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Facebook updates its news feed algorithm regularly. But the latest update changed how brands and publishers interact with users in a very fundamental way. We interviewed Bookmark’s Social Media Lead, Ruxandra Gheordunescu, to help Marketers understand the costs of the social media giant’s latest major shift.

Can you break down Facebook’s new news feed algorithm?

Once again, Facebook has updated their news feed algorithm. This time, they’re going to prioritize posts coming from friends rather than posts coming from the companies or brands that we follow. This is going to affect every page on Facebook so no brand will be able to escape it. It’s going to be especially impactful for the pages and brands that rely heavily on Facebook’s referral traffic and that are led by organic activity. Most pages will see a drop in organic numbers, reach, impressions and engagements in the next few months.

On the other hand, page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in news feeds. Comments will weigh much more than any other type of engagement i.e. likes, reactions, shares. Posts that start conversations will see their thread get priority over other page posts on Facebook.

If nothing else, what should publishers remember at all costs?

If your post is not likely to generate conversation and comments then you should ask yourself “should I post this at all?” Because in time, if you keep posting content that doesn’t get any comments then your page will be pushed towards the bottom of the news feed. Many pages on Facebook were relying heavily on the platform for referral traffic. Now, what Facebook is trying to do is encourage pages to create content that will keep people on the platform and keep them engaged in a conversation. This will be the very first rule of thumb moving forward, if it doesn’t spark conversation it shouldn’t be on Facebook in the first place.

From a media perspective, brands should start treating Facebook like any other paid distribution channel like radio, TV, or print. If you want to reach the 2 billion people on Facebook you won’t reach them for free anymore. Brands that haven’t been doing this already should start dedicating a specific paid budget to Facebook’s channel.

Is there another social channel that’s better for brands now?

Nothing compares to Facebook from a pure reach and targeting perspective.

How should content marketers arm themselves?

Regarding content creation, publishers and brands invested in content marketing should always look at innovating. If your page has been posting primarily links to blogs or other features to get referral traffic then you should re-evaluate your strategy, innovate and create more engaging content. It is a challenge for content marketers because in the past you could write a blog post and share it on Facebook without having to think too much about how the content looks natively on Facebook. Now marketers will have to start considering more engaging, social-first formats and approaches. It will push us to think of how we can create channel specific content rather than publish and post.

For some businesses it will make sense to keep in touch with their communities by creating a Facebook group, where they can continue to update their most loyal followers on news, events, promotions etc. Since 2017, pages on Facebook can create groups and invite their followers to join and become part of their community.

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