Last week, Facebook’s Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook:
The company elaborated in a long blog post. Here are some important excerpts:
With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. 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.
We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. 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.
Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, 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. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.
Using “engagement-bait” to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.
This is a major shift in Facebook’s content presentation. I hesitate to use the word “seismic,” because that word would suggest Facebook is killing pages entirely or something to that effect. This is not a life-changing update to Facebook, but it is a pretty important one.
Here are five basic ways I think the incoming Facebook change affects those of us who have public “pages” for content:
1. Paying for Facebook ads/boosts will be as important as ever.
The gist of the Facebook update is this: people’s news feeds are going to be filled more with content from their family and friends (profiles) than brands, media outlets, or other entities they follow (pages).
Page reach has already been minuscule, but this update seems to suggest it will decrease even more (if that’s possible).
As a result, the best way for your page’s content to appear in someone’s news feed is probably going to be for you to occasionally boost good content to relevant audiences.
2. Comments are becoming more important.
In both Zuckerberg’s statement and the Facebook blog post, notice the emphasis on discussion.
Facebook seems to think that its users have more positive experiences when they are interacting in comment sections with their friends and family than they are when they’re reading content from their favorite news outlets or celebrities.
I don’t know what makes Facebook think this, but they do. So, because of this, they appear to be putting more of an emphasis on comments and discussion than anything else.
3. Content continues to reign as king.
Page likes have been sort of useless for a while. Because organic reach is so bad, the number of likes you have on your Facebook page don’t really matter a whole lot.
I know too many people who have bought tens or hundreds of thousands of likes for their Facebook pages to try to look important. That’s not cool, and it’s also bad practice.
In this new, future version of Facebook content is going to continue to reign as king. You are not going to be able to game the system to magically generate more reach than everyone else.
The best way to do Facebook is to create good content that people enjoy and like engaging with on a regular basis.
That is going to continue to be true.
If you aren’t sure about how to adapt. That’s why LifeWay Social exists. We want to help you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.