Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg lit the social media marketing world on fire this January, announcing that he was “making a major change to how we build Facebook.” The Facebook Apocalypse, as it was called by some in the industry, had arrived.
But the details were not very clear. Fear and trembling took over for many digital marketers, and many saw the end of Facebook marketing. However, a few weeks after the pending changes were announced, Facebook released a good deal of information to journalists about what the changes would entail.
What does that mean for marketers who manage Facebook Pages? Here is an overview of the core of the new Facebook algorithm, according to the official Facebook Newsroom website, and a series of statements from Zuckerberg and Adam Mosseri, Head of the News Feed at Facebook.
Meaningful Interactions between individuals: Facebook has clearly said that content that creates conversation between users (not necessarily businesses) is content that will be prioritized. What does this mean for businesses? If people aren’t talking to each other in your comments section, your content won’t be considered valuable.
Long comments outrank short comments: While a well-chosen GIF can convey a thousand words, getting your users to respond to your content with longer comments will be seen as much more indicative of user value. One-word answers and emojis will take a back seat to a response of a few sentences,
Video is still a priority (kind of): In the wait-and-see category is video. Facebook says that video may get less watch time and seen less often, but then went out of their way to remind people of the value of Live Video, and talk about the future of Facebook Watch, it’s channel for creators of episodic content. The jury is out on what exactly the changes will do to quality video content. The primary school of thought is that long form, original video will continue to thrive (as well as most live video), while promotional video that doesn’t create engagement will suffer.
Engagement bait reach will be throttled: If you’re prone to tactics that ask users to comment, share, or react to your post, you’ll see a continued decline in your organic reach. Also of note is a warning against the popular tactic of using reactions as a poll-type vote.
Referral traffic to your website may decline: Let’s face it. Facebook wants users to stay on Facebook. If your business’ primary referral source is Facebook, that will drop in the new reality. Content that just drives traffic off of their site, without driving conversation on their site, is not what they’re going to prioritize.
I imagine these new changes will create a rush of people using Facebook ads for the first time. As demand goes, so does supply, and then follows cost. So, the cost of advertising on Facebook will most likely increase, and the quality of your ads and your audiences will become very important.
Don’t lose hope, digital marketers. Facebook has always been changing, and will continue to do so. Whatever the changes bring to businesses looking to connect with customers, communications platforms will continue to evolve, and smart marketers will continue to adapt and find innovative ways to connect with their audiences.
Kyle is an experienced marketing and communications strategist; having developed and managed social strategy at an Atlanta-area hospital, a state university, and several churches and ministry organizations. He is the senior integrated digital marketing strategist at LifeWay.