Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told us that a major overhaul to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is on its way. Essentially, the change means users will see far less content from publishers in a News Feed that focuses on posts from friends, pages and communities people have connected with.
This, of course, is bad news for publishers and something advertisers will need to consider as they gear up for another year of advertising on the world’s most popular social network. So let’s take a closer look at everything we know about the upcoming News Feed change and what to expect.
Facebook steps away from editorial content
While publishers will be disappointed to hear about the upcoming News Feed changes, this isn’t the most surprising announcement after the last couple of years Facebook has had. The network has been widely criticised over the “fake news” scandal that marred the US 2016 presidential election and recently faced fresh attacks over the psychological impact the network has upon its users.
Facebook appears to be attempting to address both of these issues in the upcoming changes to the News Feed.
“…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,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post last week.
“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.”
The Facebook CEO said the update will roll out over the coming months, telling users they’ll see less “public content” like posts from businesses, brands and media. Instead, they’ll get more content from the people and groups they engage with as the update rolls out.
What does this mean for advertisers?
The good news for advertisers is that none of these changes will have a direct impact on Facebook Ads. However, there might be some indirect effect when it comes to engagement with the organic content that accompanies your advertising campaigns. That said, there could also be unforeseen positive impacts on ad performance – for example, higher engagement with brands as the News Feed becomes less saturated with organic branded content.
As with any algorithm change, there will be winners and losers; some drastic, but the majority easy enough to deal with.
What does this mean for pages and public content?
Facebook isn’t giving too much away at this stage and the full impact upon brand pages and public content won’t be known until long after the update has rolled out. However, the network has confirmed that reach and engagement is likely to decrease.
“As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. 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.” – Facebook
The key piece of info there is that some pages and posts will be affected more than others. More specifically, those that fail to generate enough engagement already stand to lose out the most.
“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.” – Facebook
Facebook insists that page content will continue to show in the News Feed, but to a lesser extent after the update. Pages and posts that aren’t getting much interaction stand to suffer the most which puts even more emphasis on creating quality, engaging content.
This is easier said than done, of course.
Is it time to panic?
Not at all. We’ve seen plenty of updates like this and managed to deal with each one of them. Don’t pay attention to any of the dramatic headlines that are covering this story and focus on creating the best content you possibly can, if you’re worried the update might hurt your organic performance.
Once the update is fully rolled out and we have the necessary data, it might be time to reassess the paid vs organic balance – or at least rethink the kind of content you’re publishing on the network.
Facebook isn’t about to pull the rug from under the feet of brands that pay its advertising income, so there’s no need to panic. The network can’t afford to make drastic changes to its algorithm at any one time but it does need to be seen to be taking action on the recent criticism mounting up against it.
The only thing we know for sure at this stage is that Facebook merely announcing the upcoming algorithm change has gotten precisely the kind of press response Zuckerberg would have been looking for.