Facebook News Feed Changes: Friend or Foe?

16th May 2018 - 6 minutes read  Social Media
Thaw Naing -

Changes to Facebook’s news feed were announced in early 2018. The update placed a new emphasis on status updates from friends and family, with a view to fostering a focus on personal networks, and reducing news feed dominance from articles and branded content. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, referred to the initiative as aiming to cultivate “meaningful interaction” – an effort to make Facebook more of a force for good.

A ‘friends and family’ feel has characterised the new feed in a bid to ensure Facebook’s services “aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well being”. The changes have already affected all two billion Facebook users’ feeds and public content from businesses; brands and media have been featuring less prominently ever since. The announcement was featured in a blog post from Adam Mosseri (who heads the company’s News Feed) entitled “Bringing People Closer Together”.

It’s hardly surprising that Facebook has been working hard at projecting a benign image following a difficult year at the centre of fake news debates and links with Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election – but what has it meant for brands who build digital marketing campaigns around Facebook’s news feed?

Well, for starters, major adjustments like this had been in the pipeline for quite a while. And if you’re a marketer who depends on Facebook for advertising and brand promotion, you probably know that big changes like these mean focusing on a fresh approach to your strategy.

Mosseri’s blog was fairly blunt about the effects these changes have had on public pages, saying that they may have seen their “reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease”. Apparently, the impact has “varied from page to page, driven by factors including the type of content produced and how people interact with it. Pages that had been creating posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could have seen the biggest decreases in distribution.”

It seems that these changes have also started costing people their jobs, 100 jobs to be exact. At least that was the case for lifestyle site Little Things, where after the changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithms, their business was “decimated”. In fact, Joe Spieser, the website’s CEO, claimed that 75% of Little Things’ organic traffic had been wiped out, resulting in a massive hit to its income.

Understandably, pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will have been less readily penalised, which is perhaps an indicator that marketers should consider devising conversation-driving strategies. It certainly presents an opportunity to look back through Mosseri and Zuckerbergs’ statements for clues as to the kind of methods that will help maintain businesses’ reach and engagement moving forward.

So, what can you do to keep up with the changes so far down the line since they launched?

  1. Keep your followers in the know – If you haven’t done it already, you should consider reaching out to the people who follow your page and explain what’s going on. Encourage them to list you in their News Feed Preferences so they continue to see your content. You could also try making a video to lay out the changes in graphic form, and see whether it generates engagement in the comments below.
  1. Start a conversation – Live videos, for example, average six times as many interactions as normal videos – have a think about fresh takes on traditionally engaging content, and start working on a new strategy to include this in your marketing efforts.
  1. Invest – It’s about time you’ve found some room in your budget for paid media, perhaps even in the short term. While you’ve been acclimatising to the changes and finding ways to make them work for your brand, your organic media could have been suffering the whole time. Invest in keeping your reach at a steady level, even if it’s only a small amount each day.
  1. Stick to your guns – Don’t betray your brand in a bid to attract interactions by using “engagement bait”. Stay authentic, and remember that the News Feed changes have been all about encouraging meaningful content. Poor quality or sensationalist bids for attention really aren’t worth the time and effort. 

These updates have undoubtedly presented challenges for brands and businesses, but they’ve also been part of Facebook’s ongoing evolution. There have been plenty of viable marketing solutions to changes in the past, and there will be plenty more in the future.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to overcome these Facebook feed changes, we’re here to offer our advice. Don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’ll definitely be able to help.