It’s Facebook’s world. We’re just posting in it.
Never has that been more clear to businesses than with the recent explanation of Facebook’s News Feed priorities. The company announced several small tweaks to their algorithms yesterday that will likely impact the reach of pages, though such tweaks are not really that surprising. They’re part of a larger trend in algorithm shifts meant to reflect what Facebook sees as the “core values” of the News Feed. Here’s the breakdown.
- Friends and family come first. Connection with loved ones is sort of the cornerstone of the platform, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that they’ll be trying to place content from people you engage with most toward the top of your feed.
- Facebook’s News Feed is intended to both inform and entertain. As such, a person’s feed, based on their engagement with content over time, should become saturated with posts that are relevant to their lives and likely to prompt further engagement.
- Though it’s good to giggle, Facebook will be working to filter out “spammy” and “sensationalist” content in an effort to give users a higher quality News Feed experience.
On face, none of this is really shocking. Like we said, these ideas have long been in play when it comes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithms. The reason the announcement is significant is that it’s the first of its kind, and its prominence paired with its ambiguity has some on edge for a number of reasons.
What will this really mean for our News Feeds? What will it do to business pages? How will it impact business social marketing strategy? And, most importantly: how can I help my business succeed under such shifting algorithms?
Fortunately, we have a few tips for you.
Drop the Clickbait
There is a never-ending library of articles out there teaching you how to create eminently clickable and shareable headlines. We’re talking “15 reasons” for anything under the sun and Upworthy-esque “you won’t believe” proclamations and templated promises with carefully constructed “edginess.” And for years now, that sort of strategy has worked. People respond to it.
But if Facebook is going to start culling out content they see as “spammy” or “sensational,” an ounce of caution might prevent a pound of pain down the line. We don’t know for sure how they’ll flag such content. Will it be user driven? Will the algorithm be programmed to recognize red flags in titles? Until we have a better idea of what’s going on, more creative and distinctive titles for your content is likely a safe bet.
Work Multiple Content Distribution Avenues
For the longest time, content marketing focused on distributing content from the company that was hosted on a company’s website. It wasn’t a bad idea. After all, this gave the company maximum control over content and presentation while generating fresh material crafted to improve SEO. And to be entirely fair, that sort of content marketing is still important.
But we don’t know what Facebook intends when they talk about creating a more “informative” News Feed. Will they start giving content from sources widely acknowledged as “credible” better placement in the timeline? Let’s say a consulting firm writes about the importance of social media security and someone at Fast Company does the same, and each article is shared by a different person on your friends list. Would the Fast Company piece be boosted by the algorithm?
The truth is that we have zero idea, but it can’t hurt to hedge your bets by publishing on a variety of platforms, like Linkedin and Medium, or seeking out publishing opportunities with media organizations. There were already folks encouraging such tactics before Facebook made their announcement. Now seems as good a time as ever to give it a shot.
Focus on the Visual
It’s already well-known that visual content is liked, commented on, and shared at a much greater frequency than any other kind of content. Between April and November of last year, Facebook viewership of videos jumped from 4 billion videos a day to 8 billion. Infographics are liked and shared three times as much as any other type of content on the platform. Photos, memes, and quote cards aren’t far behind in the race. In other words, practicing a visual social media strategy has always been a good idea.
That said, a strong visual content calendar is now more important than ever. In a world where business content is less likely to show up at the top of a News Feed, putting out content that is likely to be shared by the friends and family members that are at the top is the best way to make sure your company’s name, brand identity, and ideas are getting in front of the widest audience possible. And if page content isn’t going to be prioritized as frequently as it used to, even when it’s getting shared by a person’s friends, then you definitely want to make sure you’ve got some strong graphic design game going on.
Keep Calm and Keep It Moving
Don’t freak out. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but really — don’t. We all tend to freak out a bit anytime Facebook announces… well, anything, really… and it never does anyone any good. Most of the time there was nothing worth freaking out over in the first place.
The important thing to remember here is that while tactics might need adjusting, your guiding principles of social media marketing have not changed. The goal is still authentic brand engagement. So keep doing what you do best. Be yourself.