Changes to Facebook’s famous news feed are set to push content from businesses to the bottom of the pile
Mark Zuckerberg is on the warpath.
Still red-faced from his company’s role in the global proliferation of fake news, he has announced a content crackdown – and businesses are in the firing line.
“Posts from businesses, brands and media”, he says, are “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” He goes on: “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
Under the new regime, content is out and interactions are in.
The precise details of Zuckerberg’s plans to implement his bold new vision are shrouded in mystery.
The process of altering Facebook’s algorithms to favour personal interactions started a year ago (or so he claims). But beyond his stated overarching principle that public content “should encourage meaningful interaction between people” what he wants to do and how he plans on doing it remains unclear.
So how should businesses react to all this? Especially those in the world of B2B who are therefore already operating in smaller communities?
1. Do nothing
This isn’t the first time Facebook has promised sweeping changes, and Zuckerberg’s most recent declaration has a familiar whiff about it. Facebook began predicting and prioritising posts judged to be particularly “informative” at the end of 2016, and started weighting content creators based on post frequency and types of reactions last year.
While significant, it’s hard to argue this has made a big change for how businesses operate on Facebook – especially when organic traffic makes up such a small proportion of their total on the platform anyway.
2. Diversify social media offering
Facebook, always poised awkwardly between the B2B and B2C camps, now looks to have leapt once and for all into the latter.
Refocusing on more obviously fruitful platforms such as LinkedIn (and indeed less obviously fruitful ones like Instagram) or considering the merits of paying for traffic in some form as organic’s stock continues to fall are both looking increasingly tempting. Other big players on social media are already making overtures to publishers to lure them away from Facebook.
3. Learn the tricks of the trade
Although details remain sketchy, Facebook has indicated the news feed changes won’t be all bad news for those in the know.
Pay close attention and you may well end up with some killer insight. For example, in the statement announcing the changes he said: “we’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.” Does that mean Facebook’s live content creators may get a newsfeed boost?
4. Aspire to top-quality content
The best thing content marketers can do is continue producing top-of-the-range content to engage and inspire audiences.
After all, this more than anything will be crucial in creating the hub of interactivity to which Zuckerberg is so committed. This is clear from past initiatives such as “trust indicators” designed to ensure quality journalism gets to the top of the pile. Whatever changes they make, it’s difficult to see Facebook making a U-turn that will see them penalising trusted content creators now.
This may be a moment for re-evaluation, but not for panic.
Facebook is under more scrutiny that ever so platitudes about personal connections coming above traffic can be taken with a pinch of salt. Implementing this move in the long-term, potentially at the expense of the profits businesses bring to Facebook, seems like an unlikely prospect in any significant form.
The lack of real details, range of actions businesses can take on Facebook to boost their content, and the growing attractiveness of options for B2B content outside Facebook, suggests that Zuckerberg’s bark is worse than his bite.