Facebook Algorithm Apocalypse

March 29th, 2018

“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” – Mark Zuckerberg, 01/11/2018

They’re calling it the Facebook Apocalypse. Though the world hasn’t ended since Facebook’s big announcement, brands are seeing changes in how often their content is shown to followers.

On January 11, Facebook Vice President Adam Mosseri announced that Facebook’s algorithm would change to favor meaningful social interactions that spur comments and discussion over everything else. Pages could see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease if they don’t adjust to support the new algorithm.

This is the largest Facebook algorithm change to date and it has turned the social media world upside down – somewhat. While some are ready to jump off a cliff, smart marketers are building their Alexandria (for you Walking Dead fans) and changing their strategy to protect their reach, impressions and engagement rates. Facebookalypse is here to stay.

The change is attributed to the growing frequency of “fake news” and unhappiness resulting from Facebook scrolling versus participation in post discussion. However, this will likely benefit businesses who offer engaging, meaningful content to their fans long-term by eliminating spam and bait posts. So our Newsfeeds should be right-side up again here soon.

“… the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people. … 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,” said Zuckerberg.

This isn’t an opportunity but a mandate to dive deep and master relational, humanizing content that spurs discussion through live video, appealing graphics, engaging copy, strategic campaigns and authenticity.

But what constitutes “meaningful content”? How can a computer detect intimacy and emotional connection? The reality is that it can’t 100 percent, but it can find patterns and follow a specific set of criteria that humans tell it to help identify meaning.

For example, if you “like” a post from your favorite local ice cream shop, that’s fantastic. But if you really like a post, and you want to continue seeing that post and want everyone else to see that post, you need to comment. And the longer the comment, the bigger the flag to Facebook that the post you engaged with spurred a meaningful interaction.  So Facebook wants you to talk about why the chocolate coffee toffee nut ice cream laced with Bailey’s is the best thing ever.

Researching your audience to clearly understand who they are and what they want is paramount. “Brands need to take quick action with their Facebook content strategies to dig in to the data on ‘who’ their fans are and what makes them tick so that brand content is synonymous with relevant content.” (Adweek) Monthly and quarterly reporting can identify patterns and successes, allowing you to unearth what is and isn’t working with your audience.

While paid promotions are still a favorite of the network, many social authorities predict that ad rates may increase. Despite this, implementing a year-round advertising program should be top priority for Pages wanting to grow and engage their audience.

“What’s bad for businesses is good for influencers,” said Thomas Drew, as quoted in Forbes. Many brands will start or continue to invest in influencer marketing to bypass the algorithm’s intense scrutiny. Micro- and macro-influencers can seamlessly blend product into their brand, and because they care about authentically resonating with their audience, they can easily circumvent much of the product advertising concerns expected as a result of the new algorithm. Facebook has often encouraged a paid influencer strategy, which gets the network the revenue they want while cleaning up the Newsfeed. We don’t see influencer marketing going away any time soon.

And what’s a quick fix to spread the message far and wide as quickly as possible? Request your followers select the See First option. This dictates user preference, ensuring that all of your Page posts appear in the user’s Newsfeed. Share this message in posts on your Facebook or find other creative ways to get this message out to your audience. “The options under the News Feed tab on Facebook will allow users to prioritize the Pages (and friends) whose posts they are most interested in.” (New York Times)

Other tactical avenues include using messenger bots to stimulate conversation on the Page and incorporating Facebook Live, which Facebook has clearly stated will be favored more than published video.

No matter what you do, it’s important to do something. This change is likely one that cannot be ignored. Adapting is survival.