We follow a lot of businesses on our personal Facebook accounts, and when the New Year rolled in, the vast majority of them posted to wish their followers well and all the best for 2018.
It was a nice thought, and that was followed up by some brands over the next couple of weeks advertising offers and items in their January sales in a bid to accumulate interest and drive traffic to their website.
Something that brands have been doing for years. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to think of a time when Facebook was anything close to its original form that made it so popular, where users could only see posts from friends and family.
In his New Year’s ‘address’ though, owner Mark Zuckerberg announced that his resolution for 2018 was to ‘fix Facebook’. The way to do that, it seems, is to limit the way brands both large and small can interact with existing and potential customers.
On 11 January, Zuckerberg, after much thought you’d assume, wrote “recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments [from friends and family] that lead us to connect more with each other.”
He went on to add that Facebook’s News Feed has an effect on people’s mental health before saying that that the social giant is to “[change] the news feed algorithm to surface relevant content that facilitates meaningful social interactions among your friends and family.”
What it means is there’s a new algorithm on the way that Facebook say will take it back to its roots and put the content made by people’s friends and family at the forefront of their news feed. The casualties will be brands, with the algorithm set to sacrifice the reach businesses have with the more than 2 billion people signed up to the platform.
For small businesses who have invested hundreds and thousands into growing their audience on Facebook, it’s quite the kick in the teeth. Facebook’s billions mainly come from advertising revenue, but with Zuckerberg the fifth richest person in the world with more than $70 billion to his name, he feels it’s a change he can afford to make.
The pros and cons of the changes for your business
The cons, we’ve pretty much outlined. One of Zuckerberg’s biggest concerns is that video content has become so popular that users are generally sick of seeing constant nonsense in their feeds. Adam Mosseri, VP of news feed at Facebook, says that people are now only likely to see posts that are of high-quality and those with heavy interaction.
In short, that means brands reaching to make use of Facebook’s excellent outreach services will have to work harder on their content to make it more relevant to their audience and, of course, pay to promote it to the appropriate people. For those who have already been paying to build and reach their audience, the prospect of limited reach and rising costs could be a deal-breaker.
There are a lot of pros to consider too, though. The algorithm is still early days, and Facebook had to do something to improve its platform after a 2017 that saw it hit with a slew of terrible PR, top of which centered around its possible role in the spread of ‘fake news’ and becoming an online echo chamber.
From personal experience, it can be exhausting logging onto Facebook only to be greeted by a wave of awful infomercial-style content. If Facebook does indeed clean up its act then it’ll be redefining its platform to increase the prospect of people spending more time on it in ways where ‘quality experience’ is key.
As we’ve written before, brands have had to effectively pay to reach out for audiences’ attention anyway over the months and years, such has been the evolution of the platform. Paying a little bit more to reach out to more dedicated potential customers who are more valuable to Facebook could also improve the overall quality of your leads if you provide them with more high-quality content.
Don’t neglect other social networks
All of which goes to show why it can be so important for small businesses to work alongside a marketing agency that specialises in social media management to take the weight from your shoulders and navigate confusing changes to algorithms, the industry as a whole and much more besides.
We’ve mentioned so much in the past that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket when marketing, especially when it comes to social media. It pays so much to learn as much about your customers as possible, where and how they spend their time online and approach them on channels most relevant to them.
Putting all of your paid social budget into Facebook is not always a good idea, no matter how great its service may be. Also consider that since Facebook has announced these changes that:
- Twitter shares boomed. A lot of investors, now that Facebook is altering its algorithm, think that Twitter will be the best place to share news and similar content. Twitter is also a great place to share targeted ad content as part of a paid social strategy; it’ll be interesting to see how they react to Facebook’s changes.
- Facebook still owns Instagram. Though Facebook may be changing its algorithm, there’s been no suggestion of the same thing happening to the photo-sharing social network. If anything they continue to diversify by adding new features to keep it ahead of Snapchat. You can still use Facebook’s brilliant ad targeting software to reach people on Instagram.
- As a whole the changes could help partner brands with more meaningful influencers who already have high engagement rates with users on Facebook and Instagram. The changes will help to push out content from influencers who may only be in it for their own reasons. Those that stick around will know what they’re doing and how to reach out to their audience for more profitable professional relationships.
Social media marketing is far more effective with a targeted paid search strategy. Contact a Web Presence representative today to find out more.
Working as a Digital Marketing Consultant since 2004, Lee helps SMEs win more business through developing effective digital marketing strategies. He is a dedicated Liverpool FC fan, dog lover and loves long country walks (and a cheeky pint) with his dog, Banjo.