On 11th January Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was ordering a major change in “how we build Facebook.”
Instead of focusing on surfacing “relevant content” for users, Facebook will now focus on “helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed for Facebook, explained that this means promoting posts that are more likely to create real conversations between real people.
Many top social media experts say this change is, as yet, not a big deal. The advice to publishers and page owners was not to panic and keep on posting.
Facebook bosses say that one result of the change to the Facebook News Feed algorithm would be users seeing less “public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.” This is not a result of Facebook devaluing those sources, they say, but because the vast majority of the content from those sources creates only very little “meaningful reaction” by users and this is what Facebook are striving to reach.
For page owners, particularly businesses, brands and media, the concern was that the little organic reach they still had would be reduced to near zero but many social media experts have a different view.
What did some social media marketing experts have to say? Below are just some of their opinions.
– “Don’t panic: The Facebook announcement is no big deal” Organic reach was already dead. It had been in decline for years, and prior to this update was at less than 1 percent for the average page. The winners will keep winning. Pages that have been able to generate massive engagement have always beat the stats quoted above, and they still will under the new change. Content that is not seen is worthless. It has been true on Facebook for a long time that content that doesn’t cause engagement won’t get seen. So, this really isn’t new. Content has to matter to your audience. That also has always been true; Facebook is just forcing you to remember it;
– “Facebook marketers are already fumbling the news feed change.” Marketers have only themselves to blame for the change. They seek to abuse and gain any free opportunity, and they cry foul when the platform owner changes the rules to exclude their valueless ploys. The kind of content that Facebook will now devalue in the news feed never did businesses any good anyway. Facebook’s moves to protect the quality of their users’ experience should be what business owners want, too, and they should work in partnership with Facebook to satisfy this mutual goal. Stop whining and blaming Facebook, and get down to the hard work of good marketing;
– This change should not come as a surprise, Facebook has been telegraphing it for a long time. Most business content on Facebook deserves to be hidden because it sucks. But Facebook is too big to ignore. Instead, create content that stimulates meaningful responses, encourage user- and employee-generated content, use live video, (and more suggestions you can see in his post);
– Facebook’s announced change lines up with what many social media experts have been telling you for years. Facebook is not a solution to your marketing woes; it is a tool to leverage like any other. Brands have to work harder at what they should have been doing on social media all along: being personal and engaging in ways that are meaningful and memorable to their audiences (not trying to gain fake or worthless engagement).
Some influential social media marketers are saying that the message is this: Diversify your marketing by seeking out and developing all the useful channels for building and maintaining an audience. Embrace the paid advertising of Facebook, the targeting and reach of Facebook advertising is a tremendous opportunity. Smart marketers will spend more time there and less on agonizing over organic reach.
Never get dependent on anything “free” that is owned by someone else. Sure, make use of it while you can, and develop whatever opportunities it affords, but always treat it like it might disappear tomorrow — because sometimes it does.