What Does Facebook’s Massive News Feed Change Mean For Small and Local Businesses?
Big news! (Maybe) - Facebook is going back to its roots. Yesterday, the social media giant announced massive changes to News Feed, prioritizing what family and friends share and comment on above posts from businesses, brands, and publishers.
This massive News Feed update will now mean that users will see less public content, including videos and other posts from the businesses, brands, and media they follow and instead see more of what their family and friends are posting about and interacting with.
Right now, Facebook prioritizes a post based on how many people react to, comment on, or share that post. With this update, Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed.”
These posts are meant to “inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”
Why is Facebook doing this?
It’s no secret that Facebook can have damaging effects on society. From Russians advertising on Facebook to impact the 2016 election to Facebook’s negative effect on mental health, it’s received a lot of criticism, even from its former execs.
Every year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sets a personal challenge. This year, he explained that “the world feels anxious and divided” and that Facebook was a contributor to these feelings. His personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing the damages that Facebook is causing to society, and rolling back the impact of brands and publishers is one of the first strategies towards achieving this goal.
Is Facebook eliminating Page content from News Feed?
Facebook stated in their update that no, this will not eliminate page content from News Feed, writing, “This update is not the same as the recent tests where all Page content was moved to the Explore Tab. Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.”
What does this News Feed update mean for small and local businesses?
While every publisher and business big and small will see an immediate decline in their page reach, video watch time, and referral traffic, small and local businesses that rely on organic page reach will likely be hurt the most from this update.
Facebook organic reach has been declining since 2014. There is so much content being pushed out by brands and publishers on Facebook that its made News Feed real estate incredibly competitive.
For Facebook users, this decline in organic reach is generally viewed as a positive because it prioritizes what content is relevant to a particular user.
For brands and publishers, this decline in organic reach makes it more difficult to reach users, but it forces businesses to be more selective in what they publish, create better content, and essentially “pay-to-play” by creating ads and putting money towards boosting posts.
With this new update, big brands that have the money to spend backing their posts will certainly have to spend more to reach their audience as ad costs increase, but small and local businesses that don’t have the marketing dollars to spend towards reaching their audience on Facebook will certainly suffer the most from this rollback.
Because of the established decline in organic reach, brands and publishers should have already shifted their focus to creating better content that drives likes, clicks, views, and engagement, while adjusting their marketing budgets toward Facebook advertising and boosting posts.
Now, brands and publishers will need to place an even greater emphasis on these strategies in order to reach their audiences. Facebook has made it clear that “pages whose posts prompt conversations” will be affected less by this update and will show higher in News Feed.
What type of Page posts will “prompt conversations” and show higher in News Feed?
Facebook’s first example of a post that will “lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook” is a live video. According to Facebook, “live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”
In addition to live videos, small businesses will also benefit from posting relevant updates that connect with their communities, such as news and local events.
Internal marketing departments and agencies that work with small, local businesses and publishers will certainly need to readjust their strategy to place a greater emphasis on live video.
Another strategy that brands and publishers should employ is creating a Facebook group based on their audience. Facebook groups typically create meaningful discussion, and if you’re, for instance, a small, local healthcare practice, it might be a good idea to create a Facebook group dedicated to posting events and articles focused on living a healthy lifestyle.
Will you still be able to reach people that follow your page without paying?
Facebook has stated that yes, people who follow your page and want to see your posts will be able to do so by choosing “See First in News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages.”
How might this News Feed update affect other social media channels?
While Facebook is the largest social media network on the planet, with more than 2 billion users, its monthly active users and posts have been in decline. This has forced brands to make a shift in their social media strategy to posting more content on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
With this News Feed update, we expect more small brands and small publishers to begin exploring business opportunities on those platforms while placing a smaller emphasis on their Facebook marketing.
If you have more questions about Facebook’s News Feed update, your social media marketing strategy, or your overall digital marketing strategy and goals, give us a call at 206-455-2929 or email us here.