Friday, July 22nd, 2016 | 6 min read
Facebook recently announced a significant change to its News Feed algorithm. If you’ve been keeping up the with the network, you know that while this is not a fundamental shift for the company – they started making these changes last April – it is an important and strategic move to keep its 1.65 billion users engaged.
The latest update will make stories from friends and family way more visible compared to ones from brands and publishers. It’ll further challenge companies to create relevant content. Understandably, the algorithm change is concerning for the industry. And naysayers are once again bemoaning the “death of organic.”
But the outlook is not all that gloomy. And for forward-thinking brands, there’s an opportunity here worth seizing, once you understand what the latest Facebook algorithm change truly means and how it impacts your brand.
Facebook’s goal is to make shares more important. Of course, shares have always been very valuable to brands, but the gap in value between shares and other engagements is growing. This is caused by algorithm changes, yes, but also because sharing has declined across the platform.
Facebook’s other vital statistics – user numbers, time spent in the News Feed, referral traffic – are in good health, but the rise of messaging apps means that most sharing now happens in private on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat.
Facebook wants to fight this decline, and it can do so by incentivizing brands to produce shareable content. Users have told Facebook that they like to see things directly shared by their closest friends, so with the long-term health of the platform in mind, the company is giving them what they want.
For pages with more than a million fans, reach can be as low as 2%. Two percent of 50 million, however, is still an audience of a million users. Tell Red Bull, McDonald’s, or Disney that organic reach is dead and they’ll show you organic posts that are wildly successful by nearly any measure.
If your organic posts drive lots of shares, you will probably see little difference after these changes – you may even see an improvement in performance, especially for your most shareable content. If your content generates likes and comments, but doesn’t inspire shares, you may see a significant change in performance.
The bottom line is that if your brand still has substantial organic reach on Facebook, these changes are important to you. (Obviously, if your organic reach has already faltered and doesn’t provide a significant source of traffic or income, you have nothing to lose.)
If your content is heavily shared, you should be in a good position, but if you have thousands of likes and comments and relatively low share numbers, you should be concerned as pages in this category are the most likely to suffer a drop in organic reach.
If you are in this risky category, your choices are to either focus on shareable, engaging content, or increase your investment in Facebook advertising so that you can continue to distribute less shareable product-based content at scale.
Either way, it would be wise to review your strategy and ensure that your content is in line with what Facebook considers valuable for its audience. This is the first time the company has revealed its thoughts on what makes good content, and it would be a mistake to ignore it.
Relying on organic reach isn’t the most, well, reliable strategy. Important messages may not be spread as widely as you would hope, and even your most successful content won’t reach its full potential. Brands can make significant gains by using a social media management platform to automatically promote their best performing content. By leveraging powerful audience tools, brands can ensure their message is being delivered to the right people: the users most inclined to take action. In the long run, the most important and results-driven strategy a brand can have on Facebook is paid media.
This strategy is easy in theory, but how does a global brand with hundreds of Facebook pages with different audiences manage the process of selecting which posts to promote? This is what enterprise social media management platforms were built for. Big brands need a fully automatable system to manage social media activity on such a large scale.
If you choose the right platform, you’ll be able to set rules that automatically promote your best performing content and you’ll get the support and expertise of paid media specialists who can help you calibrate and optimize these rules. Your best posts can be automatically promoted based on your KPIs, ensuring you only invest in the content that has a proven return on investment. No headaches, no wasted budget.
If you are worried about these algorithm changes, it means you have something to lose. If you have something to lose, be it awareness, traffic, or sales revenue, it means Facebook is providing value to your company. It’s time to work out a paid strategy where you can optimize and scale this value and ultimately provide a better return for your business.