January 17, 2018, posted by Brian Vieira
POV: Facebook’s Algorithm Change & Your Marketing
Facebook is once again updating their algorithm to combat criticism regarding the quality of content shared across the social network. They claim the change will favor friends’ posts, videos, and photos, and journalism outlets based on credibility. Public polling data and subscription numbers (i.e., are people willing to pay for this information), will determine their credibility.
At face value, this change appears to have the most significant impact on media outlets; however, the algorithm is expected to have a considerable effect on advertisers as well.
Facts & Figures
Facebook is Bumming Us Out
Facebook acknowledged that an additional driver behind this change is the finding that ‘passive consumption of information’ is bad for our mood. Back in December, Facebook referenced an article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, showing that passive usage of Facebook – even for just 10 minutes – hurts our sense of wellbeing.
Time On Site
Mark Zuckerberg expects that the time users spend on the platform, in general, will go down as a result of this change.
Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down.
Less time on site means less time for users to see and engage with a brand’s content. This shorter timeframe will require increased spend from advertisers on Facebook as they’ll need to get their message in front of users early and prominently if they want to be noticed.
Organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for years now, hovering around 1-2% on average, depending on the size of your audience. Facebook’s goal is to provide users with what they believe will be meaningful to them (i.e., conversation vs. ads). Engagement metrics, such as likes and comments, have always played into whether or not your organic posts are shown, and the impact of engagement will increase with these latest changes, resulting in ‘comment debates’ with friends, and fewer posts from brands and publications.
It’s important to remember that Facebook owns Instagram, and therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that both properties are moving in the same direction regarding how content is served to their users. Regarding Instagram, there has been a lot of complaints that the feed is no longer in chronological order, this is because their algorithm now places a higher value on engagement. The result for users is Christmas posts on January 3rd and posts about people being excited for a playoff game…five days after their team has lost the game.
By now, marketers are used to Facebook’s changes working against them, but that doesn’t mean that the channel is no longer valuable. In the past, brands and their agencies have been able to adapt by focusing on engagement and driving conversations. To combat the recent algorithm change, marketers will need to double down on this strategy, while exploring ways to focus, test, and increase their spend on their best content.
Additionally, taking a cue from Instagram, the role of Influencers will increase in importance as we move forward. These users have an already-developed and engaged following that brands can leverage.
Lastly, in addition to the algorithm change, Facebook has introduced new opportunities for advertisers such as their dedicated “Watch” video section. This section is proof of Facebook’s intention to become a ‘media company,’ as advertisers can sponsor shows or purchase video ads within commercial breaks (i.e., mid-roll ads). Currently, the average viewing time within the Watch section is more than 50% greater than videos in the news feed.
To discuss how your brand can adapt its marketing to become more successful on Facebook (and other channels), start a conversation.