Facebook News Feed Changes
For the past month and a half, those three words have been sending people into a panic.
Don’t have a complete meltdown though! It’s not the end of Facebook for marketing.
On January 11, 2018 Mark Zuckerberg announced some significant changes to the Facebook News Feed. From the announcement,
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.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
The announcement goes on further to say,
Because space in News Feed is limited, seeing posts from friends and family, and updates that spark conversation, means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.
As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.
If you read that last line, we have a very good clue as to what Facebook wants from us. Given that the focus of this change is to create a place where people can have conversations and create relationships, we should all keep that in mind when creating any type of content. If you read the entire announcement, you will see that theme mentioned repeatedly. And, this applies to all areas of Facebook; personal profiles, pages, groups, and events. The more real conversations that happen, the more likely those conversations will show up in the News Feeds of others.
Considering what Facebook has said what they want from us, here are some things business owners can do to make the most of the changes:
Strive for Meaningful Conversations
For several years I’ve been telling people to think of their business page or group as a destination, a place where people come to interact with friends. That, in a nutshell, is what Facebook is asking of us. They want to see people talking to each other. And for page or group owners, that means you want to see people talking to each other – not just to the page or group owner. And the more you can get people talking, and writing long-thoughtful responses, the better.
Remember the TV series Cheers? How about the lyrics?
Be glad there’s one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name.
Cheers was definitely a community! Sam Malone created a space for people, where they truly did know each other’s names, and have meaningful conversations. Think of yourself as Sam Malone, and your group or page as Cheers. You’re there to welcome people, help with their needs, talk with them, and encourage them to get to know each other.
Focus on Quality
Post content that is high quality, and relevant to your audience. This may mean posting less often. That is okay! The days of posting more hoping you’ll have a better chance of showing up in the news feed are gone. It’s going to be much more beneficial to post a few times a week, and get a conversation going, than it will be to post just for the sake of posting.
Do more videos
Zuckerberg has made it quite clear that he’s all in when it comes to video. In November Zuckerberg posted on Facebook that “Over the next three years, the biggest trend in our products will be the growth of video.” And, as the January News Feed announcement states,
Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.
Again, the idea of using quality videos will be the key. This includes live videos especially, but videos that are uploaded as well. And since we are interested in meaningful conversations, we all need to be doing live video with topics that are relevant to our audience. Avoid going live just for the sake of going live.
Keep in mind that Facebook favors videos that are uploaded directly to Facebook, rather than links to videos that are other sites, such as YouTube.
Since people in groups tend to share the same interest, there is normally a fair amount of conversation between group members. If you decide to set up a group for your business though, have a strategy for its use. Again, remember Facebook wants to see people actively engaging in conversations. If you don’t have a strategy, and a plan to get the conversation going, it won’t be as successful.
Over the past several years, Facebook reach for pages has been dwindling. This isn’t new and many businesses are using Facebook ads successfully. If you’re not yet, now is a good time to start with some inexpensive ads.
Check your Insights
Pay attention to posts that get the most engagement. Post similar content, or go into more detail with those topics.
It’s likely you’ve already interacted with chat bots (aka messenger bots). Chat bots allow page owners to set up automated messages like this and opt-ins for visitors. Think of it as a way to build a Facebook mailing list. Visitors don’t necessarily provide the chat bot owner with an email address, but when they opt-in, the page owner can send messages to them via Facebook Messenger.
Once you have people subscribed to your chat bot, you can send them messages letting them know when you’re going live, about a post you think is exceptional, etc.
For example, if you go to my business page, Therese Kopiwoda, and go to Send Message, you’ll see this:
When you click on either of those options, you’ll opt-in to my bot and get a download or get notifications when I go live.
Have an online presence other than Facebook
Many small businesses have a Facebook page instead of a website. While it’s true that your clients are probably already on Facebook, you don’t rely solely on Facebook, or any social platform, as your only online presence. Doing so can be risky, especially when a company decides to change the rules. I highly suggest you have a website of your own, which ensures you will always have a place online that you control. And I’ll add a shameless plug here, and remind you that I’m a WordPress web designer. So let me know if you need a website.
What NOT to do
Facebook has specifically mentioned certain types of posts, called engagement bait, that we should avoid. From the announcement,
Using “engagement-bait” to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.
They’re cracking down on this type of spammy content. Posting it will likely mean that post won’t be seen, and doing so repeatedly will probably get your page in a heap of trouble!
Here are the types of engagement bait Facebook :
- Vote baiting – click the thumbs up if you like dogs, click the heart if you love cats
- React baiting – Like this if . . .
- Share baiting – Share with 10 friends for a chance to win . . .
- Tag baiting – Tag your friends if . . . whatever
- Comment baiting – Comment Yes if you love dogs as much as I do
The Bottom Line
None of us outside of Facebook know for certain how the News Feed changes will effect us. But if we focus on fostering real, authentic relationships in our communities we’ll stand a better chance of accomplishing our goals. So strive to truly get to know people in your community, help and/or entertain them, and encourage them to get to know each other.