When Facebook first launched (way back in February 2004), its primary ‘goal’ was to give individuals a platform to allow them to communicate and connect with family, friends and classmates.

Fast forward 14 years, and Facebook has become the Silicon Valley success story, and the most powerful social media platform in the world. 

Facebook’s business model relies heavily on ads, as over 98% of the of social network’s revenue comes from advertising.

In 2017, this ad revenue stood at more than $39.9 billion - a new record for the company.

On January 12th this year, Mark Zuckerberg shook up the social media world when he announced that Facebook will change its algorithm to promote more “meaningful interactions” with personal content rather than “relevant contentment” from publishers, brands and news outlets.

As usual, with any algorithm changes, there have been no timescales announced and no specific or detailed information on how the changes will impact Facebook on a practical day-to-day level. Facebook doesn’t seem to want to give too much away, as this can them lead to people potentially exploiting the changes. 

Facebook wants to change the way that its users consume news and engage with their friends on the site, and like it or not, that’s going to affect the way businesses use Facebook for marketing.

If you’re working for a business that’s affected by this, what can you, as a digital marketer do to adapt to the impending algorithm changes?

1. Look To Trending Topics For Inspiration

Facebook’s new algorithm will be designed so that relevant, time-sensitive updates generating high engagement between friends will appear higher up in your newsfeed.

For example, if a user’s Facebook friends are all posting about the recent BAFTA’s during the live broadcast, then their updates will likely appear high in the newsfeed so that the user sees them while the BAFTA’s awards are still on. Updates are also tailored to a Facebook user’s interests; for example, someone who posts a lot about new start-ups, or has ‘liked’ a lot of start-up Groups or Pages is likely to see plenty of start-up related updates in their newsfeed. This all comes down businesses sharing current news that is timely and relevant to their industry / customers.

Tools like Buzzsumo are great for finding news stories to share. Simply search for a keyword using the platform to view Facebook posts which have recently received high engagement levels.

2. Post More Frequently

Facebook has previously said:

“If a Page posts about a trending topic or if a post sees a high velocity of engagement early on that then drops off, that post may begin to see increased distribution and less distribution over time. Pages should keep producing great content that is relevant and resonates with their audience.”

My understanding of this suggests that even if you produce an amazing piece of content which initially gets you lots of shares, you can’t rely on it forever, as it actually has an expiration date. So make sure your team are regularly generating ideas for fresh content to post on your Facebook page.

3. Focus on Engaging Content

So frequency is one way to get your Facebook content strategy to remain viable. But it’s also time to get serious about creating truly engaging Facebook content. The quality of your social media content is now more important than the quantity. If necessary, scale back to one post per day, but focus on integrating the following aspects into your Facebook posts/ads:

  • Keep content concise and easy to scan
  • Match topics to your target audience’s interests
  • Utilise video wherever possible and don’t forget to have subtitles as video will auto-play muted in newsfeeds
  • Try to tell a compelling story
  • Use real people to provide emotional depth in your stories

4. “And We Are Live!”

Video content is growing in popularity - both on Facebook and across the web. However, Facebook now classifies traditional video as ‘passive content’. Remember to take advantage of Facebook’s reach and “Live” feature to produce instant video content. Live videos generate six times the engagement of regular video content, and are watched an impressive three times longer than standard videos (According to Facebook).

5.   Host Your Competitions away from Facebook

Facebook now has a problem with content it deems to be “engagement bait”. We’ve all seen these posts that explicitly request a like, share, or comment in return for a competition entry. Competitions are very common on Facebook because they help to boost brand awareness, but the Facebook algorithm change will diminish the reach of this type of content the reach.

I’d recommend hosting your competitions on your own website then have contestants share on Facebook for entries. This gets your brand’s content out to their network without your business posting the information first.

6. Avoid Click-Bait

Even if you’re not familiar with the term 'click-bait', you will have seen it on your own Facebook newsfeed at some time or another. These are the posts that share links with enticing headlines such as “You Won’t Believe____” and “Wait Till You See What ____ Looks Like Now”.

These play on a readers’ curiosity to get them to click, but usually don’t contain any genuinely valuable content on the destination page.

As with their stance on competitions, Facebook is also cracking down on click-bait by analysing the bounce rate of posts with links. They are then able to see how quickly users are leaving the page. Where your posts are achieving a high bounce rate, Facebook will automatically rank them lower in the newsfeed algorithm.

7. Encourage 'See First'

Adapting your Facebook content and adverts going forward is key to retaining a successful social media content strategy, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure you retain those followers you’ve worked so hard to pull into your social funnel.

Encourage current followers to switch their Following settings from Default to “See first” on your brand’s page. This little-known feature gets around the new algorithm and shows followers posts from your page first in their newsfeeds.

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8.  Post more links to relevant third party content - and always Include a Preview image

Facebook wants to eventually become ‘the’ place users go for ALL their news content. So naturally their updated algorithm is going to lend extra weight to posts linking to high-quality content on other reputable publishers/sites.

So, make sure that you periodically include links to industry-relevant articles that you think your Facebook fans will be interested in.

And when you post a link - for example, to your latest blog post - ensure that you include an image preview, as posts with visual previews tend to get more clicks. In most cases, Facebook will auto-load the main image from the destination URL.

9. Be ‘Mute Friendly’

According to Digiday, 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound, so businesses should always consider producing video content that is engaging and understood - even when played on silent.

Facebook reported that adding captions to videos increases the watch time by an average of 12%, so investing in getting this right is well worth the time.