Mark Zuckerberg’s goal with Facebook has always been to bring people together. Over the years though, Facebook has accidentally shifted away from being consumer focused and has taken on the roll of being a quick, inexpensive, and targeted vehicle for digital marketing, as well as for gaming and online shopping. I don’t know about you, but I predicted the shift in priorities a few years ago when Facebook was in the talks of going public. In order to increase their stock prices and satisfy their investors, they had to show significant profit. How did they do that? Beefed up their advertising vehicle.
However, now that it’s been a few year’s since Facebook went public, Zuckerberg is realizing that it might be time to get back to the basics of what made Facebook popular to begin with… which is bringing people together.
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content–posts from businesses, brands, and media–is crowding out the personal moments. Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook.” -Mark Zuckerberg
In order to achieve this goal, Facebook has decided to alter their algorithm, which we are going to call Facebook Zero. Facebook research showed that their users are most interested in being informed and entertained by their News Feed. We don’t know exactly when the new changes are going to be incorporated, but it will be soon. So, we want to be prepared… because this change WILL impact you and your business.
So far, we know that:
- Fact 1: Our News Feeds are getting longer and longer making prime space more limited. According to Zuckerberg, “Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content–posts from businesses, brands, and media–is crowding out the personal moments.”
- Fact 2: Due to the News Feed becoming more cluttered, Facebook will start including less public content, such as videos and other posts from Pages.
- Fact 3: Pages will more than likely see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease unless they alter their marketing strategy to accommodate the new algorithm.
- Fact 4: The new algorithm will correct the cluttered News Feed problem by making space in our News Feed more valuable causing the need to re-prioritize certain things.
I’ve talked a lot about rankings and prioritization in the News Feed, but I’m sure you’re wondering, “What ARE the important ranking factors?” Well, we know that Facebook will prioritize posts that encourage meaningful interactions (a.k.a. conversation) between people. This means that comments will become even more important than likes. Furthermore, the longer the comment the better. Longer comments will be weighted heavier as it encouraged a more thought out response and probably contributed to a much larger conversation. In a nut shell, conversations between PEOPLE is critical for News Feed exposure… not people and PAGES. For businesses, you HAVE to get your followers to talk with each other about your brand.
Video will also be an element to watch. Currently, watching video on Facebook is very passive. You just sit there and watch it. Generally, you’re not liking or commenting on the video or conversing with friends about ti ON Facebook like you would with LIVE video. So, this means that you will probably see shorter informational videos and more LIVE video.
Here is a quick video to help you further understand how USED to prioritize content in its News Feed:
Generally speaking, there are a few things you can to for better chances of successful posting when the new algorithm hits. Here are a few things that Facebook likes and doesn’t like:
- User Engagement (likes, comments, or shares).
- “Viral Posts” (posts that receive a high volume of engagement in a short amount of time).
- Network Engagement (posts that are engaged with by someone’s friends).
- Posts linked back to creditable articles.
- Posts from accounts that a user engages with frequently.
- Popular Post Types (photo, video, or status update)
- Popular Videos Uploaded Natively
- Trending Topics or Make Timely References
- Posts from pages that are verified and have complete profile information (which provides trust).
- Posts from Pages where the fan base overlaps with the fan base of other known high-quality pages.
Facebook Doesn’t Like:
- Posts that include spammy links, such as fake news sites.
- Posts that are re-posted too many times.
- Text-only status updates from pages.
- Posts that are frequently hidden or reported (a sign of low quality).
- Posts that ask for likes, comments, or shares.
- Overly promotional content from pages.
- Click-bait (posts that say “click here” or “click to learn more” or etc.).
- Like-baiting (which asks you to like a page or post to win a prize).
- Engagement-bait (examples below).
Facebook has also listed five types of known engagement-bait that will be down-ranked in the new algorithm:
Based upon the interviews I’ve watched and research reported of changes seen already, here’s what we know about the algorithm so far:
- News Feeds will show less links to external sources such as blog posts, news, etc.
- Not only will Pages be impacted, but ALL post types… including personal profiles. So, if you thought you were going to get sneaky and just start using your personal Facebook page to promote your business, think again. This also includes groups, by the way.
The impact of Facebook Zero for small business is huge. Because of Facebook’s inexpensive solution for advertising, small businesses are able to compete with big box stores. But if the new algorithm favors people instead of businesses, what can we do? Here are six things you can do now to improve you business’ chances on Facebook:
- Come up with a posting strategy that is less frequent. Yes, content is king, but quality content is even better. With the new algorithm change, you’re really going to have to step your game up and make sure that when you post, it counts!
- Produce content that encourages conversation (between your fans).
- Use video! Especially LIVE video! According to Facebook, LIVE video leads to 6x more interactions.
- Don’t ask for engagement. Engagement-bait/click-bait will be de-prioritized.
- Become a master at Facebook advertisement. Ads will be come more valuable and businesses will HAVE to invest in a digital advertisement if they want to continue to get the same reach.
- Learn what Messenger Chatbots are and if they will be effective for your business. For a lot of businesses, bots allow you to nurture leads and increase conversions.
Facebook Zero is a scary thing for most business owners, however, don’t be afraid! Embrace change, figure out what works and what doesn’t with the new. This will more than likely require you to learn a few new tools (like bots, ads, and live video), as well as alter your Facebook strategy a bit, but it’s worth it and totally do-able.
And if you need help, the UGA SBDC might just be the answer. Simply follow the UGA SBDC on Facebook (or your local UGA SBDC office) and Twitter for content specifically geared towards small businesses, as well as check out our website every now and again to see our variety of digital marketing classes available.
(Source: J. Ashley Panter, Marketing Manager, UGA SBDC, Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner, Alfred Lua, BufferApp)