Facebook has changed its algorithm for displaying, ordering, and prioritising content, which means the way people use Facebook and interact with posts is going to change with it.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has decided to change Facebook to a more user-friendly experience, prioritising content that sparks comment and interaction between friends, over ad-based or commercial content from businesses. This move is set to cost Zuckerberg $3.3 billion of his personal worth, as the change will hit Facebook’s bottom line in a way many businesses would consider suicide. However this is a calculated move designed to appeal to user, not business owners.
One way this will directly impact the newsfeed is by drastically reducing video content. While video content is popular, it is also passive, gaining views, but not interaction. Facebook wants to encourage and reward content that generates comments and ‘meaningful interactions’. Zuckerberg has said: "By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down, but I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable."
This is a shocking turn away from Zuckerberg’s previous model of Facebook, one which rewarded and desired engagement of any kind at all costs, no matter what that engagement is with. As he’s found out: not all engagement is positive, not all of it is constructive, and not all of it is friendly. In the wake of ‘fake news’, revenge porn scandals, and live-streaming suicides, Facebook has come under fire from all angles, and has wisely opted to put a focus on quality, opposed to engagement (which is tantamount to ad revenue.)
What This Means For Businesses
Put simply, this is going to have a negative impact on businesses. Unless your content stimulates discussion, it will suffer, and since the public is growing increasingly resistant to advertising, this seems unlikely. Many brands and smaller organisations rely heavily, or even entirely on Facebook for their marketing, and this move may cripple them. Bigger companies can survive a knock in click-through rates, or a drop in views, but this signals a wider change away from advertising, at least in the social sphere.
On a platform that was originally built around social interaction, sponsored or commercial posts were and still are an unwelcome intrusion. For users, paid-for content is a hassle at best, and a reason to leave the platform at worst. Some people have become so concerned with Facebook’s data harvesting and ad-based content that they have deleted their accounts entirely.
In order to combat this, Facebook had no choice but to revert to an earlier strategy, one that puts its users above everything. What this means for businesses on Facebook, is they’re going to have to reach their audience in increasingly creative, unconventional ways, or in ways that directly reward that audience.
This is the nature of PR in the 21st Century: a creative way of communicating with an audience to deliver a specific message, in a way that rewards their attention. To do this on Facebook, any post, any video, any message that is meant to leverage a brand, sell a product, or build awareness, will need to offer something to its audience. Whether that’s through thought-provoking content, a campaign that sparks debate or conversation, or a video that surprises people with genuinely interesting facts, your audience must feel they have gained something from interacting or engaging with what you put out. It must resonate. Or it won’t work.
PR can subvert Facebook’s algorithm by giving your audience a message encoded in content they genuinely want to see. By infiltrating through endless posts from friends and family and providing a payoff for their attention, people are more likely to remember, like, and engage with you, and this can all converted into genuine support for your brand.
For a free PR consultation, or to find out more about how you use content, video, and social media to your advantage, call The Relations Group on 020 7158 0000, or get in touch with us.