Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the upcoming changes to Facebook’s newsfeed has a lot of us talking. Coincidently, that’s exactly the desired outcome that he wants for the platform. These latest updates will place higher value on comments and sharing, so any content with an empty comments stream will reach less people. Ultimately, he believes these changes will ensure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”
He says that Facebook was built to connect family and friends. These types of connections make us happier and that’s important. Yet somehow, we’ve ended up in a place where there’s more brand and publisher content than personal content. To fix this, the ranking system in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will be adjusted.
How it is now?
Rankings place high value on clicks and reactions, placing content that attracts a lot of these types of engagement higher up in our newsfeeds. Sponsoring this type of content almost certainly earns you a place in people’s newsfeeds based on the type of targeting you employed and any engagement will increase reach.
How will it be after the changes?
More value will be placed on content that people share with friends, as well as content that they comment on. Sponsoring will not necessarily guarantee you a place in your audience’s newsfeed any more, unless a certain amount of active engagement is garnered first.
Why? Because Facebook wants us to talk to each other more, click on website links less and actively engage with content. According to Zuckerberg, watching a video or clicking like is considered passive engagement, commenting and sharing is considered active engagement.
This move is back-tracking from previous strategies, in the past 12 months Facebook has pushed video content and supported publishers, relaxing restrictions on sponsoring content. At this point, it’s clear that the platform had lost much of its original purpose. Users are sharing less of their personal stories, and even if they do, they will often get buried under sponsored content. These proposed changes will reverse this effect, bringing us closer to how the platform used to operate a few years ago.
What does that mean for a brand’s PR and social strategy? It means that content posted on social channels needs to focus on things that are sharable and start conversations. Any content that purely drives to websites will most likely suffer a sharp decline in reach. Content that typically drives a lot of reactions (likes, loves, laughs, etc.) will probably suffer the same. Videos may also suffer if they do not generate any “active” engagement.
At this point, before the changes kick in, current evergreen social strategies need revising, especially if it is sponsored content. These new changes will make it much trickier to reach people unless share-ability and conversation are at the core of the content. However, it’s important to remember that, at this point, we have no true understanding of how these changes will manifest. Each brand page will be affected differently and whilst content calendars should be revised, it’s a matter of adjustment, not abandonment.