Facebook’s algorithms are changing – is your business ready?
This post is a part of our PESO model blog series – a guide to the basics of paid, earned, social and owned content.
In its crusade to “bring people closer together and build relationships”, Facebook is changing its News Feed algorithms. While the jury’s still out on whether these changes will bring you closer to your mom and her minion memes, it’s clear that the effect on businesses will be less than ideal.
The truth is we just don’t know how these changes are going to fully impact business Pages. What we do know is that organic reach is already on the decline and these changes will make it even harder for organizations to reach their target audiences. Those who depend on platforms like Facebook to get their products, services or messages out will have to change up their game plan – and put more money into the Facebook machine.
Below, we’ll explore how to update your social media strategy in preparation for these changes.
7 ways to prepare for Facebook’s new algorithms:
- Make the investment. Now’s the time to put money behind your Facebook strategy. Though Facebook aims to bring users together through these algorithm changes, they’re also forcing businesses to spend more on promoted posts and ads in order to connect with those users. Luckily, Facebook’s ads are customizable and there are options for every budget.
- Double-down on your owned properties. You can’t control what you don’t own. If your digital strategy has largely been focused on building your social media audience, it’s time to shift your focus and reinvest in your own properties – think websites, blogs and newsletters. These long-term assets won’t just disappear when platforms shut down; they provide your content marketing strategy with independence.
- Go for quality, not quantity. Now that Facebook is focusing on “meaningful conversation”, it’s time to reevaluate if your content is honestly creating that kind of engagement. If not, it’s time to reinvigorate your strategy. What is your audience really interested in? This may require you to invest in research, audience profiling and a new multimedia strategy. Also remember that conversation does not equal clickbait – unless you want to annoy your audience, that is.
- Think twice about external links. “Facebook generally tends to frown upon and lower the average visibility and ability of content to reach its audience on Facebook if it includes an external link,” says Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz. This is only going to grow into a bigger problem for marketers as Facebook rolls out their News Feed changes. Our recommendation? Stick to a 2:1 external link ratio on your posts. That way, you can balance the need to play by Facebook’s rules with your own need to acquire website traffic.
- Focus on video. Video content is still going strong; Animoto reports that “video continues to get further reach and engagement than other types of content”. Considering that Facebook’s new algorithm will prioritize posts with high numbers of shares, reactions and “meaningful interactions”, it makes sense to focus on video over all other forms of content. Part of Facebook’s strategy is to keep people on the platform longer. Consider incorporating Facebook’s on-platform video capabilities, like Facebook Live, into your strategy – Jeff Bullas reports that Facebook users spend “3x more time watching live videos compared to traditional videos.”
- Keep your audience informed. Your loyal followers chose to follow you for a reason: they want to see your content. Luckily, according to Facebook’s newsroom, “People who want to see more posts from Pages they follow can choose See First in News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages”. If you feel comfortable doing so, use your blog or social media channels to let your followers know they can continue seeing your Facebook posts once they update their News Feed settings.
- Branch out to other platforms. It’s still unclear which platforms, if any, will benefit from these Facebook changes. However, it makes sense for your business to determine which social platforms your audience members use outside of Facebook and put extra focus there. Even Mark Zuckerberg himself predicts Facebook use will decline. “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” he said in a recent statement. People will have to search elsewhere for their daily dose of viral content; make sure you have a presence on those platforms when they do.
Change is scary; developing the right strategy will help to ease those fears. By taking these tips into consideration, you’ll empower your business to continue succeeding with or without Facebook. While there are a lot of unknowns at play with these new algorithms, there are also opportunities for your social strategy to expand and evolve.