Facebook recently announced in its blog that it has made some changes in its News Feed algorithm. The News Feed is basically where you see all the updates from your friends and family. Facebook Engineering Manager Varun Kacholia said that the goal of the News Feed is to show the right content to the right people at the right time. With more people getting more news and current events update on Facebook, the social network giant decided to leverage that growth.
In a study done by Pew Research, it showed that 78 percent of Facebook news consumers get their regular dose of news updates on the site despite logging in for different reasons. Referral to media sites also increased by more than 170 percent last year with TIME’s referral traffic increasing by 208 percent, BuzzFeed by 855 percent, and Bleacher Report by 1,081 percent.
So what did Facebook actually do? Its News Feed update is ranking what people want to see based on its relevance. In this case, it means news and current events. It also means posts that garner the most likes and comments. The tweak also takes into consideration popular posts of your friends and bumps it up if it gets new comments. Facebook added that they have seen how its users are increasingly clicking on high quality content articles, ranging from current affairs, to their interests, and even to the latest memes. However, the company also did say that it will improve its algorithm to further distinguish the difference between high quality articles and simple photo memes.
At first glance, this tweak may seem harmless and done with noble intentions. But what social media marketers don’t know is that this will dramatically change their strategy. Here’s a quick look on its implications along with some tips that will help you in your social media management:
1. Brand pages are in danger of becoming obsolete.
With Facebook prioritizing news articles from media channels, your posts may not be seen as frequent as you want it to be. Ignite Social Media released its recent report analyzing 689 posts of 21 brand pages, showing that the organic reach of the brands declined by an average of 44 percent since Facebook rolled out the change. Now those numbers have huge repercussions because it means that customers are unable to like your posts or comment on them because they don’t see them! Ignite has already forwarded their report to Facebook in hopes of resolving this algorithm mistake.
Tip: Spruce up your website. Most social media marketers invest a huge chunk of their time updating their Facebook accounts not realizing that their website can do so much more for them. Share something from your site more frequently. Double your efforts in linking to your website via other social media sites such as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. It doesn’t mean you’ll stop posting on Facebook, it just means that you’ll continue doing so while doing it twice as much in other channels—most especially if the activity in your brand page is dwindling.
2. The battle for high quality content will intensify.
Facebook has not been really clear on what is “high quality” in their standards though they have initially identified news links as one of them. For now, Facebook Product Manager Lars Backstrom said content quality is being determined at source level. This means that if your website or content source is credible, Facebook will most likely prioritize it. The company has been particularly wary of memes as these seem to fall under “low quality” in their radar. Quality content has become the battle cry of Google’s algorithms over the past years and Facebook is doing the same, one tweak at a time.
Tip: Produce high quality content consistently. It should be helpful, compelling, and relevant all at the same time. You have two venues for this—your website and another partner site. Guest posting is mainly done on partner sites. Establish strong ties with sites that are known for its credibility and expertise in the industry. Tie up with magazines and other media channels and start submitting high quality content to them along with incentives that will make their readers engage with your brand. Once published, share it on your Facebook page. This will also give your more confidence and motivation to continue coming up with high quality content because your peers recognize it.
Facebook said that this change is not meant to target certain sites as they are merely trying to align their definition of value with their users according to Backstrom. While this may be the case, we cannot deny the glaring reality that this tweak is changing the way we do social media. As you wrap up your year and start laying out your marketing plans for 2014, make sure you include strategies that will respond to the News Feed dilemma that Facebook has presented. It may mean more work but you can’t simply ignore Facebook’s reach just because it forces you to do more. Look at this change as a challenge that will add quality and depth to your marketing efforts and improve your strategy altogether.
About Pepper Social Media
Pepper Social Media is an online marketing firm that specializes on social media management, content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media marketing, copywriting, and targeted blogging. Our creative team consists of experienced marketing strategists who can fortify your brand identity and amplify your reach.