Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook will significantly change its algorithm over the next several months. The move aims to increase interaction between friends and family, which was the original focus of the social media site. At the same time, the Facebook algorithm change will decrease posts from businesses and brands in news feeds.
If you've put a lot of time and resources into building your Facebook brand page, this news probably isn't welcome.
"Businesses stand to lose the ability to get in front of people for free on Facebook," says John Lincoln, CEO at digital marketing agency Ignite Visibility. "Some companies have invested hundreds, thousands or even millions to build these communities. Overall, [paying for] advertising is likely to increase to compensate."
The Facebook algorithm change is a big move for Facebook, notes Warren Cohn, CEO and founder of HeraldPR, a public relations and digital marketing company.
"Years ago, Facebook moved away from the friends and family model and more towards an ad revenue focus," Cohn explains. "This latest move flips that strategy on its head."
Is There an Upside to the Facebook Algorithm Change?
The Facebook algorithm change doesn't mean that business pages will be entirely excluded from the newsfeed, according to Jason Hsiao, co-founder of Animoto, a cloud-based video creation service that produces video from photos, video clips and music.
"Ultimately, this shift is about shedding the less-than-useful and less-than-relevant content that's been creeping into the news feed," he says. "Facebook is focusing on how people spend time on the platform to connect with the people who matter to them. So as long as businesses create relevant content that their communities care about, they'll win."
—Jason Hsiao, co-founder, Animoto
Jenn Herman, founder of Jenn's Trends, which focuses on Instagram marketing, agrees.
"The latest algorithm change is designed to benefit users, not marketers," she says. "But, let's be clear. If there are no users, because they're unhappy with Facebook, marketers have no one to market to anyways."
According to Herman, the Facebook algorithm change aims to improve interactions between users.
"This means more conversations and dialogue, rather than passive views and casual reactions," she says. "Going forward, comments will be the gold standard that public pages will strive for. If businesses create quality content that is relevant and valuable to audiences, then this update will actually benefit them."
Navigating the Facebook Algorithm Change
While the Facebook algorithm change is inevitable, there are tactics that may help ease the transition for you. These steps can help your business continue to benefit from your Facebook presence.
1. Leverage Facebook ads.
"On a positive note, the ad targeting abilities on Facebook are better than ever before," says Lincoln. "To compete, businesses can consider reducing the amount they spend on community building ads and increasing the amount they spend on promoting content.
"At the same time," he continues, "it's advisable to look into the many Facebook ad capabilities in addition to promoting content, including lead generation ads and website visit ads."
2. Incorporate video.
Zuckerberg noted in his announcement that live videos have garnered a great deal of attention recently, and that video overall will continue to grow.
"For brands that haven't done this yet, this is the signal to get on board the live video train," says Miguel Lantigua, social media strategist at EMSI Public Relations. "Live video is a great way to engage with an audience. Facebook sees it as a more personal way to interact and will therefore continue to let businesses benefit from it."
In order for businesses to have success with video on Facebook, Hsiao suggests focusing on content your community genuinely cares about and can benefit from.
"Smaller businesses have a unique advantage over big brands with this, because they often have a more niche audience or offering," he says. "Businesses that focus on content their audiences want to receive and are willing to share will be winners in the long run."
3. Combine marketing strategies.
Hsiao advises adjusting your mindset regarding various marketing strategies.
"Avoid focusing separately on your social media strategy, your email strategy, your website strategy, your blog strategy and your video marketing strategy," he says. "It should be one combined strategy. Focus on what message and content your community needs to know and/or cares about. Then use all of your available channels to deliver that message and content."
4. Focus on quality.
In his Facebook algorithm change announcement, Zuckerberg stressed quality over quantity.
"Businesses need to post less content on Facebook," says Herman. "Gone are the days of posting for the sake of posting. If your posts are not high quality and valuable, don't share them. Pages should also reflect positivity. Uplifting topics and helpful content will increase reach and engagement."
5. Prioritize driving traffic to owned properties.
Any social network can announce changes at any time, believes Aly Jamison, owner of Jamison PR.
"That's why websites and email lists are so important," she says. "It's a good idea for companies to have a platform that they can control."
The golden rule of digital marketing is to avoid building a platform on rented online space.
"Your best bet is a website as your main designation online," says Lincoln. "Invest in social media, but know that at any point you could lose that reach and traffic channel."
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