It was recently revealed that Facebook are planning significant changes to the way content is selected for the news feed.
What is happening?
Zuckerberg says the changes will prioritise content from people ‘you care about’ rather than celebrities, news outlets, and perhaps worryingly from businesses. Rather than assessing content in terms of Likes and Shares, they will begin to focus more on comments and conversations. It will only affect the news feed on your Home page- so content posted on pages will still be visible.
Although the changes have yet to occur, it seems likely that all or most non-promoted content from pages and businesses will be moved from the news feed to the separate ‘Explore’ feeds, while the news feed itself will focus on personal friends. For some time, the reach of business content has been gradually reduced, but this is the most significant single change for some time.
Why is it happening?
Facebook claim to have noticed a reduction in organic content. That’s to say that increasingly, we have been more likely to share a funny video or a post from a news outlet rather than upload our own photos and create our own original posts.
As well as that, they claim that ‘passive’ social media use (not just reading, but Liking and Sharing) doesn’t contribute to the well-being of the user as much as active social media (posting and commenting), and being a conscientious company, they want to help address that. Maybe.
To be slightly cynical, this move will also encourage business pages to explore the Facebook advertising, in a bid to find ways of remaining in the news feed of page followers.
What does it mean for personal users?
Even if you have spent time following pages that interest you, the chances are you will begin to see less of their content unless you click on the ‘Explore’ feeds, or visit their pages individually.
In theory, it will be easier for you to keep up to date with your friends’ posts. However, you can expect to see fewer well Liked and well Shared posts, and more conversations. That means for example, that a post which was Liked and Shared by 20 of your friends may not be displayed as prominently as a post where 3 of your friends are having a debate in the comments.
What does it mean for business users?
It may feel a little sobering for small businesses, for whom social media is one of the most affordable and accessible ways of advertising their services, but all is not lost. There will still be good reason to have a busy and up-to-date page – if not more reason than ever – because when your followers visit it, you want to make sure they stay.
It will also mean that business content will begin to change. Instead of popular content that may get clicks, Likes and Shares, it will be more effective to post content that invites comments and discussion, raising questions and starting debates. This may be as simple as leaving comments below a post, and encouraging people to discuss the content. Hopefully, there won’t be too much deliberate controversy, but that could well be a side-effect of the changes.
Finally, it will mean that if you don’t already, it may be time to start looking at Facebook advertising. This may seem like giving them exactly what they want, but ultimately Facebook is a hugely powerful resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. Their advertising engine is sophisticated and complex, and allows you to effectively target your exact customer profile. Better still, although there is a sweet spot in how much you should invest, you can spend as little as £1 a day and see results.
What can we do?
All of us who use Facebook can now help to promote the content that we like. That used to be as simple as Liking and Sharing, but now it will be a little more involved. If you read a post from a page or a business you love, don’t just Share or Like it – comment below, and get involved in a discussion.
If you’re a business, make sure your page is up-to-date and appealing to visitors, but also make sure you encourage discussion where you can. Get involved in other people’s content by leaving comments. Discuss and debate! Focus on content that is more likely to get a comment – for example, video is often a good place to start.
Of course, we have yet to see exactly how these changes pan out, and how they affect the reach of content, but it is well worth keeping an eye on.
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