In early January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg made an a major announcement about Facebook’s direction, aspects of which will have an impact on businesses that use Facebook to build relationships with customers. Here’s what you need to know.
When Facebook started, it quickly gained popularity on the Harvard campus because it fulfilled a basic human need using the technology of the day.
That need is staying connected and close to the people we care most about. The technology is the internet, computers and mobile phones.
Facebook is an unmatched success story. People swarmed to the platform, making it one of the main communication hubs of the internet, worldwide.
But alas, when something becomes this popular for personal communication, marketing and advertising are soon to follow. If people are there, businesses who want to sell to them start to pop-up like mushrooms.
This is now a problem. Facebook realized that content from businesses, brands, and media were crowding out the personal content people got on Facebook to see in the first place.
So Facebook is making some big changes in how content gets on your news feed. Here’s what Mark had to say in his recent announcement:
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.
He goes on to explain how Facebook will re-focus the algorithm so that your feed will prioritize content from friends, family, and groups.
Marketers have overstayed their welcome, apparently. There was a party among friends, and a sales guy showed up and started interrupting the conversation with his pitch.
So he’s been asked to pay for the opportunity to show his stuff, with the caveat that he target his posts so only people who are interested see them.
Mark’s statement is brimming with altruism, and he seems sincere in wanting Facebook to be a service that helps people lead happy lives. He even notes that time engagement on Facebook is likely to go down because of these changes. But it will be time better spent.
This is how, in basic terms, they describe the change:
With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.
Overall, this means business content is going to take a hit. Even if people follow your page, your content won’t rank in their feeds unless it’s something that stimulates reactions. (Here are some tips on creating engaging Facebook content).
And in that lies the key. If you want your organic business content to get any exposure on Facebook, you have to create posts that people are likely to react to or – best of all – comment on.
Facebook also suggest that live videos will do better because they tend to get more comments. Joining or creating Facebook groups may also lead to more organic reach.
If your business page followers are really keen on seeing your updates, have them follow your page and select “see first”:
However, there is a comeuppance occurring here. I enjoy much of Red Bull’s content, but not to the point that they push cousin Lisa out of my news feed. I never see my cousin, but feel I know a lot about her life because of Facebook. That matters.
But so does cold hard cash. All of Mark’s altruism aside, there is another consideration here. If you want to promote a business on Facebook, they want you using their paid advertising platform. They don’t make money off organic postings, but they make a fortune off paid ads.
As a business, look at two things.
First, consider whether or not your business even has the chance to create relevant content that’s also likely to get reactions by the general public on Facebook. You’ll have to be more clever, creative, funny, and maybe just plain weird to get anyone’s attention. It’s no easy task, and for many businesses it may be a futile effort. Others may benefit from professional social media management help to create suitable content.
However, the real thing to look at on Facebook is targeted advertising. Use custom lists to show posts to people on your email list, current customers, or lookalike audiences. Target demographics, life events and interests with precision.
With targeted ads, you don’t have to turn your ad into a social post that’s goal is to get reactions instead of conversions. Given these changes and the goals of most businesses, the advertising platform is looking better than ever.
Some businesses have an offering that fits into the conversation at the Facebook party. They can still thrive with organic exposure. But for many, 2018 looks like the year to get on top of targeted advertising with a business focus.