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What does Facebook’s newsfeed update mean for your brand?.

The author

India Benjamin

PR & Earned Media Senior Account Executive

Earlier this month, Facebook announced a change to its algorithm which will see newsfeeds prioritise personal content rather than posts from businesses, no matter how relatable or funny it may be.

If you’re concerned this will affect your business, you have a right to be. Historically, brands have been able to build a huge social presence via Facebook – that’s why so many businesses, particularly those who target ‘millennials’, share so many memes, gifs and videos.

All it takes is a few individuals to comment, like, and tag their friends and it blows up on all their connections’ newsfeeds. Share enough relatable content and get in front of the same people a few times, and you’ve gained yourself a new follower.

Log onto Facebook, and it’s likely your personal newsfeed is dominated by brand created content, whether that’s the latest Buzzfeed’s Tasty video, or an In The Style branded meme (caption: tag your best friend *crying laughing face emoij*). A current glance at my own feed shows the top six posts are from brands, one of which is sponsored content.

This is exactly what Mark Zuckerburg is trying to combat. Facebook is a social network, but users are no longer socialising – instead, they are passively absorbing computer-curated content put in front of them by brands, as well as the odd post from users.

By changing the algorithm, Zuckerburg hopes Facebook will be more rewarding and beneficial to people’s mental wellbeing. Which is all well and good, who doesn’t want to be reading about someone’s dinner instead of exploring the humorous content the internet has to offer?

To be fair, Facebook has been heading towards this update for a while, with a lot of organic posts only reaching around 5% of a brand’s followers. So how exactly will this change actually affect your business?

The impact to businesses

Facebook has been very explicit about the impact this will have on publishers and brands, stating upfront that reach, engagement and traffic are likely to decrease. But it’s not all doom and gloom; if you create good quality content that inspires conversation, rather than clickbait, you’ll be affected less.

It mirrors Google’s recent algorithm changes which have prioritised the user experience over links and other off-page metrics, arguably enforcing what we should have been doing all along.

If anything, the update will encourage publishers to really understand their audience and the content they want to see, rather than churning out content in the hope of likes. It’s likely we’ll see more brands turning to paid ads to promote their content, which if done well, can provide excellent results; the update will de-clutter the newsfeed, allowing brands the opportunity to really stand out in front of their target users.

Plus, with Facebook’s goal to changing users from being passive to actively engaged, and less brand competition in the news feed, it’s more likely that users will interact with ads, making them much more valuable from a paid point of view.

How can businesses work with the update?

The obvious way to combat a dwindling organic reach is through social boosting. Driving followers will no longer be as important as it was; instead, creating ads that drive relevant traffic to site will be more beneficial, particularly for publishers like Buzzfeed who have largely relied on Facebook feeds for traffic in the past.

Paying for Facebook ads can help to get your content in front of the right audience, however, in order to get engagement which will help your business, marketers should move away from ‘ads’ as we know it and create genuinely interesting content that converts. For example, using video snippets, image carousels and sharing genuinely useful information is much more likely to be well received by social media users, rather than disregarded as another advert.

So really, it’s about how businesses can be more clever with the social space. Using paid social to target more relevant people with your content, and ensuring the content you do create strongly appeals to your target demographic, will get you in front of the right audience, and will do so in a less cluttered environment.

Turning towards influencers as a marketing tool is the other way to ‘get round’ the update. While they may be a brand in their own right, influencers are first and foremost people like the rest of us – the content they produce mimics the content put out by our friends and family, so Facebook’s algorithm will be happy to show it (for now, at least – it’s possible Facebook may decide to regulate influencers’ organic content as they are now doing to businesses in the future).

With more businesses turning to influencers, it’s important to ensure you are doing it properly. And no, that doesn’t mean throwing money and products behind any influencer with a mass amount of followers. Use audience insight to find out who is most influential to your target demographic, and collaborate with these influencers in a way that doesn’t scream ‘ad’ - the disclaimer will do that for you.

The content should fit in with the influencer’s post narrative, or else risk putting off the audience. No one wants to feel like they are being marketed to. A better strategy is to slowly but steadily let them know your brand aligns with their beliefs. Get at the forefront of their subconscious, and when the time comes they are looking for a new product or service, you’ll spring to mind.

Takeaways

  • Create organic content that inspires conversation, rather than posting clickbait style content/ content with the aim of getting any form of engagement
  • Take advantage of a clearer newsfeed by using hyper-targeted paid social, ensuring that content is interesting and informative
  • Work with influencers to get your brand in front of the right audience organically, ensuring that campaigns are a natural fit for the influencer’s own feed