Facebook’s most recent changes to the news feed have certainly whipped businesses, marketers and news organisations into a frenzy – and for good reason.
In case you haven’t heard, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook will now prioritise content from friends and family and deliver less from brands, business pages and news sites in a bid to keep the social platform, well, social.
Mark’s statement on the matter quotes users’ wellbeing and happiness as at the heart of the changes. The increasing responsibility to filter out fake news may also play a part.
Ultimately, it means a new algorithm will start separating out the personal from the promotional and Facebook is steadfast despite the backlash from organisations and the media, who are suitably surly about the effect this will have as they post content in order to drive traffic to their own sites.
Organic post reach will suffer significantly, and whilst it has been claimed paid-for ads won’t be affected, there will undoubtedly be some knock-on effect with increased competition as businesses look to invest more in Facebook advertising to maintain meaningful content reach.
It may sound all doom and gloom for social media savvy businesses who generate interest in their products or services through their Facebook page. We would argue, however, that it’s actually an opportunity to have a bit of a re-think about your content and sharing strategy.
Facebook hasn’t said it will filter out all news from our feeds. Rather, what it aims to do is deliver only trustworthy news sources. The likes of the BBC will get a higher ‘trust’ rating, for example, than online sites such as Buzzfeed and Mashable. This makes content placement key, something PR is well practised in. Crafting a story worthy of ‘trusted’ media has never been more important.
The new algorithm will prioritise posts with high engagement and the lengthier the responses, the better. Getting people to comment on your posts will be a vital component in getting your stuff seen. Creativity in your content will be increasingly more crucial and this is where PRs come into their own, perfectly practised at finding the ‘engaging’ angle that triggers a reaction.
Engagement and shareability are inter-linked. If people connect with your content enough to comment, they will hopefully be more inclined to share as well. This is where more personal stories will prevail over dry business updates. Facebook is forcing you to connect more with your audience. Storytelling is a mainstay of PR, and PRs worth their salt are adept at finding the personal stories that will both connect, and invite more comments and shares.
What is clear is a structured social strategy for your brand has never been more important. It may include more diversity in the platforms used, a different mix of paid-for and organic content and enhanced planning behind the drafting and sharing of posts. Quality over quantity will be the order of the day, and brands will certainly need to address how to involve their workforce, as engagement and shareability should really start from within, although this brings with it its own challenges in terms of internal communication and control.
However, if you plan to tackle the changes, getting your sales and marketing team together with a PR professional from the outset can give your social strategy the edge it needs to ensure you’re not wiped from the social scene in Facebook’s news feed clean up.
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