Just like most people, Facebook has started 2018 with resolutions for the new year. Facebook’s annual goals are usually to make the platform more useful to advertisers and to increase engagement. However, things will be different this year, as Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to drastically change the News Feed algorithm for Facebook in ways that will make it harder for business owners and content publishers to spread their target audience.
The news came from a series of posts Zuckerberg made on his personal page. Facebook’s founder acknowledges that consumers may not be happy with the current state of their News Feed content.
“We’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” wrote Mr Zuckerberg.
In the past, Facebook tried to address this issue by targeting certain bad actors among content creators and advertisers. For example, Facebook has taken action to businesses that use click bait tactics or those who try to trick the system by posting a static image as a video. This latest crackdown will affect all marketers equally. There will simply be less preference given to content from pages that aren’t from family and friends.
“We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products.” continued Zuckerberg in the Facebook post. “The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
A pessimistic person might assume that despite Facebook’s posturing, nothing will significantly change on the platform. But the amount of trouble Facebook found itself in around the world when it came to issues like accurate news and mental health concerns make it necessary for the company to take bold steps to right the ship. Make no mistake, most pages will see engagement numbers go down and advertising costs will rise.
Facebook acknowledge the effect these changes will have in a post on their blog:
“As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
Despite their greater focus on content that promotes conversation, the site will still punish pages that use click and engagement bait tactics to get people to comment. Facebook recommends trying things like live video to increase engagement.
It will take time for marketers to see how these changes play out on Facebook and the best way to adapt their strategy accordingly. In the meantime, business owners and marketers should be ready to see their page metrics decline for a little while until they reach the new normal.
For more recent news about Facebook, read this article on another recent change to the News Feed.