Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg made headlines as he announced that Facebook would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from family and friends. It’s a shift back to Facebook’s core mission as a social network, and a change that aims to create more meaningful interactions between people.
The good news is, this means we’ll see better content from the people we care about when we’re scrolling through our feeds—but what does this mean for brands and publishers who are looking to reach their audiences? We broke down the five things you need to know about Facebook’s algorithm change.
“Meaningful engagement” is prioritized. The new algorithm is all about encouraging social connections and helping users find relevant content. This means Facebook will prioritize posts that its algorithms predict will encourage meaningful “back-and-forth discussion”. The idea is that people will engage with the content they’re served, rather than scrolling passively through their feeds.
Quality over quantity. Publishers should be looking to better understand their audiences and the kind of content that will spark conversations. This means less “engagement-bait” style posts, and more relevant content that resonates. If a user is passionate about specific products, services, causes and organizations, and they are engaging with that content, they will continue to see more of it. Pages that are sharing posts with low, or zero engagement will see the biggest decrease in distribution.
Consider new content opportunities. Facebook points to video—and in particular, live video, as being one type of content that often prompts discussion among users. As Facebook shares less organic content from media outlets and businesses, placing priority on posts by individual people, it’s also an opportunity for brands to consider partnerships with the influencers that are best connected with their audiences.
Harness the people that care about you. The people that care about a brand or organization—including its employees—are an asset. Facebook’s algorithm changes are an opportunity to connect with the audiences that are already advocates, and motivate them to engage with content on Facebook.
Paid distribution is critical. Facebook should be considered a paid channel—brands can no longer rely on organic posting alone to reach their audiences. It’s also important to note that Facebook’s ad algorithm has not changed—which means that for now, ads will continue to be distributed in the same way.
Ultimately, these changes are an opportunity for publishers to revisit their content strategy and dig into who their audiences are, and what they care about. For Facebook, it’s an effort to improve user experience, and to increase trust in the news we see from the social network over time. Last week, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would work on identifying “trusted sources” based on community feedback. This puts the onus on the user to decide if a news source is “trustworthy, informative, and local” through a short survey. Though Facebook isn’t depending on the surveys alone to determine what users see, it’s a controversial move in the battle against fake news.
——— Emily Farlow is a former Content Strategist at NATIONAL Public Relations