What’s the one thing that Facebook puts at the top of its wish list?
It’s the user experience. Making sure that its users are happy and fulfilled is the social media behemoth’s raison d’tre.
How does Facebook’s algorithm achieve this state of user experience nirvana?
Well, most often by making subtle changes to its Newsfeed. The only problem for businesses is that these subtle changes can often have profound effects.
In a recent blog post titled “News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages”, Facebook threw some light on its practices, claiming that it was its responsibility to offer each user the “right mix of updates from friends and public figures, publishers, businesses, and local organizations you are connected to.” (sic) As admirable as that may sound, it still presents a problem because the Facebook audience is made up of all manner of users and each of these will necessarily have different needs and requirements.
Like they say, one man’s meat is another man’s murder. Some users principally use Facebook for personal connections and relationships: they like to converse and share with friends and family. Others, however, use the social media site as their main source of news, content, and stories. The only thing that these disparate groups have in common is that Facebook’s algorithm changes will affect them all.
So what are these algorithm changes, and how will they affect users?
Well, the first change relates to content flexibility on newsfeeds, and, in fairness, that particular change will probably be beneficial to all users. Facebook has announced that it will be more flexible when someone on Facebook runs out of content in their Newsfeed. If a local store posted one item of content on its page, then previously Facebook didn’t allow users to see a second or third post from that store’s Facebook page within the same visit. Now, Facebook has announced it will place multiple posts from the same page source in your newsfeed, and that has to be beneficial for marketers and advertisers. The upshot of this change is users will need to do more scrolling, but the payback for businesses will hopefully be greater visibility.
So far, so good. The next two algorithm changes, however, might not be such good news for businesses. Describing its second algorithm change, Facebook said:
“The second update tries to ensure that content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it. If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed. This update tries to make the balance of content the right one for each individual person.” (sic)
Whilst that might be good news for individuals, it’s not too clever for businesses. Business interests will have to play second fiddle to personal posts. The upshot of this is that advertisers will have to come up with new and innovative ways of getting their content across to their communities. Whether they chose to do that through promoted posts, piggybacking on influencers or those with large followings, or by simply creating higher quality, more sharable content is up to them. It’s a new challenge for businesses, but one they will have to respond to if they still want to resonate with their audiences.
The final Facebook algorithm change effectively devalues interactions your ‘friends’ may have with brand pages.
“Many people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked.”
Unfortunately, the type of interaction that Facebook is now getting rid of was one which commonly helped individuals to discover new businesses. That is unlikely to happen anymore after this algorithm change, unless Facebook introduces new ways for users to come across new pages.
So how can businesses now drive more referrals and traffic to their Facebook pages? Well, the best advice from Facebook is listed in their 12 self-identified best practices tips [here] Make of that what you will.