Facebook, as we know it, is about to see some MAJOR changes.
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement that will forever alter the way we view content on the famous white and blue network.
The reasons for this overhaul stem from the controversy Facebook has attracted in recent years over content distribution, of which culminated during the 2016 United States Presidential Election. The News Feed essentially became the poster child for fake news, misinformation, and divisive discourse across the globe. The result was that many users would leave Facebook with a negative taste in their mouth. Being as how this platform was originally created to bring people closer together, it seemed like Facebook’s progression was achieving the exact opposite.
With the new algorithm change, users can expect to see less content generated directly from public pages and media outlets, and more from friends and family. The goal is to create a Facebook experience that is more relevant and positive to each of its participants.
So, where does this leave businesses and publishers?
Well, there’s no point in sugarcoating it; businesses and publishers will likely be hit hard by the new update.
The brass at Facebook has made it clear that the algorithms will devalue person-to-page interactions, and will instead prioritize person-to-person interactions. The result is that updates shared by your friends and family will be placed above posts distributed by publishers and business pages.
It’s no secret that organic reach on Facebook has been on a slow decline for businesses and content outlets. This algorithm change is expected to take this trend to a new level.
While it’s unlikely that Facebook will leave this type of content in the dust completely, chances are, the way it is ranked to an individual user will be based on the interactions it’s getting from their friends and family. For example, let’s say you (as an everyday user) follow a page that does sports commentary. Where that page’s content is placed in your News Feed will depend heavily on how your friends and family are interacting with it. The more people you know that are liking, commenting, and sharing that content, the higher it will rank. The objective will be to have more conversations on Facebook with people you know, as opposed to strangers.
While there is still a lot of speculation in regards to how exactly business strategies should be altered, we have several bold predictions to (potentially) help boost your content’s rankings in the near future. Let’s discuss.
1. Focus on the Conversation
One of the major points of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement was that he wants to eliminate content that leads to “passive experiences.”
This term refers to the content that people scroll through without interacting. According to him, posts like this take away from the personal, interactive Facebook experience that was originally intended.
Instead, it’s likely that the favorable content pieces will be the ones that actively encourage meaningful, two-way dialogue. Many publishers will probably need to restructure their content creation and distribution methods around this idea in order to gain valuable referral traffic.
One of the best places to start is by learning how to write exceptional headlines.
A report by Copyblogger found that 80% of people will only read your headline copy. This is one of the major areas where a lot publishers get scrutinized. Even though Facebook’s algorithms have wised up to clickbait headlines, many public accounts (including news media platforms) commonly use distorted headlines with inaccurate information to spark outrage amongst readers. The goal is to get people in an uproar the for the purpose of gaining likes, shares, and ultimately, profits. This practice was thrusted into the spotlight during the 2016 United States Presidential Election.
By using these types of “outrage” tactics, much of the fake news overshadowed truthful news during this time.
If publishers today want to be successful in the new algorithm change, they need to learn how to create headlines that prompt positive and meaningful discourse. Asking questions are a great way to do this.
Another strategy is to get more descriptive with your headline and present a CTA, as this can open the door for further interactions down the road.
Moving forward, something you should definitely try avoid in your headlines is writing for shock value or quick emotional triggers. These headlines are a big part of the problem Facebook is attempting to solve.
The most important thing to remember when creating and distributing content on Facebook is how it will resonate with people. In other words, empathy.
How can you craft posts that get people talking in a positive way?
Do your best to examine your messaging from all angles. If you want to get people talking, your content needs to be worded in a way that invites valid discourse.
2. Make Live Video a Priority
If there’s one thing you ought to know about Mark Zuckerberg, it’s that he is ALL about video content. One of the last major algorithm updates occurred when live video was introduced in 2016. The adjustment pushed live video streams to the top of the organic Facebook rankings.
While there are no guarantees, it’s a safe bet to say that live video is a format that will almost certainly bring positive returns for businesses and publishers. Reports show that it gets 10 times more engagement than traditional videos.
This trend contributes to the prediction that this algorithm change will place value on real-time reactions and back-and-forth.
Given all the hype and benefits surrounding live video, this type of content should certainly be a cornerstone in your strategy once the effects of the latest update take hold.
Fortunately, being that Facebook Live has been around for almost two years now, there are many common threads you can pick up to determine what makes a stream successful. From a business standpoint, one of the most valuable aspects is that it opens up opportunities to give viewers a raw look into what your organization is all about.
A pattern we’ve seen over the years is the success of AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) with guest hosts. These allow users to engage directly with brands in real-time. As an example, Sephora put on a really good one that interviewed Jen Atkin from Ouai Haircare and Christophe Robin Paris to discuss all kinds of tips, trends, and product advice for the holidays.
There are plenty of ways you can make awesome live broadcasts on Facebook.
The key is to be overly personable and present relevant value. Live video is about as close as you can get to having an actual conversation with followers.
Shortly after Facebook Live came out, Zuckerberg famously claimed; “Within five years, Facebook will be mostly video.”
Capitalizing on this unique format could very well be the answer to surviving the new update.
3. Stay Current
One of the basic outlines Zuckerberg mentioned in his big announcement is that the primary goal is to provide content on Facebook that is interesting and relevant to the everyday user.
In the name of relevancy, publishers need to make a strong effort to create and distribute content that plays to what’s trending. This is nothing new to the world of social media. However, the practice will likely take on a much bigger role in catapulting content to the top of the rankings.
These days, many publishers place a priority on creating evergreen content. While this will always be important, it’s the content that addresses trending issues that generally sees more interactions. For example, here are two posts Hubspot shared the day after Zuckerberg’s big announcement.
The one of the left is discussing the breaking news, whereas the one on the right is a typical how-to post about management. You’ll notice the post on the left got over 300 more shares.
Now, this is by no means a hint that you should completely abandon your general advice-type content. But, putting more weight on trending content is something businesses and publishers should certainly consider.
Over to You
As with most major changes to algorithms, the exact details will probably not be black and white.
Therefore, just like what SEO experts are constantly doing with Google’s algorithm updates, Facebook publishers will need to be working to find new and innovative ways to improve their organic rankings.
While an approach may work one day, it’s very possible that it won’t do anything the next. The good news is that the effects of this algorithm change won’t likely present themselves for another few months. That being said, the best thing you can do right now as a publisher is come up with a number of different strategies and content plans to test and gauge the results.
What do you think about the new Facebook algorithm update?
What impact do think it will have?
Let us know in the comments!