12 Jan Old News from Facebook Surprisingly Alarms Business Owners
CNN did an interview today with Adam Mosseri, the Vice President of News Feed at Facebook (yep, that is actually his title). He spoke about a Facebook Algorithm change that will impact Facebook News feed. If you are a publisher, and don’t already know what the news feed is, stop reading this article now and pass it on to someone else in your organization.
If you are a publisher, are not sure about what the news feed is, but want to keep reading anyway, here is a simple explanation. The news feed consists of the list of Facebook posts that each Facebook user sees when they visit Facebook. They rarely browse your Facebook page unless they absolutely fall in love with your content or are discovering your site for the first time.
You can watch the entire interview here, but it really isn’t necessary. The only thing that matters is that Facebook says they are going to prioritize content in a user’s feed based on their prior interactions with that content. The stated goal is to “promote more interaction” on the platform. They will do this by showing the user content from sources that they already engaged with. That means content that they shared, clicked, commented, or “liked”. This is a good time to pause reading in this article and visit your Facebook page. Pay careful attention to how many likes, comments, or shares your posts are getting.
Here is a direct quote from the overlord (Mark Zuckerberg): “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,”
If this in any way surprises you, or you think that this is some kind of pivot for Facebook, shame on you. They have been doing this in incremental steps for more than 18 months. Unless you were trapped in China, Iran, or North Korea, you should have seen the impact in Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. Facebook stopped being a publishing platform several years ago. Engagement is everything. Anyone who has not adopted a strategy of publishing limited content with the highest chance for engagement has already passed their audience on to their competitors.
Showing users content from sources they like as opposed to sources they may have “liked” and recently engaged with in the past is certainly a better visitor experience. This is the public narrative being spewed by Facebook. However, a more cynical person might say they want to increase revenue by forcing publishers to spend more on boosting their content into the news feed of their followers. Facebook is a business and this is a win-win for them. Happier users and more revenue (loads more revenue).
I find it surprising (and insulting) that they are publicly sharing an algorithm change that has already happened. Every decent social media consultant already knew this. The timing certainly dovetails nicely with the planning of social media strategies for 2018. You can expect publishers to put together bigger Facebook budgets immediately. This will make your existing Facebook budget less effective.
Take a moment and think about how you use Facebook. For nearly all of us, we have many more Facebook friends than actual friends. Some of them behave on Facebook like true friends and others are more like stalkers or opportunists. I keep the losers around because it makes me feel like I have more real friends and maybe someday they will contribute something useful. Since I almost never engage with their content, I almost never see their posts.
Some of the pages you are following may actually be behaving better than most of your friends. Rather than selling you something in every post or sharing loads of valueless dreck, they occasionally throw you a gem that makes you want to engage.
The fix for a publisher is surprisingly simple. You just need to behave better than the majority of their friends. You do not need to beat or fool Facebook (you can’t), you just need to be as good (or better) than their best friends.
Here are the critical components for every publisher Facebook strategy in 2018:
- Limit posts that promote your content to no more than one per day until you have better engagement
- ONLY post content that promotes engagement. This means the most engaging article, a killer meme, a contentious item (article or video) from another site, or a compelling video.
- Put aside a reasonable Facebook boost budget so that you can hopefully regain the attention of your existing followers. If you do not change your content strategy, you better be able to create a positive ROI with your Facebook budget and be prepared to pay for traffic forever.
- As engagement increases, carefully adjust your content and boosting strategy to create additional engagement.
The content in this article may appear to some to be condescending. But honestly, this is business. Business is about realizations. Realizations clouded by emotion usually turn into wasted opportunities. The “cosmic” shift in Facebook is no different than what Google has been doing for years. They want a better a visitor experience and they want you to pay more to be part of it.
Some publishers will view this realization as if the sky was falling and they’re screwed. The funny thing is; the sky already fell, they just didn’t want to admit it. Other publishers will see this as a huge opportunity to participate in their fan’s news feeds at the expense of other publishers. Decide which one you want to be.
If anything in this article hits home for you, please share it with your friends, we could all use the engagement…