On Thursday, January 11, Facebook announced that it would soon overhaul its algorithm, prioritising personal content over public so that it will help users to have a more meaningful interaction. The changes have been announced following the whirlwind of criticisms thrown towards the site over the past year. Critics blamed the social network site for being a breeding ground for misinformation, using filter bubbles to exploit human vulnerability for profit, and allowing misleading news and propaganda to affect national elections. In the past years, the site has directly involved itself in allowing public content to crowd out personal content from family and friends.
The changes to the News Feed will have a significant impact on the news media. In October, Facebook tested the new system in six countries. It reported a 60 % to 80 % drop in user engagement when it moved all public content to a separate. Several Facebook pages and smaller sites have lost valuable traffic and Facebook engagement altogether. It will now make it harder for publishers and marketers to get their products and services in front of their customers unless they pay to promote them.
Understanding the new algorithm
According to the official announcement made by Facebook, the new algorithm is directed to “connect more” by creating “more meaningful interactions” in order to bring people together. The value of a Facebook post will now be judged by user comments, rather than likes and shares. Comments from customers will create communication, and communication means connection. Pages can easily create comment engagement by asking questions or encouraging people to tag friends to win free gifts. Another key focus in the new algorithm, announced by Mark Zuckerberg is “making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” Page posts will now get search engine optimised only if you offer value to the viewer, making it worth their time. Pulp posting, posting for the sake of posting, and low-quality content will now be buried under a swathe of other posts which are better in quality. Facebook’s algorithm will identify such poor quality content, and probably prevent it from featuring in any news feed in the future.
Why you need to worry about Facebook SEO
With Facebook SEO playing a significant role on brand recognition, brand loyalty, improved ranks in SERP and higher conversion rates, marketers and publishers are scrambling to re-evaluate their digital marketing technique to adapt to the new social media management. Currently, an estimated 80 % of buyers connect to brands through Facebook, and 51 % users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Facebook.
Decrease in Organic Facebook feed
The new algorithm offers less organic reach to brands and publishers which will inevitably lead to fewer engagements. When it was first tested in six countries, Facebook experimented on two feeds – one for personal content from their family and friends and the other for public content from businesses and publishers. Despite the experiment, Facebook will stick to only one news feed as before. The Explore feed will now move all posts from publishers and people they don’t follow to a hard-to-find “Explore feed”. This will include both posts from profiles (family and friends) and pages (businesses and publishers).
The new algorithm has no place for quantity
It is no reason for brands and publishers to be discouraged because Facebook has stated that it will continue to give top rankings to page posts that “spark engagement and conversation.” Quality is now the principal focus. Posts should focus on creating conversations by prompting comments through relevant topics, questions, and shareable content. ‘Engagement baits’ that prompt people to like for one thing and use their love reaction for a different vote, and links to low-grade web page experiences will be demoted by the new algorithm. Quality in social media marketing will now mean content that attracts likes, comments and shares. It will prefer pages with a diverse content strategy that has videos. Pages with quantity approach will need to revamp their social media strategy or risk getting demoted.
Paid content promotion
The new algorithm will now require businesses and marketers to not only work on quality content for a successful Facebook strategy but also come up with a strategy for paid content promotion. Paid social media strategy will now become a key for brands that invest their time in crafting high-quality content. With a low organic reach, brands will now need to invest just as much time and money into seeding their content, as they do in creating it. It is now the only gateway for people to see the carefully crafted content.
Increase in advertising costs
There is a lot of uncertainty in the market concerning ads revenue after the recent changes in the news feed algorithm. Many believe that it could drive up the cost of advertising on Facebook, putting more pressure on businesses and publishers. Advertisements could possibly go up as high as 25 percent, according to a large digital ad buyer. Brands will have to spend more money on advertising while at the same time creating high-quality content and get more creative with the medium of content they are using.
Despite the scary changes that the new algorithm will possibly bring bout in the coming months, Facebook is all about driving engagement on your posts, albeit in a non-spammy way. Pages will benefit highly from offering users “raw content” by putting more focus on live videos because according to Mark Zuckerberg, “live video on average gets six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
Since 2017, Facebook has seen the rise of influencers, making valuable input to the marketing world. Once the new algorithm gets implemented, it will possibly see more “public” content from micro-to-mega-influencers operating from their personal account. Since organic reach has declined in Facebook, advertisements will become a big part of the marketing mix – Ads that will focus on target audience and get your message across. The change will not affect businesses that have already been using Facebook to engage with the audience. Big traffic declines will be experienced only by those brands that have been using Facebook to amplify their business.