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How to Evolve with Facebook’s News Feed Change

5 MINUTE READ | January 18, 2018

How to Evolve with Facebook’s News Feed Change

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Zaayer Merchant

Zaayer Merchant has written this article. More details coming soon.

Facebook recently announced its most significant algorithm change since the platform’s creation – choosing to prioritize content from family and friends over brands and publishers in the coming weeks. This means posts that inspire conversations and better engagement among friends will now be favored over other content from brands, news sources, and companies.

While the industry panicked over the lack of specificity in Facebook’s statement, one Facebook representative said, “the important thing to note is (that) with this change, while organic reach potentially will decline, we are not making any changes to ads ranking at this time.”

Adding later that, “As our ads auction already optimizes for user value, we encourage advertisers to continue focusing on driving real business outcomes. In addition, creative excellence will definitely come into play as users are seeing more and more posts that inspire them.”

We think it’s safe to say that these new changes will now make quality content more important than ever. For many years, marketers have talked about the happy (read: not so happy) marriage of content and media. This algorithm update practically stacks the deck to ensure brands and agencies are creating content that is not only worthy of views, clicks, and engagements but more importantly, content that is truly compelling and valuable to the user.

Despite little clarity on why Facebook made the decision, and what the effects of its implementation will do to stock prices and the overall value of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the platform is changing the news feed so that users can have “more meaningful social interactions.” Going on to explain that the balance of the news feed was becoming overcrowded with publisher and public content and had “shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.”

Because space in the news feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means Facebook will display less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

    • The impact will vary from Page to Page and will be driven by factors including the type of content the brand produces and how people interact with it.

    • Pages generating posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the most significant decreases in distribution.

    • Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see minimal change in exposure.

Now that organic strategies are becoming increasingly difficult to implement, brands that rely on Facebook to reach their target audience suddenly have one of two choices: evolve or pay.

The first option relies on creative excellence, meaning that brands must vastly improve the quality of their content to gain credibility and engagement alongside the personal posts of friends and family. Furthermore, as this change takes hold, users will expect a higher standard of content in all posts including the ‘sponsored’ ones that show up in their timeline. Paid advertisers will be forced to improve their creative in order to cater to this higher standard of content or risk being completely ignored.

Although Facebook has been a pay-to-play space for some time, publishers and brands that will be losing organic impression share will need to start paying to have their content seen by users. Increased demand for attention but no obvious increase in supply can only mean one thing: the cost of impressions is likely to increase at auction, requiring existing advertisers to spend more in order to retain their impression share.

Because organic strategies are now less likely to reach their intended audience, publishers and pages will rely more on paid content to get their message across. Moving forward we’d recommend the following for all brands and pages:

Avoid “like” bait: While engagement will help to increase a brand’s organic reach, brands still need to avoid engagement bait type content (i.e., “Like this post for a chance to…”) as this is flagged by Facebook and decreases overall organic reach.

Expect a potential increase in cost in auction: As more users are forced to enter the advertising space, CPM and cost-per-click rates costs will most likely increase.

The crux is that if you’re not good at creating content, it’s time to get good in a hurry. A potential place to start would be to invest in multi-variant creative testing to give you the insights to catch up quickly. And for those that have already been creating engaging content, paid activities are more essential than ever to ensure that content receives the visibility it deserves.

Facebook’s new emphasis on prioritizing content may require the development of new strategies for some brands, while others already have creative excellence mastered and should continue to see positive performance on the platform. No matter which side of the equation your brand is on, PMG will continue to develop new testing opportunities and help our partners navigate changes.

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To learn more about Facebook’s decision to adjust course, be sure to check out their press release here.