There has been a lot of buzz about the pending changes to the Facebook News Feed that were announced last week by Mark Zuckerberg. This post will address what those changes are, why they are being made, and what it means for your business.
Essentially, posts by public sources such as businesses, brands, and media will be deprioritized to favor posts from family and friends.
The primary reason Zuckerberg gives for making these changes to the News Feed is to get back to what the platform was designed to do, which is to “help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”
If you are one of the 2 billion+ users on Facebook, you’ve undoubtedly seen one of your friends announce (or perhaps you yourself have announced) that you will be taking a break (often deemed a “mental health break”) from the platform in an effort to focus on what is most important in life—family, friends, and happiness.
Scrolling through a News Feed filled with content you passively consume may be interesting in the moment but does nothing for your long-term health and well-being. Facebook has deemed the issue so dire that they are making these changes despite knowing that time spent on the platform, among other engagement metrics used in the past to measure their own success—will trend downward.
The real promise is in the long-term viability of the world’s largest social media network. Prioritizing social interactions over public content will improve the user experience (and user health) and therefore, keep them coming back. If Facebook were to continue on without addressing this very real issue, they would eventually meet their own demise.
When the news broke, Facebook stocks took a hit and social marketers across the globe declared the “death of the newsfeed” for publishers. But don’t panic. In reality, these changes should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention, and are likely to have a positive long-term impact on your social media marketing strategy.
Smart marketers will view this as an opportunity to shift their strategy away from heavy content generation and toward a people-first approach. This doesn’t mean halting all creation of content but it does mean crafting fewer, more thoughtful pieces that encourage meaningful interactions between people.
Historically, Facebook business pages have allowed for a monologue of sorts, of useful and interesting tidbits that engage users to click on an article, consume the information, and move on.
However, brands and media organizations have abused this model with excessive pagination, sharing multi-page articles that require users to continually click “next” onto pages with multiple ads and just a tiny bit of content—an exhausting experience. With this shift in News Feed content, favor will be given to content that gives users a greater sense of coherency and completeness.
There is a great opportunity for businesses to pivot to a meaningful customer service experience on Facebook. It’s no longer about the number of followers a page has but how quickly you respond to comments, questions, and inquiries. If you aren’t engaging with and responding to your customers on Facebook, and doing so in a timely fashion, your business will pay the price.
Many speculate that we will see a rise in the cost of Facebook advertising, which will most certainly be the case for brands and businesses that don’t pay close attention to the relevancy of the content they choose to promote.
To date, Facebook is still one of the most cost-effective ways for advertisers to promote their brand and grow their business, and will remain as such for the foreseeable future. The changes to the News Feed will necessitate shifts in your content and social media marketing strategy, but the ultimate result should involve more meaningful engagement with your audience.