Three things to consider in the wake of Facebook’s news feed change

Facebook’s recent news feed change has sent a chill down the spine of publishers, brands and businesses that have made social media platforms a big part of their marketing strategy. The changes, which were announced by Mark Zuckerberg last week, could make it harder for people to see your business page content in their news feed.

The main thrust of the changes is to prioritise posts from family and friends over public posts from businesses and other organisations. That could spell disaster for any business that has come to rely on Facebook as its main channel for organic marketing.

“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,” Zuckerberg said in his announcement.

However, there are compelling reasons to continue having a presence on Facebook, even though you are going to have to be smarter about your content, and will possibly have to invest more in paid posts.

Facebook is still the biggest social media platform around, with close to 2 billion regular and active users globally. It is the number one social media platform in the world and thousands of small businesses have used it to expand their marketing reach and grow sales. It would be counterproductive to throw away the gains you have made on Facebook because of this latest round of changes.

And despite appearances to the contrary, Facebook is not interested in driving brands and businesses away from the platform. It is looking after its most valuable asset — individual users. Without engaged individual users on the platform there would be no reason for businesses to be there.

The trick with running any social media business is to get the balance right in the ecosystem between all the parties who use the platform. Facebook has identified a trend among its individual users towards passive rather than active engagement on the site. This means people are scrolling through the news feed, watching videos and reading articles rather than actually interacting with others. That was never what made Facebook compelling or unique in the first place. Facebook was built for connection and interaction.

The hard call social media platforms like Facebook have to make on an ongoing basis is how they balance their ecosystem through things like news feed algorithms: skew the algorithm too far towards businesses and you end up losing individual users; skew it too far towards individual users and businesses give up and go elsewhere. Facebook needs both sides of the equation to be successful.

Which is why Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, has been reassuring brands and businesses that pages will still have a place in the news feed, but they might have to work a bit harder to earn their keep. The key being to “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people”.

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect,” Mosseri said in his statement.

Facebook has upped the ante for businesses and brands to make their content more meaningful, engaging and interactive. That’s not always easy, but if you value your Facebook page as a marketing tool, it’s something you have to deal with. These are three things you have to consider in the wake of these latest changes.

Make it meaningful

“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,” Zuckerberg said in his statement.

For your business page, this comes back to understanding why people want to connect with you. What is it they are after when they engage with your business? What is your compelling point of interest for them?

Sharpen your focus and really try to dig deep into the conversations you have with your customers. Think less about using Facebook for mass marketing customer acquisition and more about retention and relationship building. Focus on your core and build out. Make your content meaningful, useful and engaging for the people who are really interested in it. Turn fans into advocates.

Pay for posts  

The writing has been on the wall for a while as organic post reach has continued to decline on Facebook now for a couple of years. There’s no more free lunch on Facebook for business pages. If you want to really get your message out beyond your hardcore fans (and in some cases, even just get your message to them) you have to start investing a little more than spare change into your Facebook ads and boosted posts. Think carefully about your aims and who you want to reach. Find out more about the options available through Facebook on channels like Instagram and Messenger as well.

Facebook is not your only option…

Some businesses really don’t need to be on Facebook. Some businesses need to be on more than just Facebook. And some others need to focus solely on Facebook. You need to always be assessing where you should be in terms of social media channels by looking at where your customers are spending their time.

For business-to-business brands, Facebook often has limited appeal, whereas LinkedIn and Twitter could provide far more bang for your buck. Whether it is Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest or any other platform, you should be measuring its effectiveness against the resources you put in and the results you get in terms of brand profile, customer acquisition and retention, and of course, sales.

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