Is “Closer Together” Farther Apart? What Facebook Changes Mean for Business

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a Facebook update in which posts from business Pages will no longer appear in users’ primary News Feed. While paid posts will continue to appear in the News Feed, an impending drop in organic engagement with Page posts means brands need to revisit their social media strategies in anticipation of this shift.

The Backstory

A few months ago, Facebook launched a test market rollout in several countries, completely removing business Pages from News Feeds, placing posts from business Pages in a separate “Explore Feed,” to which users had to intentionally navigate to see the content. Many Pages reported seeing 80% drops in organic reach. In these countries, the main News Feed consisted entirely of friends and sponsored posts.

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that this will roll out globally. According to Facebook, the goal of this initiative is to “bring people closer together.”

So, what does this update to Facebook mean for businesses? Here’s a quick breakdown with our take on highlights from Zuckerberg’s post and Facebook Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri’s commentary in the Facebook blog post “News Feed FYI: Bringing People Closer Together.”

“As we make these updates, pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”

The algorithm update will decrease organic reach. When announcing changes in the past, Facebook has used terminology like, “Some Pages may see a decrease and some Pages may see an increase.” In this announcement, however, there was no mention of a possible positive impact to Page reach, which leads us to believe that the rollout will negatively impact organic reach across the board.

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.”

The push to create engaging content just became vital for survival. Social media strategies are multifaceted, and not all content is geared toward engagement. While a complete strategy tends to cover various types of content (such as informational posts like holiday hours, promotional posts, or educational content like this blog post), moving forward, brands’ social strategies will likely require a heavier emphasis on engagement-oriented posts, as well as sponsored content.

“See First” will still be available.

While there is hope in training audiences to choose See First for Pages, once users have taken this action, Pages will also need to reconsider their posting habits. For Pages used to posting at a high frequency, a reduced amount of posts may be in order to avoid bombarding followers with messages every day. Instead, posting higher value content less frequently—such as once or twice a week—will be key to ensuring that Page followers continue to want to see its content first.

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.”

Currently, most conversations on a brand or business Page happen between the Page and a user rather than two users. Moving forward, Pages will be charged with going beyond directly engaging users to creating an environment that welcomes and prompts conversations between individuals. Live videos, for example, can create real-time conversation, encouraging interactions both between individuals and with brands.

“Using ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into commenting on posts is not meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts.”

Marketers often try to find ways to encourage engagement; however, Facebook is continuing to discourage Pages from calling users to “share this post” by punishing this strategy. If Facebook demotes Page content, it will leave lasting effects on the Page’s lifetime authority.

As News Feeds have become increasingly bogged down with posts from friends, family, groups, and Pages, Facebook is extracting organic Page posts in an effort to keep audiences from jumping ship to other social media platforms.

The good news? Facebook says they are not completely eliminating all Page content from the News Feed. But an ad spend will be necessary for those Pages that seek to have a News Feed presence, which will likely cost a pretty penny.

Facebook has not yet fully rolled out these changes, so there is still time to get in front of them. If you’d like to talk about how Facebook’s latest update impacts your digital strategy, get in touch.

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