For those of you have haven’t heard the news yet, Facebook is going to be changing its news feed. Not so much the way it looks, but more how it is populated. From a social perspective, the changes are certainly positive ones (which is handy given that it is ‘social’ media). However, for businesses, the resulting consequences of the Facebook news feed update aren’t so pretty. In fact, without meaning to sound like a truly miserable pessimist; there are no positives. BUT… There are ways that you can ensure your business page still performs well.
Before we go into how you can be proactive in preventing these changes from having too much of a negative impact on your business page, you need to know what is changing.
How is Facebook Changing their News Feed?
Essentially, Facebook is making a major change to the algorithm it uses to determine what order posts are displayed on your news feed. Here’s what’s changing:
Facebook Killed the Video Star
Since a news feed update, Facebook made back in 2012, videos have become more and more prominent in our feeds. To the point where it is now almost impossible to have more than 5 posts in a row without a cute or funny video of a furry mammal making an appearance. Whilst Denver the Guilty Dog remains one of my personal all-time favourite videos and if it wasn’t for Facebook, I may never have encountered it; the sheer volume of videos one after another can get a bit overwhelming and quite frankly, annoying sometimes. Facebook has now acknowledged this. Research conducted by themselves and leading universities found that passively reading articles/watching videos can have a negative impact on a person’s mood.
So, with this in mind, Facebook has vowed to tone down the amount of video shown in news feeds. In a *post on Facebook newsroom Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook stated:
“There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem… But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”
Family and Friends Come First
If you also dabble a bit in the realm of SEO then you will more than likely be familiar with PageRank. Well, Facebook’s news feed works much the same; every post has a rank. Posts will rank differently for each user depending on what their interests are and who they interact with the most. It’s those ranking factors that are changing, significantly. Here’s the part where businesses are going to take a beating.
As Facebook makes updates to its ranking factors over the coming months, posts from family and close friends will be appearing higher in your timeline. This is all in an attempt to encourage more “meaningful interactions between people“, as Mark Zuckerberg said himself in his post on Facebook. Basically, we are being encouraged to have more conversations with each other… God forbid!
Whereas, much fewer posts from public (business) pages will be displayed in the news feeds, and those that are may take a significant amount of thumb flicks to be discovered! The sad thing is for businesses, there is nothing that anyone can do to stop their ranking in the news feed from diminishing. However, if you are a page manager, there are steps that you can take to soften the ranking blow. There’s just one more news feed change we need to address first, which will tie in nicely to the first thing you can change as a page manager.
Just a ‘Lol’ and a ‘Like’ is Not Enough…
Conversation – It is all about conversations. That is basically the moral of the ‘Facebook News Feed Update’ story. Which is why posts with longer comments on them will now perform better in the rankings as well. Longer comments will soon be more valuable than just post interactions like ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.
All of these changes are being introduced in an attempt to spark more engagement and interaction between family and actual friends. I say ‘actual friends’, because we all know how loosely the term ‘friends’ is used on Facebook. Given that it is a social media platform and not a business networking site, the changes do make sense. But now, it’s important that you know what you can do as a Facebook page manager to adapt to these changes.
Oh, and just in case you were curious at all, here is Denver from the video I mentioned earlier. He couldn’t look more guilty!! Skip past the video to get straight to your tips.
Facebook News Feed Update – What Actions Should I Take?
The actions that you need to take will vary based on what type of content you are putting out on your business page. But the following points should be relevant to pretty much all public pages out there. We will start with the most topical point – Conversation.
With Quality Content Comes Conversation
As we know, posts that spark conversation will now rank higher. That goes for public posts as well as private. So, if posts on your business page often lead to discussions or debates, then you shouldn’t be affected as seriously as others might. However, if your posts don’t generally intice discussion, then something’s got to change. If you have read our 8 Top Tips for Social Media Marketing Beginners, then you will already know the importance of quality and relevance, when it comes to content creation. But in the context of encouraging conversation, here’s something to think about:
If you use your page to share blogs from your website, then think about how your blogs are written. Are they encouraging the reader to form their own opinions on matters? Or, are they informative blogs that educate the reader? Bearing that in mind, try and create content that is thought-provoking for your Facebook followers. You can’t force discussion, it will only come naturally from creating content that your audience can relate to and confidently comment on.
One of Facebook’s more younger features, Facebook Live is renown for its impressive engagement rates. In the *article from Mr Mosseri, I referred to earlier in this post, he even mentions that:
“Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
If this feature isn’t something that your business is exploiting already, then there has never been a better time to get started. Why? Well, in case that engagement statistic isn’t enough, it is also a surefire way to appear at the top of the news feed. Whenever anyone goes live on Facebook, all of their friends/followers receive a notification and the stream appears at the top (or not far from it) of their feed. Then the only thing you have to worry about is keeping them interested once they’re on board!
“See First” – It Does What it Says on the Tin
If you are following a company page, you can select an option on their page to see content from this page at the top of your news feed. This is an option that most of you may not even have known existed. An option that will help you to forget that the 2018 Facebook news feed update ever happened. However, this does require your followers to go out of their way and follow a couple of steps.
Don’t get me wrong, it takes no more than 10 seconds to do. But it isn’t directly in your hands is the point.
Here’s how you can activate the ‘See first’ feature on a Facebook page:
- On Facebook, go to the page you want to “see first”;
- Click on/Hover over “Following” near the top of the page;
- Click “See First”
If you wanted to maximise your chances of people choosing to prioritise your page’s content like this, then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do this. For example, you could create a short snappy 15-second video demonstrating how to “see first” your page. Include that video in a blog post on your site and include a link to your Facebook page beneath it. You could even follow that up with a mailshot to your mailing list specifically for that video and link to your page there as well.
What You Must NOT Do
With these changes that are being introduced, you may be tempted to lure people to interact more with your posts – don’t! We have all seen the “Like this post to… Share this post to be entered into…” or even “Tag someone in this post who…”. To put it simply, all of this is bad.
Facebook has branded these type of posts as ‘Engagement-bait’. They have already made updates to their algorithm over the past month to demote posts that are deemed to be using engagement-bait tactics. So, if you try and goad people into interacting with your posts like this, expect to see traffic to your facebook page plummet.