On June 29, Facebook announced it will update its algorithm to prioritise content from friends and family, and less from publishers and brands.
Whether you’re a business, charity or traditional publisher, it’s too early to tell how much of an impact the changes to Facebook’s algorithm will have. But I can already see differences in my own feed. News and brand posts are appearing further down the page and in clumps. As promised by Facebook, shared political memes, beach pictures, coffee complaints and cat videos are now the priority for me.
The New York Times correctly reported that the expected side effects of the changes will be that publishers’ content will show up less prominently in news feeds. All content will be impacted, including: links, videos, live videos and photos. Resulting in significantly less traffic to the hundreds of news media and brand sites that have come to rely on Facebook.
Forbes describes the potential impact succinctly: "So what does this mean? Essentially, Facebook has decided it is more interested in showing users photos and updates from their Facebook friends than posts from other pages, and as a result, the reach and referral traffic of posts from the Facebook pages of businesses and media companies will decline."
What options do your have for your page?
I don’t think you can persuade Facebook to change its mind, so we will all have to live with it. However, there’s plenty you can do.
- Keep publishing content and monitor what impact the changes have on referrals. Plan for the worst impact.
- You need to make sure it’s easy for website visitors to share articles and content they like/enjoy. If a website visitor shares your content, it will appear in their feed as usual. In fact, the algorithm will work in your favour and prioritise it. Make every piece of website content worth sharing… and easy to share. Great content. Big buttons. Clear calls to action.
- No-one can control the changes companies like Facebook and Google make to their algorithms, so don’t rely too heavily on a single source of traffic. Balance it between social, organic, paid and email. Building up your email list through a lead generation strategy is hard work and takes time, but you own the data and the relationship. With a good list, Facebook and Google can do what they want and it won’t impact you.
- If you haven’t tried it already, it might be time to advertise on Facebook. Of course, with more organisations likely to be exploring this route, prices could go up due to increased competition. But I’m sure this wasn’t Facebook’s intention – this change is all about the user!
- Facebook no-doubt also wants you to use more of its own media creation tools, like Facebook Live. At the end of the day, Facebook want people to stay on the platform for as long as possible. So think about how you can experiment with Facebook Live and use it to get your messages across within the Facebook environment. If you’re new to Facebook Live, this blog is a great intro: http://3vbiz.com/past-present-future-facebook-live-business-value-benefits/
There is obviously a lot of debate and opinion about the Facebook algorithm update. Below are some of the best articles I’ve read. They are all worth reviewing, so you can fully understand the impact.
Announcement from Facebook: June 29
Reactions, blogs, rants and articles
- Fast Company: Seven Ways Facebook’s Big Algorithm Change Will Affect Marketers And Publishers
- New York Times: Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family
- Forbes: Facebook's New Algorithm Change Is A Blessing In Disguise
- Buzzfed: Facebook’s Unsettling Referendum On News. 1.65 billion voted with their News Feeds.
- Huffington Post: Facebook just gave the finger to millions of people who use it for news
Thanks for reading. I hope you found it interesting or useful. Ideally both!
I’m a freelance digital consultant who helps organisations think through their digital strategies, plus tackle planned and unplanned challenges like this. What’s the biggest digital challenge you’re facing? Maybe I can help.