B&T recently published this article by me about Facebook's algorithm update and what it means for users and brands. They've been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Facebook’s algorithm change. The tireless team at Facebook is “always looking for ways to optimize how content is discovered and consumed” in order to show users what really matters to them in their News Feed.
The aim is to serve users with “the right mix of updates from friends and public figures, publishers, businesses and local organizations”.
What are the changes and what do they mean for users and brands?
More content from the same friends and pages
In order to improve the experience for people who don’t have a lot of content to see in the News Feed, Facebook will allow users to see multiple posts from the same friend or page in a row.
This is a good opportunity for brands: they need to understand how to optimize their frequency of posting, always maintaining high quality standards for each content piece.
Friends come first
FOMO? Not anymore. Content posted by friends will now have greater priority and be displayed higher up in the News Feed. Which means, content shared by brand pages will be shown less prominently, or in a lower position.
In this scenario, creating content that people would share will be even more important: it would be a chance for brand to be displayed at the top of users’ News Feed.
However, at the same time, Facebook is testing a new feature for its mobile app, which will allow users to choose which friends and pages will appear at the top of their News Feed. If this feature will be rolled out people will be able to pick what they want to see in a prioritised section atop their feed.
Less engagement stories
According to Facebook, users “don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post”.
Users will see more updates from friends and pages they follow directly, and fewer stories related to third-parties engagements. This will allow brands to establish a more direct interaction with users who will like their content directly, not via a medium friend. On the flip side, brand pages won’t be able to count on organic reach generated by users liking or commenting on their posts anymore.
How all this is going to affect the organic reach, already suffering around the 2% mark? Cryptically, Facebook says that the impact “will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity”.
However, with more than 1.44 billion monthly active users, Facebook remains a network that most of the brands can’t turn their back on. To succeed on this channel, marketers need to know more about the users they want to involve in the conversation.
This will allow brands to create insight-driven quality content, to be distributed with the right frequency at the most convenient time, and to amplify it strategically through a meticulous media targeting in order to serve it to the right audience, based on their interests.
Once again, this new update challenges marketers to reevaluate their social strategy at a broader scale, understanding why and how people connect, share, have conversations and influence, creating value for brands and their stakeholders.
This is what we call Social Thinking.
It requires a totally new perspective, which shouldn’t be platform-focused, but people-focused: knowing and understanding people’s interests and social behaviour inside out is the key to define an effective social strategy, able to drive real business value.