Facebook’s big News Feed algorithm update rolls out this week, forcing many businesses to re-think their marketing strategies. While some marketers may panic, rising to the challenge offers advantages to those who nurture audiences on the social network.
In response to user complaints, Facebook is changing the algorithm for its News Feed—the sprawling list of updates seen by 1.37 billion users each day. Posts by friends and family are prioritized above those by brands, and further prioritized by the number of interactions. According to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the change is intended to foster more meaningful interactions between its users.
Marketers are all too familiar with Facebook algorithm changes that have whittled away at brands’ organic reach over the years. One solution has been to purchase more Facebook ads to stand out from the crowd, but Zuckerberg warned that users may spend less time scrolling the News Feed altogether. Competing for smaller groups of eyeballs may drive up the price of advertising, industry insiders told The Wall Street Journal.
The good news is Facebook’s new algorithm will favor marketers who build meaningful relationships with their audience. Historically, driving conversations have better long-term effects than bombarding users with sales pitches. Brands that only promote their products will suffer from this update the most, as will those who rely on third-parties or bots to interact with posts.
Perhaps in an effort to help, Facebook announced efforts to help businesses use the platform right after releasing news of its algorithm change: “Look for investment in rich messaging experiences not only from global brands, but small businesses who need to be creative and nimble to stay competitive,” Facebook head of Messenger David Marcus said in a blog post.
What will actually be effective for brands? Watch—Facebook’s new video platform—and Messenger may be alternative outlets for them to reach audiences. But mass posting and attempting to trick the algorithm through engagement bait will come up short on results. Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm last month to demote posts soliciting engagements and penalize brands that produce them.
Ultimately, building a funnel through engaging content may be the key to reaching Facebook’s users. “I think we’re going to see a move toward how businesses can get their arms around audiences and the creation of owned media experiences,” Robert Rose, chief content advisor for Content Marketing Institute, said in a recent AListDaily interview. “Whether they be blogs or television networks or shows or publishing magazines, [businesses need] to be able to reach those audiences that they’re struggling to reach through traditional advertising.”