Facebook News Feed Algorithm Changed
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On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from “friends, family and groups.” “As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg wrote, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Zuckerberg cites “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being” as justification for the change, admitting that businesses are going to have to work harder than ever to gain their customers’ attention on the platform.
As the changes roll out over the next few months, businesses will most likely see a significant decrease in organic reach. Users will also probably spend less time on Facebook, though Zuckerberg hopes the time they do spend on the platform will be “time well spent.”
That seems to be the case, at least based on early data. The number of ad impressions Facebook delivered in News Feed in January was down year over year, and in February ad impressions were up, but at a much smaller rate than previous months.
Fewer ad impressions also means that ad prices are rising. In January, Facebook CPMs — the cost of a thousand ad impressions — was up 122 percent year over year. In February, CPMs were up 77 percent. It marked the two highest year-over-year jumps in ad prices for Facebook over of the past 14 months.
How to continue reaching customers on Facebook
While nobody knows exactly what the impact of the news feed changes will be, there are certainly ways for businesses on Facebook to work with the new algorithm and continue reaching their customers through “meaningful interactions.”
Continue posting engaging, quality content that prompts comments
According to Zuckerberg, “meaningful interaction” means comments, comments, and more comments. In his announcement, he wrote that “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
This means brands should create quality content focused on sparking conversations between users. Try including questions in your posts, or write about timely, relevant topics that users are sure to have an opinion on. The point is, users will be more likely to see your Facebook posts if their friends and family are commenting on it.
But don’t fall into the “engagement-bait” trap
It might be tempting to try and hack the new algorithm by asking your audience to “COMMENT on this post if you like ice cream!!” or something similar. It’s spammy and users don’t like it.
Plus, Facebook says, “Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts isn't a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”
Encourage customers to follow your Facebook Page
One thing that’s not changing about the Facebook news feed is the ability for users to make sure they always see posts from their favourite Pages by choosing “See First” in their news feed preferences.
This means businesses shouldn’t be shy about asking customers to follow their page on Facebook. They could even remind loyal followers about the “See First” option.
Make more Facebook Live videos
Videos are still favoured under the new algorithm, but live videos will be even more important. In his announcement, Zuckerberg wrote that “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
This means if you haven’t already invested time and energy into posting live videos on Facebook, you 100 percent should do so now. This is one of the few concrete examples of content that will perform well under the new algorithm included in the announcement, so we would all do well to pay attention to it.
Invest time in Facebook Groups
Because Facebook Groups already operate on the basis of audience engagement, this marketing tactic will likely serve you well under the new algorithm. Businesses should look into new ways to engage customers with Groups, alongside their Page and advertising efforts.
Increase your ad budget
Organic reach has been declining across social media for years. That means you’re probably already a whiz at Facebook ads. If the algorithm change is indeed leading to less time spent, it should theoretically lead to fewer ad impressions. And fewer ad impressions should lead to higher prices, assuming advertiser demand stays consistent. Businesses must know how to target the right audiences to ensure their advertising dollars go further.
It’s also worth noting that this trend — fewer impressions, higher ad prices — has been ongoing for the past few quarters. Facebook also said in the past that it’s running out of places to put ads in News Feed, which means impressions should theoretically plateau over time as Facebook reaches peak “ad load.”
That seems to be happening. Facebook self-reported that ad impressions were up 10 percent in Q3 2017 and just 4 percent in Q4. The algorithm change may just be exaggerating a trend we were already seeing. It’s also a reminder that Facebook’s ad system is ultimately mechanical — it’s an auction process that sets prices based on demand and competition and isn’t biased toward the buyer, whether it’s a big brand or a political campaign.
These tips are useful for publishing content on all social media platforms—not just Facebook. Facebook is an ads business so it’s worth watching closely to see how changes to its consumer experience impact its bottom line, or advertisers eager to hand over their money. That’s never been a problem in the past. Facebook’s ad revenue keeps going up and up. It made $12.8 billion in ad revenue last quarter, and its total pool of advertisers keeps getting bigger and bigger. As always, there’s no reason to fear algorithm changes if you are already dedicated to providing your customers with valuable, quality content.