Facebook Newsfeed Update: Obstruction or Opportunity?

Facebook Newsfeed Update: Obstruction or Opportunity?

By now you’ve seen the news about Facebook News Feed. You may have even seen it earlier this week on our blog. Basically, Mark Zuckerberg announced via Facebook post that in the coming weeks the Facebook algorithm will change to reflect a newsfeed that is more focused on meaningful interaction and connection with friends and family versus posts from businesses, brands and media. This is a big announcement, but not the first time Facebook has edited their algorithm to better represent what they think is best for Facebook users (which is best for Facebook’s business).

Still, with any announcement Zuckerberg make re:algorithm changes, you should take a minute and consider the implications and if/how you should revise your social media strategy to reflect those changes.

The News Feed changes will not have an immediate impact on paid advertising or sponsored posts. My colleague outlined the paid perspective in detail on our blog earlier this week. What we have to talk about now are the implications this algorithm change has on organic content. To understand the implications, we need to first understand the impetus for the overhaul.

Why is Facebook doing this?

Zuckerberg stated that, according to their research, “passively reading articles or watching videos even if they’re entertaining or informative may not be as good.” With ‘good’ correlating to ‘long-term measures of happiness and health.’

Facebook users may not feel as good when only reading articles or watching videos published by people who are not their friends and family. On the other hand, when Facebook users strengthen their relationships with friends, family and those close to them through meaningful interaction and connection on Facebook, their overall happiness improves.

With these changes, Facebook expects an immediate drop in time the average user spends on Facebook. This should correlate with more happiness in the Facebook user’s life. And keeping users happy long-term is good for business.

Overall, this is a change in how Facebook views itself. By diminishing their role as a news platform, Facebook sees themselves less as a media juggernaut and more like what they envisioned from the start, a medium in which people can enjoy personal connections and meaningful interactions.

It’s great to see one of the most powerful companies in the world make gestures toward improving its users’ lives, but what does all this really mean? And how much do you need to worry as a Facebook user?

Who suffers most?

Until the changes are rolled out and noticeable, no one is sure what the exact implications will be and how much they really need to worry. But it is safe to assume the biggest losers are media companies and publishers that put all their eggs in the Facebook basket. Think about those publishers that you had never heard of before they started popping up on your newsfeed, usually with clickbait headlines without much substance, trying to feed off Facebook’s popularity.

One key takeaway here is diversification. Do not rely on any one medium for content distribution. In the ever-evolving, ever-changing digital world, you need to be ready to pivot and keep your finger on the pulse of the digital landscape.

We always recommend, and still will recommend, Facebook as part of your content strategy. But, more importantly, we recommend diversity in your content strategy. It’s important to mix up your content delivery. Consider which platforms work best for the types of content you create, but remember that reliance on any one medium or platform creates issues when abrupt changes like this occur.

So what can I do?

Don’t panic. While this does change how you should think about your organic Facebook strategy, it is not an indictment of Facebook’s organic value. There is still opportunity, especially if your content can influence those meaningful, personal connections that Facebook hungers for. Continue creating content, and continue creating content that people want to read, share and interact with. Don’t focus so much on what could go viral, but instead focus on what elicits an emotional or practical response from readers.

Create and distribute content on Facebook that you think your followers will share. You can still reach a large audience on Facebook, but now it might be through those friends and family members of your target audience rather than just through your institution’s page. Consider who is influencing the people you want to reach. And remember not to make content for Facebook. Make great content for your target audience that you will also put on Facebook.

While a huge number of publishers may suffer from this change, you don’t have to. Yes, you may see less traffic in the immediate future, but that is okay. Your organic Facebook strategy can still be effective long-term, you just need to make sure you are doing it right

Don’t think about this as an obstruction, consider it an opportunity. Now more than ever, focus on high-impact quality content that your audience wants to read, interact with and share.

Create something that will make them happy, that will make them think, that will make a positive, meaningful contribution to their lives. What matters to people that matter? Who matters to people that matter? Why does that matter to them? Organic content has always been about matching the message to the masses, and this algorithm update doesn’t change that.

What are your thoughts on the new update? Tweet at us @convergeorg and let us know your new and next ideas for colleges and universities.

Christian Larsen
Christian Larsen
January 19, 2018