Facebook’s News Feed Changes: Brands, are you paying attention?

| Amit Mehta | - @AmitKO84

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Q) Why did we join Facebook?

A) So that we could connect with our family and friends. Get to know which friend’s been on a vacation to Bora Bora, or which cousin’s had a baby (Comment immediately- Awwww! Beautiful :) )

And that’s all we wanted to see. People we know/people we’re forced to add as friends (let’s be polite) and what they’re up to.

Correct?

Slowly, along the way, content from companies/brands crept in. Contests, news articles, promoted content and a whole pile of video junk. All of which took the soul of Facebook away from us.

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We steadily saw less of personal connected posts/ images and more of ‘news’ (fake alert!). The company had moved away from being a social networking platform to a news organisation. So much that there’s a massive conspiracy theory about how Russia used Facebook to propagate fake news and rig the US elections (and they did TRiUMPh).

Brands thrived on promoting their content to any pre-defined audience at an advertising cost. However poor the content was. After all, over two billion active users are impossible to resist. And Facebook raked in all the moolah.

 All of that is going to be a thing of the past. Facebook’s decided to bring the social back into its network.

As per Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed (Facebook)

“Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships. One of the ways we do this is by connecting people to meaningful posts from their friends and family in News Feed. Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.”

 (Desktop users: Right click on video to unmute)

 What does this mean for brands/ marketers?

It’s not like brands had too much organic traffic anyway (under 2%). Now, they can kiss that goodbye!

In simple words, Facebook marketers will need to work a whole lot more to connect with their audience. How well you engage the audience will be more important than how much you spend to promote your posts.

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As Zuckerberg mentioned in his post, a majority of the content in the news feed will revolve around family, friends and groups. Users will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.

 Content needs to be highly engaging

“The public content you see more will be held to the same standard (as privately shared content) — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” - Mark Zuckerberg

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Posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people will be prioritized.

These would be posts that:

Brands will need to ensure that their articles or videos foster discussions for their posts to truly succeed.

 No Engagement Baiting please!

Yeah, if you think the above will help increase engagement with your posts, Good Luck!

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The tactic is known as ‘engagement bait’ i.e., trying to take advantage of the Facebook algorithms by boosting engagements for better reach. Facebook hates it and demotes posts from people and pages that do it.

Stick to normal engagement tactics please. Don’t beg for likes, shares, comments or reactions.

 Encourage customers to follow your Facebook page

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Here’s a true test of the loyalty your brand garners on Facebook. Get users to select the ‘See first’ option. This will help users see your brand content upfront. “Following” a brand or checking the “See first” option helps Facebook know that the users are genuinely interested in getting the brand information.

 Facebook loves Live Videos

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Live videos get six times as many interactions as regular videos. They lead to a lot more conversations and will directly relate with appearing higher on the news feed. Investing in quality live videos will do wonders for your brand’s engagement rates.

 Use Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are often a place where people discuss public topics. Brands can use this forum to create content targeting local regions.

 Increase in advertising costs

What happens when there’s less ‘brand real estate’ to compete for in a user’s News Feed? The obvious: an increase in costs.

Zuckerberg expects users to spend lesser time on Facebook. (Less, but more valuable.) Which means even lesser time seeing branded ads.

Although, nothing explicitly has been said about ad costs, it’s quite evident. There’s a good chance brands will have to spend more on paid ads to get the same number of views.

Things will probably be worse if your brand spits out low-quality and boring content. You’re better off not posting at all.

 Last words

Brands, it might be worth investing in your own property (website, apps etc.) and reduce your dependency on the ever-changing social networks! This will give you full control over the experience you’ll provide to your audience.

With Facebook’s news feed changes, brand pages may see their reach, video views and referral traffic reduce. Especially if the posts don’t generate any reactions or comments.

In the social media space, rules keep changing (optimizing, as they would call it). Hence, keep up with it.

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Here are a few words on the topic by the man himself-

Amit Mehta is Business Head at Influx, and based in Dubai. With over twelve years of marketing and business-development experience across Europe, Middle East and India, Amit manages market growth of global cinemas for Influx. Touch base with him for a chat about movies, tech, and unicorns.

 
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