We're sure you all saw the news about the Facebook algorithm changes several weeks ago. On the 11th January 2018, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the platform was going to be showing less business content and more posts from friends and family.
In his announcement, Zuckerberg point blank said that brands are likely to see a reduction in the amount of impressions their content receives over the coming months. Naturally, this lead to many brands and marketing companies starting to panic about a loss of brand exposure on Facebook.
But, do we really need to be worried? Now the dust has settled, we wanted to share our thoughts about this moving forward.
Why would they do this?
Let’s start with the reasoning behind this move. Basically, Facebook engagement was dropping. People, although spending more time on the platform were actually ‘doing’ less when they got there. Liking less pictures and sharing less posts for example. This makes it harder for Facebook to know what content people actually want to see.
Attention is key in marketing, and seeing a reduction in the amount of engagement with the Facebook platform strongly suggests that people's attention is drifting elsewhere. It’s now quite natural to be scrolling through a Facebook feed while watching TV, having coffee with friends or even at the gym. You could almost say that scrolling through your Facebook feed has become a habit just like you might tap your foot at your desk or hum in the car.
Is this really a drastic change?
It’s long been the case that Facebook has shown users more of the type of content that they engage with. If you ‘like’ funny pictures of cats, you’ll probably see more funny pictures of cats. You’ve likely seen posts on Facebook over the years, saying things like “Like this post if you agree”. Normally with a post that you just couldn’t disagree with.
This has always been done with an algorithm called Edgerank and without getting too technical, this is what Edgerank looks like.
News Feed Visibility =
Page Interest X Post Performance X Past Page Performance X Content Type X Recency
While we’ve always known the factors that are taken into account with Edgerank, one thing we don’t know for certain is the weighting attached to each of these variables.
So how can you protect your brand?
With all these changes, how can you ensure that your brand’s followers will continue to see your content? It’s actually quite simple and all comes down to being a good brand citizen online.
Here's our top five ways to ensure the algorithm actually doesn’t hurt your brand, but loves it.
1 - Customer profiles
Know who you’re producing content for. While this may seem like a simple suggestion, many companies don’t actually know who they are targeting and instead just try to target everyone. This approach nearly always results in lower engagement as maybe one in twenty of your posts might actually resonate with your core followers.
2 - Consistent visuals and tone of voice
People need to get to know you and need to recognise you online. If everytime you post, your tone of voice is different, sometimes casual, sometimes really formal, your followers are going to find it really hard to actually get to know, like and trust you.
3 - Live video
Live video is becoming stronger than ever on Facebook, and despite many companies still being camera shy, it’s something that brands really need to be exploring. In a post by Sprout Social*, they cited Facebook saying that live video typically gets 10x more comments than pre-recorded/standard videos. Remember a big part of EdgeRank is engagement, and if live video is where engagement is higher, it makes sense to weave it into your social media mix.
Word of warning - don’t try and play the system. We’ve seen brands posting content on Facebook live that is just, well it’s just pretty naff. Every piece of content you share is a reflection of your brand, and needs to give value to a user. So statically panning round your office, or worse, using some nasty software to stream a number of still images (yes, we’ve seen this too!), isn’t giving value - it’s likely just an attempt to manipulate Edgerank.
What’s more, live video is a really cost effective way (you simply need a phone) to connect with your audience in a really authentic, transparent way.
4 - Don’t post too often
It’s long been the case that agencies, social media platforms and ‘digital gurus’ have banged the drum that the most important thing on social media is consistency. We’d see things like ‘you need to share X posts per week so potential customer see you showing up consistently’. While that’s hasn’t entirely changed, we need to be focussing on engagement above all else. If your posts on Mondays get no likes, no shares and just no engagement, then do you really need to be posting every Monday?
This is just one of the questions we need to be asking ourselves as brand managers now these changes are rolling out.
Facebook hasn’t for a long time shared content in a chronological order. It is a rookie mistake to think that if you post more, more people will see your content. Say you post 10 times per day and get a like on each post, that’s nowhere near as powerful as getting 8 likes on one post. Remember that Past Post Performance is part of the Edgerank algorithm so always go for quality over quantity with your posting schedule.
5 - Don’t manipulate
We’re going to follow this up with a full post. But one thing to be extremely careful about doing is trying to manipulate Facebook's algorithm. For those of you who have marketed your companies online for many years, you’ll know how hard Google came down on companies that tried to manipulate it’s algorithms doing things like buying backlinks. What we’d expect so see here is Facebook taking a similar approach in the future.
We’d strongly recommend that these recent changes should be looked at as a warning shot. If brands that have been trying to manipulate Edgerank on mass just continue with business as usual, it’s likely that Facebook will either a) penalise those pages or, b) turn up how strict Edgerank actually is.
Simple solution, just don’t do it!
So, if you’re a brand that is serious about using Facebook to help marketing your company, then you just need to be ensuring that a users best interests are what’s driving your decisions. Not trying to ‘cheat the system’, or do things just to get your likes up.