13 February 2018 How changes to the Facebook algorithm will affect businesses

Once again, Mark Zuckerberg shook up the world when he announced that Facebook would be changing its algorithm to promote more personal content rather than news.

By altering the algorithm that runs the news feed, no longer will it prioritise "helping you find relevant content", says the site's founder, Zuckerberg. The new goal is to help you "have more meaningful interactions".

What will change?

Under the new regime, Facebook says users will see more content from friends and family, and less from brands and publishers. The new algorithm will also favour content that draws a lot of comments over posts that are popular, but don't produce comments.

Facebooks' plan is to emphasise more "meaningful" interactions on the platform. Posts are considered meaningful when they generate engagement, ie. comments, likes, and shares. This is because Facebook's researchers have found that when people are actively commenting on posts, they tend to feel better about using social networks.

The change may sound relatively small, but it's likely to have significant consequences for the broad subset of Facebook users that aren't individual people: media companies, small businesses, big brands and everyone else who has come to see Facebook's News Feed as an essential way to reach audiences and customers. 

In a post, Zuckerberg said the pages managed by those businesses are likely to reach far fewer people in 2018. 

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," he wrote. "And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

He also added: "Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too."

So, what's next?  

Even less organic media content…

Expect more paid advertisements, less organic posts from brands, and more Influencer Marketing partnerships with Mega, Micro, and Nano Influencers.

Thoughtful content:

A premium piece of content served to the right audience at the right time with a comparatively small investment of cash behind it is going to be key.

Facebook still needs revenue and they want brands to be the source of it, however without eyeballs they won't get it. Cue the shift back to a more family and friends driven newsfeed.

Therefore, shifting your content from promotional product posts to emotional, audience-focused is going to be your best bet for creating engaging cut-through content.

Influencers Stock Just Got a Big Boost:

Influencers are going to become more and more crucial for brands wanting to market their products on the platform.

Connecting with Influencers who have a growing audience that they truly understand will be vital for most marketers. It will continue to be the most effective way to influence consumer behaviour via social media and beyond.

Businesses Must Adjust to a New Marketing Ecosystem:

Companies that rely on Facebook and Instagram to build businesses are definitely at a loss with the changes, but there is still hope. For most businesses, it will be as simple as understanding what the ambition of your brand or product is and aligning that with the target consumer that has a similar ambition.

The good thing about social media is that with the right data and proper social listening, you can unearth your target audience and figure out which Influencer speaks to them. 

The best way to utilise Facebook is to understand your objective, learn about the factors that influence your target audience, activate an Influencer that blends your brand or product narrative seamlessly within their own, and most importantly create engaging and emotional content.