Two simple and important takeaways from Facebook’s recent algorithm change, for brands.
If you’re reading this, then the chances are you’ve heard about the recent change Facebook announced that they’re making to their algorithm, and are maybe interested to find out a little bit more. But just in case you missed it. Let us quickly set the scene. Facebook said that they would be prioritising content from friends and family – posts that create conversation – over content from brands and publishers.
You can read their full statement, here.
But hang on here with us for now. As we’re going to tell you what we think the two key things to take from their announcement are – quickly and simply, mind (You’ll find plenty of other articles that have taken a deeper dive). And why we think it’s actually a pretty good move on their part.
Ok. We’ll get straight to the biggest thing we took from their announcement. That being, that brands need to create better, more valuable content – content that aims to actually help people with their lives.
1. Fewer, better pieces of content
All of that click-bait content, competitions, ‘the best 10…’ lists, and the like – are pieces of content that just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Facebook will avoid showing these to their users.
This is something we believe will do away with ‘content for contents sake’. You’ve probably experienced this yourself, perhaps even been guilty of it. You know, when you just get content out there to basically update your page, and show as a brand you’re still alive in the social world – that’s content for contents sake.
This content offers the user little, if any, in the way of value, and equally there’s no real business objective behind it. Oh yeah, other than to show as a brand, you’re still alive. Instead, now users just wont see this content (even less then they do now). So that objective isn’t valid.
Brands therefore need to focus on creating fewer, but much better pieces of content. Content that users want to share, and importantly want to share with their own words attached to it – their thoughts, views, and feelings. Words that when accompanied with the content, will evoke feelings in others, compelling them to also share the content. Again with their words attached to it.
This is the behaviour Facebook wants to see again on its platform. It wants to take things back to the good old days. And become again, what it really is – a social network. One that is full of interesting, valuable conversations among friends and family.
And of course, there will be a place for brands in these conversations (well, that’s if Facebook decides there is. But with brands acting as cultural identifiers and often responsible for social change, it’s hard to imagine they wont be allowed in). But brands will have to create content that starts, or helps fuel conversations – content that encourages meaningful interactions between people.
That leads us nicely onto the next point. That being if your content isn’t solely focussed on providing users with value, and focussed on getting people to interact and talk, meaningfully – then the only other thing it must be doing is trying to provide you with a business result. But to do that, you’re going to have to pay…
2. Business results advertising.
To be fair, Facebook recognise that brands are going to want to use their platform to achieve business objectives. And after all, Facebook still needs to earn advertising dollars.
So it’s simple, brands should no longer expect to achieve any meaningful success in achieving direct business objectives through organic content. Brands instead, will have to pay to play. And they’ll likely do so, by being clear with Facebook with exactly what they are trying to achieve (‘business results advertising’). This level of transparency will then help Facebook to optimise a brands content inline with the objective of it. Something as you know, it already does do pretty well.
There’s also a fair bit of chatter, that Facebook may even introduce another ‘stream’. A sort of explore area, one in which all the branded content will appear – completely separate from the friends and family content and conversations. Something to keep an eye on.
To us, this change makes perfect sense. And Facebook should be applauded for making it. Well, perhaps that’s a little heavy. It’s a good thing is what we’re trying to say.
Just how quickly the changes come into effect, and what their full impact will be, remains to be seen. And how Facebook will further evolve, in light of their need to become ‘more social’ again, is something we’ll certainly be watching with interest.
But what’s clear, is that brands need to revaluate their social strategies, with very much a ‘fewer, but better’ content approach required. And content with the goal of providing value to the user, in a meaningful conversation kind of way. That’s the only way to play to achieve any sort of organic reach. Otherwise, you’re going to have to pay to play. And so paid could become the priority for brands, but like we said, linked to business results. And with the ad real estate in the feed becoming even more squeezed, it’ll likely become an even more competitive space, and so more expensive for brands to get themselves in there.
Brands therefore would do well to understand all the different areas of Facebook’s ecosystem. As there are other opportunities to explore for brands away from ‘in-stream’.
Time to re-think Facebook strategies over the coming months. The times they are a-changin’.
Until next time…