it’s time to call in the experts like Dennis Yu and Logan Young to revamp your Facebook marketing strategy.
Check out our white-label guide to Mastering Google and Facebook Advertising for Local Businesses to lock down your client's paid strategy.
In conclusion, the only real companies that should be worried about this big Facebook algorithm change are the ones who are using disingenuous, engagement-bait methods on their Facebook page.
Additionally, companies that do not make engaging with their audience a focus of their social strategy, and rather have a "post and ghost" type of content strategy, will experience a very small reach with their organic content.
To address this issue and keep your engagement and reach high, make sure you adopt a social content strategy that focuses on building brand trust and relationships with your consumers. You want to become part of your audience's "inner circle," and you do so by sparking real conversations and human interactions on the Facebook platform. Plus, hone in on your paid advertising strategy to fill in any reach gaps you may have and hit your perfect target audience.
See you on the News Feed!