What you need to know about Facebook’s News Feed changes

Thought Leadership
On Friday, Facebook announced that it would be changing its News Feed, making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent, and prioritizing content that sparks conversations among family and friends on the platform. Our CSO, Mobbie Nazir, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal and Digiday about the changes, shares her thoughts on how this will affect brands.

How will the latest round of Facebook Newsfeed changes impact brands?
Facebook is making significant changes to the algorithm that controls what organic content users see in their News Feeds. Users will see more posts from friends and less public content from brands and publications. Prioritising what friends and family share is part of an effort by Facebook to help people spend time on the site in what Facebook describes as a more meaningful way. It’s expected that as a result of these changes the time people spend on Facebook and therefore engagement will go down, but that the time users do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. While these changes are designed to deliver an improved user experience, and is a change that is primarily targeted at publishers and organic content, there may be further implications for brand advertising in the longer term.

Focus on supporting meaningful interactions vs passive consumption
Facebook is changing the News Feed algorithm to put more emphasis on content that supports meaningful interactions. This means posts will be prioritised when they drive interactions (likes, comments, shares). While Facebook has stated that it isn’t making any changes to ad rankings at this time, it has indicated that if a page post is getting less organic reach due to the algorithm changes, brands might see an impact within the ad’s auction if the post has been promoted. Therefore, brands need to focus on continuing to create content that people want to engage with and share, not just relying on paying to appear in the newsfeed. Longer term, brands need to prepare for an environment where we see fewer, higher value ads on the platform.

Raising quality benchmarks of content on the platform
Facebook’s decision to favour “social interactions” over other forms of content may please its users but will be a challenge for some brands. As Facebook takes these steps to improve its user-experience, brands on Facebook must look to create content that genuinely taps into people’s social needs and motivations. Marketers need to be smarter with content and understand what resonates with the consumer and why. In order to overcome some of the challenges in the short term, Facebook has recommended that brands focus on business outcomes first, not on trying to force audience engagement through tactics such as click-baiting. But it remains to be seen what Facebook judges as meaningful interactions.

Brands with media budget behind them are unlikely to be heavily affected by these changes. However, brands do have an opportunity to improve their organic reach by making content more meaningful, perhaps posing more questions to encourage deeper interaction. As marketers, we need to continually challenge ourselves to create content that matters to our customers, while staying true to the brand.