Yes another change! Facebook has changed the way your page feeds look to make it “more personal”, sans any notification or advice to users (though they did make an “announcement” on their blog and through certain news channels). One could be forgiven for thinking it was all too discreet and easily missed.
To put matters in perspective, this is not the first episode in the continuing saga between FB and advertisers and publishers vying for users’ space and attention. Facebook has made a few notable tweaks in their feed algorithm over the past years –
- April 2015 – “News Feed Prioritises Friends”
- August 2013 – “Facebook announces new changes to the News Feed ranking algorithm”
- October 2009 – “News Feed Prioritises Popular Posts”
Facebook is one of the few platforms that offer a large and free organic reach for businesses big and small (albeit this has been decreasing over recent years) With thousands of businesses vying for readers attention every day, quite naturally FB pages have been getting a wee bit overcrowded, which means more competition on users’ “engagement time.”
So what are the changes this time?
On the day of the announcement Adam Mosseri, VP of Product Management, News Feed blogged “The goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. Today, we’re announcing an update to News Feed that helps you see more posts from your friends and family.”
Lars Backstrom, Engineering Director of Facebook also quipped “Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”
That of course was Facebook’s intention initiale though somewhere along the way advertising dollars got involved and THAT is always a game changer.
The latest tweak is the “ranking order” of posts on news feed, the algorithm change means that users will now see posts from friends and family at the top of their feed whilst pages or brands that they may have previously “Liked” or followed will now be relegated somewhere at the bottom of the feed.
Which begs the question – if FB wants to be the “goto” place for everything under the sun – news, entertainment, sports, dining, counselling, dating, is this a well thought out strategy?
Publishers pay for preferential mentions on Facebook which accounts for about 20% of revenue generated, which is why the collective sigh (of resignation) to the feed changes is quite audible from this community.
Whether this means Facebook’s “ad space” will now be costlier for them remains to be seen but surely that would be one fallout at the least.
For the Facebook User – Can I still choose to see what I want?
Yes, albeit involves a little more effort than just one click – 3 clicks actually.
1 – Click the page or profile you want to see (assuming you are already a friend or follower)
2 – Click the blue “Following” button on mobile or “Liked” on desktop and a dropdown will appear.
3 – Click “See First” and you’ll always see their content
And of course you can still continue sharing links and videos with your friends/family, the best way to do this is by tagging them (especially photos and videos).
Top tips for publishers/businesses
Who is your audience? It is worth the effort to try and understand your Facebook client base, and what their preferences are, the age group, interests, what are the types of posts or news/videos that they like to interact with. And tailor your content accordingly.
Quality posts = *Call to action Where possible include calls to action in your posts, rather than directly asking to like or visit your link/web page. Not only does this create more engagement with your audience it will also stand out as a quality post.
*Call to action: contact us, sign up etc
Timing – still remains a critical factor for any marketing or publicity whether that’s your own post or brand marketing. Again this is something that involves observing audience behaviour, what are the times that they are most active on FB and scheduling your posts during those times
Videos – are truly trending right now if your story can be told through an interesting video that is tenfold better than just text and images.
Content really is King/Queen – and if what you are putting out there is not up to scratch then you might as well not post at all. If you are selling a product or service make sure you list “product reviews” or feedback on your site too it all adds to your credibility via social proof
Variety– of content/topic is a sure shot winner, if you can post on different topics or an issue (relevant to your audience) that is again a big tick for engagement.
Post Consistently – Try to post/share/like at least once a day this keeps your readers and followers engaged with you. More importantly it will prevent News feed from filtering out your content from people’s feeds, if there is no engagement the feed interprets your posts as being “uninteresting.”
The best approach of all is experimentation. Perform small tests on your page and view your metrics to see what is working. Data driven marketing within this ever changing environment is key.
Guest blog by Priya Singh Das