Julie Cave
Julie Cave 1 November 2016
Categories Content, Social Media

What The Facebook Algorithm Change Means For You

In June 2016, Facebook announced changes to its algorithm which changes the way we use Facebook as a promotional tool. It seems that most social media platforms prefer brands to pay for exposure and reach, and this is certainly one key outcome of the Facebook algorithm change. Does this mean you should give up on Facebook?

Don’t Give Up On Facebook, But Adjust Your Strategy

Facebook is still an enormously powerful social media platform. Not only does Facebook have 1.6 billion users, but between January and February of this year, Facebook was responsible for 41.4 percent of the referral traffic for news websites, according to data compiled by Statista.

Having said that, the number of brands that promote their posts has also increased by 80% in the last two years. And, organic reach has steadily declined from 7% to about 2%.

Therefore, marketers must hone their strategies for reaching audiences on Facebook as carefully as they craft their strategies for search engine optimization. Every time Facebook makes a change to its algorithm, there can be serious consequences for publishers in terms of the traffic they get to their sites, the way they monetize pages and more. It also becomes more true than ever that low quality content will never see the light of day: high quality content is an absolute necessity when it comes to what you share on Facebook.

What The Facebook Algorithm Changes Mean

Facebook announced that it will start prioritizing content in users’ news feeds that is shared by their friends and family. Meanwhile, it will minimize the content shared by brands and media outlets. This update also allows Facebook to recognize and classify clickbait-like headlines, much like a spam filter in email. This system update will also help Facebook identify Pages and accounts that regularly post clickbait links and headlines, reducing their rankings in the News Feed.

Facebook has said that the new algorithm change will apply to all types of content, and the changes have already been implemented. That means that you are going to get less exposure for your Facebook content whether you write a simple text update or you share a photo, video or link. The fact that the update is coming from your brand page or small business page means that it will not be shown in the news feed as frequently.

What’s clear from this change and the resulting effect on media companies is that 1) Facebook does not value news and information from reputable sources any more highly than it does content that users are sharing (and the emphasis on shareable content is likely going to result in a higher prevalence of “fluff” and click-bait than anything else) and 2) Facebook does not value its relationship to news publishers and it does not see itself as responsible for their financial well-being. For Facebook, content is content, and whatever keeps users’ eyeballs on its site for longer is what Facebook will deem “important.”

An important takeaway for you is that it remains a bad idea to rely heavily on one platform for your business. For example, imagine you’d spent all your efforts, time and money on creating a business page with great content and lots of followers – and in one algorithm change, Facebook could decide that your page and its content will be seen by far fewer people. That’s the kind of mercy we’re all at when it comes to social media platforms. The best idea is to spend your efforts, time and money on something you can control – your website, and to use social media as tools.

Ways You Can Maximise Your Reach On Facebook

Create your own high quality content. One of the few ways your content will be seen is if one of your followers sees your content and then decides to share it. That person’s update will appear in the news feeds of their friends and family. The trouble is getting your users to see that update in the first place. This means that you need to focus on sharing more of your own original content rather than curating content. If someone shares an article from your site, that will be your brand reaping the benefits.

User engagement. It is also important that you focus more on user engagement. If your followers truly enjoy your content, they will go to your page to see what you are sharing. Make sure that you have content waiting for them that makes them feel engaged and ready to share. Past studies have shown that users are most likely to share content that affirms their values and helps them to curate a public image. Make sure you are sharing content that not only reflects your brand’s values but that also reflects the values of your target audience.

Pay for ads. As publishers stare at their declining reach, Facebook’s dashboard will offer a helpful suggestion: “Pay $100 to reach 18,000–24,000 people with this post.” Over time, you’ll probably have to bite the bullet and pay for ads.

High quality content becomes more important. Facebook now takes into account the time people spend on a piece of content (reading/watching) after clicking it. So, suppose you click on an Instant Article link or open a page in its internal browser window. Then, the social platform calculates the time spent by you after the content stops loading. The time is also controlled by content length. So, the updates and websites where users spend more time overall win. They would get served farther and higher in other users’ news feeds. And, this update applies both to personal updates as well as to Facebook pages. This means that the meaningful updates on serious current content (from friends or publishers) will continue to get served to you if you spend time in the News Feed reading them.

It seems that Facebook has decided that user satisfaction is of paramount importance for all platforms and businesses. For businesses who simply want to generate content or promotions, this is bad news. But for those who genuinely want to help their users, it’s business as normal. That’s why we always say that if you are consistently producing high quality content designed to help your audience, then no matter how Google, Facebook and others change their algorithms, you won’t be as significantly affected.

Well known marketing guru Neil Patel of Quicksprout writes:

If you write high-quality, insightful and engaging content for your audience, then this Facebook update is a huge win for you with prominent visibility.

Quality remains the key to digital marketing success, but it’s not always easy to consistently produce content when you’re so busy running your business. That’s where we can help you. Our speciality is crafting content that is compelling and engaging, and that your audience will enjoy. For more information, please contact us. We love to help business succeed!

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