What You Should Know About The New Facebook Feed Algorithm Update
Online marketers often find themselves to be puppets at the hands of a few internet giants who push and sway the everyday workings of each algorithm update. Though companies like Google and Facebook are known to update their algorithms frequently, most of it goes unnoticed by the crowd in general. That happens until there is an ‘announced’ update which sends us marketers scurrying back to our digital drawing boards to wonder how we should react to it, what we should be telling our clients and how our well-calculated strategy for the year will get affected.
The latest among these announced updates came from Facebook this January when Mark Zuckerberg announced that there would be lesser brand updates on the Facebook feed. It was a way to say that their users came first.
What does this update really mean?
Let’s interpret a few essential sections from this update.
1. “The new algorithm will emphasize posts from friends and family over viral videos and clickbait headlines from Pages.”
Remember that news item about “19 hilarious proposal fails of all times” stories that pop up on your feed?
People seem to love it… a lot! Looks like some people may be complaining too (or so Facebook says). So if you don’t like such stuff much, there is a lesser chance you’ll see it in your feed.
2. “… recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments.”
Because and so-called click-bait posts worked, they started increasing in numbers. The reality is that our Facebook feed is easily filled with them since we tend to click such articles frequently. Eventually, the algorithm went to the extent of prioritizing these posts instead of those from friends and family.
This meant that the power of content marketing raised its ugly head and started eating into Facebook’s revenues. Brands with inherently viral content started getting more eyeballs for free. Facebook decided to intervene to ensure that the balance was maintained and brands are forced to pay for getting their content visible.
3. “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.”
Marketers can read between the lines. It means that you’ll have to work much harder if you have to get your brand content out organically. Otherwise, you can pay to find your way into your customer’s feed.
How will a user’s news feed be affected?
The statement provided by Zuckerberg can be best described as murky. It talks about “helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
Content cannot be meaningful without being relevant. But generic content can be relevant without being meaningful. So how exactly will Facebook’s ‘brain’ know what an individual finds relevant or meaningful?
Let’s see you see an interesting DIY video. You watch the entire video and then move on. But if I don’t like, share or comment, Facebook may think that this video isn’t ‘relevant’. So even if you like to watch a certain type of video, your interaction will be key determining factor. We don’t like, comment or share everything we see so determining relevancy becomes a tricky business.
What does this mean for your Facebook strategy?
Facebook started its journey by encouraging people to accrue a ‘fan following’. When it realised that the power was slipping out of its hands because brands could directly talk to their community by being in their news feed, it started imposing algorithmic restrictions. Brands eventually had to pay to ensure that they could get a slice of their OWN followers’ attention.
Today, when you choose to ‘boost’ you post, one of the clear options is ‘People who like your page’. This means that the number of followers took a back seat and engagement was put as the connecting metric between users and brands.
This announcement from Facebook may try to put up a users-first ideology but if you read between the lines, all Facebook is doing is what it has done before. It is restricting a brand’s organic reach and pushing brands to pay to get user attention. Organic viral content may not be the key to trend on Facebook and, good ol’ money will do the talkin.
For now, brands will probably continue to look for the next jugaad to circumvent such policies. Until there, here’s to optimizing campaigns, generating leads and tracking conversions.