Facebook’s announcement on Jan. 11th about its latest changes to its News Feed algorithm brought swift reaction from social media, agencies and others in the sector—and most of that reaction hasn’t been exactly positive.
The social network announced in a Newsroom post by vice president of News Feed Adam Mosseri and in an accompanying Facebook post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the algorithm is being tweaked to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people” and to “prioritize posts from friends and family over public content.”
Adweek spoke to execs at media and social agencies about how this move affects the landscape, as well as some tips on how brands can work in this new Facebook order. Experts weighed in via email examining this major move, and the waves it will make in the industry as a whole.
Billy Boulia, DigitasLBi vice president and group director of social strategy
“While Facebook’s move to prioritize friends’ content over ‘passive’ publisher and news outlet content may shock many marketers and agencies, we should fear not. In addition to not impacting the ad algorithm (for now), Facebook is striving to make its News Feed a place for meaningful and relevant connections. Brands need to take quick action with their Facebook content strategies to dig in to the data on “who” their fans are and what makes them tick so that brand content is synonymous with relevant content.”
Mari Smith, small business and Facebook marketing expert
“The lack of inventory in mobile News Feed was a factor in this decision: 90 percent of users access Facebook via mobile.
There are numerous reasons why Facebook made the change. It wanted to make sure that there’s positive sentiment for users. There has been lot of negative publicity for Facebook of late, particularly due to the election. The timing of this announcement is very interesting with the hearing next week.
Pages and page administrators should:
- Encourage fans and followers to add their pages to Facebook’s see first feature.
- Use Facebook Live more often: Facebook said Live videos are totaling six times the interactions of non-Live videos.
- Use groups more often. Facebook is really building out groups. It’s almost building a new News Feed, a separate Facebook—[are] groups the next Facebook?
- Local small businesses should take steps to be included in the Facebook Local application.
A lot of misinformation has been flying around, including a rumor that Facebook released a list of approved words: ‘Don’t say the word share!’ It is more crucial than ever for businesses to integrate Messenger and initiate one-on-one conversations.”
Blaise Grimes-Viorrt, The Social Element chief services officer
“Facebook will continue to aggressively grow its Watch digital television platform and favor content in the News Feed from shows and live broadcasts. This suggests that Facebook is looking to lure advertisers to switch their marketing spend from TV to Facebook. Facebook’s goal must be to establish engaged communities who are watching and talking about the same events in real-time.
The days of organic reach are definitely over. Businesses already have to invest in ads on Facebook to get their content in front of their audiences. But there will be fewer opportunities to buy ads, so the prices will be higher.
Our advice to brands is to:
- Publish less content via your Facebook page, but focus on more meaningful content that reinforces key brand messages.
- Use Facebook advertising for awareness and promotions.
- Stop any engagement baiting in your posts now—the kind of posts that say, ‘Like this for yes, angry for no,’ and so on. They won’t work.
- Stop posting any content with a link to your blog or website. You cannot rely on Facebook for traffic.
- Go back to your community and produce content that encourages meaningful one-to-many discussions.
- Produce more live videos (not pre-recorded ones).
- Look at setting up groups to build your community.
- Look at the areas that are growing. Chat bots and messaging should now be a definite focus, alongside your Facebook brand page.”
Chris Cunningham, Unacast president
“At times, Facebook is looking like MySpace, as it’s overcrowded, and my guess is other internal metrics show that usage is not tracking the right way.
The impact of the News Feed (algorithm change) will be positive for user experience but terrible for brands, publishers and other third-party players. Having lived through the early days of Facebook as CEO of Appssavvy, I’ve seen the great power Facebook offers business, but also the threat, as simple changes on its side that impact algorithms can put small companies out of business.
Instagram is often used as a channel to post friends and family versus Facebook. In some cases, I actually see Facebook as a news-gathering channel like Twitter and a way for people to market their business or news versus endless pics of families and babies. I personally use it for news and updates, not constant communication.”
Todd Krizelman, MediaRadar co-founder and CEO
“Typically, up to one third of publisher referral traffic comes from Facebook. In the very short-term, publishers will need to back-fill that audience urgently. However, publishers are resilient and certainly used to the capricious nature of the media industry. More than ever, media companies are sensitive to being dependent any one source of traffic. Instead, they are building their own loyalty with their audiences. This is true across editorial categories.”
Kristoffer Nelson, SRAX chief operating officer
“Businesses will need to rethink their Facebook strategies for 2018, starting with reducing their post frequency to share only highly relevant and engaging posts. One question that still remains is: What does this mean for paid content? Will ads and boosted posts be subject to the same limitations? I’m also interested to see in the next few months if Facebook’s ad revenue will surge from businesses putting more dollars behind their content, or if it will drop from businesses redirecting their dollars to other channels.”
Brittany Richter, iProspect vice president and head of social media
“This change will impact the way that we talk about the value of Facebook for advertisers, and that the meaningful interactions that are important in paid really are about driving business outcomes, and not about driving engagement for the sake of engagement.
If anything, this update will further support the point of view that we have had on using paid social to drive true business objectives—not engagements—for a while now. It will also impact the way we monitor the performance of any boosted content, in case we do see an impact there.
Additionally, paid placements are largely unaffected by the change. Advertisers who boost organic content may see a small impact if the content did not receive enough meaningful interactions before it was boosted, but that is only one factor in the auction, so we anticipate minimal-to-no impact here.”
Meg Coffey, Coffey & Tea managing director
“I think this is a game-changer for some businesses. It’s going to push the use of video and live video even more into the forefront. Facebook really wants us using Stories.
Advertising will become the only way to get your messages through to people, and those that rely on Facebook as the distribution channel will totally suffer.
There are some who wonder where people will turn for news now and if, in fact, they will still seek it out; I think they will.”