Business

Facebook feed changes, and what businesses can do next

(REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Facebook recently announced sweeping changes to its News Feed that will affect the reach of businesses, brands and media. The new initiative will show more posts, videos and photos from friends and family and fewer from brands and publishers.

“Today, we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in the News Feed,” said Adam Mosseri, vice president in charge of News Feed at Facebook. “With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

Mosseri said Facebook will predict which posts people might want to interact with their friends about, and show those posts higher in the feed. Generally, these will be posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that people 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.

“We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content,” Mosseri said.

Impact on Businesses

So what does that mean for businesses? Mostly, that there will be less space in the News Feed for generic public content. Pages that post dull, boring content that’s primarily self-promotional and doesn’t elicit a reaction or comment will see the biggest drop in distribution.

But pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.

That means your Facebook business strategy is no longer a matter of collecting “fans” and running “like” campaigns. Businesses, brands and media need to refocus on posting content that encourages person-to-person discussion and building audience organically.

Handling the Change

Here are a few tips on handling the News Feed algorithm change:

l Avoid generic, overly promotional content that people don’t interact with. Look at your metrics. What content had engagement? What didn’t?

l Use more live videos. Livestream videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.

l Avoid “engagement baiting” or posting low-quality content that only encourages commenting, tagging or sharing but offers little real conversation value.

l Regular videos still have value. Post interesting videos that elicit comments and conversations.

l Understand your audience and tailor your content. Review your Facebook Insights to understand the makeup of your audience — geography, demographics, interests, time of day they interact, etc.

l Challenge yourself to think creatively about your content. Does it ask meaningful questions to prompt conversation? Instead of asking “do you like kittens?” Ask: “How does your cat tell you it’s hungry?” The days of creating a funny meme that gets a bunch of likes are over.

l Share customer stories. Celebrate their life events and milestones, which in turn pushes the content to their news feeds where friends and family can comment and interact.

News Will be Ranked, Too

As part of the same News Feed initiative, Facebook has announced a second major update this week. A new survey will begin to ask users about their familiarity with various news sources and whether or not they trust the source.

The results will then show — or not show — posts in user News Feeds based on that evaluation.

“This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.”

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We all have our own ideas about which news sources we trust, so this crowdsourced credibility is a little troubling.

But let’s keep an eye on our News Feeds to see how these two major changes evolve.

l Tracy Pratt is a product manager and marketing strategist at Fusionfarm, a division of Folience, The Gazette’s parent company; (319) 398-8343; tracy@fusionfarm.com.

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