Facebook's algorithm change - what to do now
This blog post was originally written for a digital agency and can be seen here.
It’s official, Facebook is once again changing its algorithm. The news made social media managers break a sweat all over the world, especially since the algorithm change specifically seemed to target advertisers and business pages. In a nutshell, the Facebook algorithm change was put in place because of rising concerns about the relevance and saturation of our newsfeeds. Thanks to concerns over fake news, too much advertising on the platform and numerous other complaints about the Facebook experience, Zuckerberg announced some sweeping changes to the content that shows in newsfeeds.
It’s expected to drastically cut organic reach for business pages (no real surprise there!) and the amount of time people spend on Facebook is also expected to decline. Even the steadfast strategy of paying to get in front of people on Facebook isn’t going to navigate this latest algorithm change. Paid ads are going to have more reach than organic, yes, but it will potentially be less than before.
Friends and family come first
More emphasis is going to be placed on content from friends and family – and also pages that an individual engages with regularly. So, if you’ve built a strong community around your business page already, then you’re in pretty good standing. However, if you have little to no engagement with your page’s content, then you could be in trouble.
Because the focus has shifted more towards the engagement a post recieves, it could be tempting to try ‘engagement-bait’ techniques. However, Facebook has also announced a crackdown on these kinds of posts and any business found flouting the rules will be given a short, sharp slap on the wrist. Mostly in the form of the post not turning up in users’ news feeds.
Keep it engaging
However, the tried and tested technique of posting engaging content still holds true despite the algorithm changes. You should be doing this as standard, but many businesses do fall short in knowing what content their audience will interact with. Facebook’s recently stated aim is to create meaningful interactions. This can take the form of a poll that really strikes users, a news update that really gets people talking or some useful information that makes people want to share with their friends. It all really depends on your business and your audience.
The easiest way you can work out what content works for your page is to test, test and test again! Especially if you’re just starting out, you should try lots of different types of post to see what gets your users clicking, commenting and liking.
Don’t let them miss a thing…
If your page has built a loyal following, you won’t want them to miss a thing as the algorithm change rolls out. Therefore, you should ask them to select ‘see first’ in their news feed preferences for your page. Don’t be shy as many other business pages will be asking their followers to do the same – if you don’t do it, then your competitor likely will!
Facebook has long been in love with video, so video can be a great way to circumnavigate the algorithm change. To go one better, consider using Facebook Live as it’s expected to work well and possibly benefit from the algorithm change.
Create a group
You can also consider creating a Facebook group associated with your business. One caveat, however, is to make sure you have enough time to dedicate to moderating and starting discussions in the group.
Because engagement and interaction is so focused on with the algorithm change, groups which attract a lot of users and discussions will do well. The business page associated with the Facebook group is therefore likely to benefit from it as well.
Splash the cash
Of course, there are paid options as well, if your budget can stretch to it. Paid ads on Facebook will get much more reach than organic ones. However, Facebook will still rank posts that get a lot of interest and interaction higher than ones that don’t. So the point about creating highly engaging content still applies to paid ads.
Diversify your social media
Last but not least, avoid putting all your social media eggs into one basket. Businesses which are present across multiple social media sites are less susceptible to sudden algorithm changes compared to ones with followings solely existing on Facebook. That said, make sure what you share across each channel is different. Use Twitter for short and witty updates, Facebook for longer form posts, Instagram for stunning imagery and so on. If you differentiate your content enough and play to each platform’s strengths, then you give your audience a reason to follow you on each.
Facebook’s algorithm change is just one of a series of changes the platform will likely make in the future as it moves towards prioritising its users’ experience. To really weather the storm that each of these changes brings, you should always be posting good quality, engaging content. Building an audience across multiple platforms can also help future-proof your social media presence. Most of all, placing your customers in the forefront of your mind is probably the best strategy you can follow. It’s a lesson that Facebook has realised, and one that other platforms may be implementing soon.soon.customers in the forefront of your mind is probably the best strategy you can follow. It’s a lesson that Facebook has realised, and one that other platforms may be implementing soon.