Facebook’s big algorithm update – what does it mean?
On Thursday January 11th Facebook announced its latest algorithm update, which founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg described to be “a major change to how we build Facebook”. The reason behind the Facebook algorithm update lies in the site’s development process, which aims at Facebook becoming more meaningful and social, i.e. to simply bring people together. The goal is to raise truly meaningful content up in one’s News Feed; the kind of content that would provoke true interaction between users.
My own reaction to this piece of news was something like “what’s new about this, then?”. For some time now, Facebook has been developing the News Feed algorithm to be one that favours the posts of friends and family members instead of business pages. This means that these business pages have been forced to dig, well, moderately deep into their pockets in order to maintain and amp up their impressions. Well, what then is new about this update? Why should anyone updating their business’ Facebook pay attention to this?
The organic reach of business pages will drop even lower
In practice, this Facebook algorithm update means that the content of friends, family members and groups will rise to the top of your News Feed leaving business pages far behind. This comes as surprise to surely no one. As the content of one’s friend continues to rise even higher up, the overall reach of business pages will sink even lower. Naturally, this creates an even sturdier cash flow of advertising money to Facebook’s pockets. This trend has been visible for some time now, since 2016 to be precise, but business pages were hit particularly hard in the autumn of 2017.
I believe that with this update, comments as a form of reaction will stand out; particularly the discussion that takes place in an update’s comment section will play a key role here. If you can manage to get two of your Facebook friends chatting in the comment section of your post, you can definitely tap yourself on the shoulder for making a successful post. Sure, likes still have a strong importance. But you should make sure that reactions are pursued fair and square since, as we know, tricks such as voting with reactions do not rise high in the viewers’ news feeds.
Algorithm’s favourites: groups, live videos and influencer collaborations
The newest Facebook algorithm update is particularly interesting because, as far as I know, it is the first algorithm update that doesn’t give videos a head start in the race for biggest reach. Facebook does, however, in its press release underline the importance of live videos as they have been found to provoke more interaction than others. Furthermore, Facebook does mention in passing that collaborations with public figures tend to ignite interaction. This small remark is noteworthy and in line with the way the meaning of influencer collaborations has grown in the past few years.
With this new algorithm update also groups will gain a more visible role. This means that businesses should pay attention to the possibilities of groups in their own Facebook communication: around which subject could we create a group? What exclusive content do we have to offer? Could a Facebook group be the solution to the challenges of B2B marketing? I find that the interaction that takes place in groups is currently the most rewarding content on Facebook. The number of new groups and the active use of current groups tells me that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Facebook seems to have noticed this, too.
Analyse your own news feed and learn from the content
My personal Facebook feed echoes this latest update quite heavily even now. As I’m writing this blog text, the ten topmost updates on my feed include three adverts, two group updates, three link shares by friends and two updates by a friend. Of all these ten, I’ve reacted to one; a survey published in a closed group. Thus I highly recommend everyone to inspect their feed with thought; take a moment to analyse what is visible in your feed and why? By analysing your own feed and comparing the situation now to what it will be in three months, you have a fantastic opportunity to learn about the evolution of the news feed and well-functioning content. What kind of content is visible to me and is it interesting? What do I click? And above all; what do I feel is the content worthy of my comments? When considering the long-term aim of business social media content, this algorithm pulls us more into the direction of systematic doing where quality replaces quantity.
All in all, this is another news feed update with a good intention; to make Facebook a social media yet again. The update encourages businesses to provide content more relevant to their target groups. This content, then, hopefully is one that ignites reactions and interaction. The question arises – why do we need Facebook’s algorithm update to remind us of this?