What, Why, Who, How: Facebook’s User Focused Algorithm Change

There’s been a problem with your News Feed for a while. It was all business pages you didn’t like, friends you don’t have. Facebook stuffed users’ News Feeds with content they thought you’d be interested in. Having finally realised that users aren’t nuts about seeing a timeline full of Lad Bible videos, Facebook fiddled with the algorithms that create your News Feed.

What’s changed?

The focus is now on your friends. Facebook used to pop in tonnes of content from publishers that generate a lot of likes. A lot of it was based around “Your Friend Liked This” posts, an annoying feature that served only to show you how terrible your friends are. Matthew liked a post from Kasabian? Blocked.

Kasabian

Anything that gets these guys out of my feed must be good

Now, your friends get priority. If you’ve liked a load of their posts before, they’re more likely to take top billing. So if you like a load of posts from one person, they’re going show up a lot more.

Why has this changed?

In April, a few worrying stats started floating around. Apparently, users were posting far less original content. People were still liking posts, they were still sharing links, but status updates and photos were way down.

zuck and friends

I googled Zuckerberg with friends, this was first

Facebook’s USP is connecting you with friends, so it’s pretty important that those friends are posting interesting content for you to see. YouTube can do funny videos, Twitter does interesting articles. Facebook’s for friends.

Before we moan about lower organic page reach, let’s make this clear. The News Feed shift is a really good thing – for users, and business pages. It’s designed to keep people engaged. This can only be a smart move. Long term, people will keep logging into Facebook.

Who’s been affected by the change?

The biggest losers are publishers. People pushing their own, highly shareable content will see a lot lower organic reach.

buzzfeed

This stuff is rubbish, but it pays for really good writers. Don’t hate on clickbait

Think of BuzzFeed. Their business model is built on getting shares. They do this by filling Facebook with clickbait, 7 Things Only 90’s Kids Will Understand and Which Game Of Thrones Character Are You? type things. These articles get shared, they get liked, that’s how they spread.

This results in massive amounts of advertising money, through the sheer number of visits their organic reach generates. With all that advertising money, they’ve can afford to hire top journalists across the globe.

buzzfeed 2

Print papers struggle with fundraising & paywalls. BuzzFeed doesn’t

Business pages in general will be negatively affected, but organic reach was already pretty bad for smaller businesses. It’s the bigger, heavily share-focused pages that really lose out.

How should your business react to the change?

It’s all about the paid boosts. Jerry Daykin, writing in the Drum put it nicely:

“Promoted posts aren’t a tax on marketers, they’re a huge opportunity to reach well beyond a core existing audience and out to over a billion targeted consumers who can be exactly who you want them to be. Anyone fighting for an extra tiny percentage of their followers to see something should look up and see that they could be reaching 10,000 per cent with a basic media strategy.”

Why fight for a slightly higher organic reach when you can pay a small price to reach your target audience?

sponsored facebook

None of my friends promote business podcasts on Facebook

Here’s another point to consider. With less timeline real estate taken up by business pages, promoted posts should stand out more. You’re no longer competing with other companies, you’re up against users’ friends.

That should be an easier battle. Unless your business posts dozens of Snapchat dog selfies or rants about public transport, your page is offering different content.

pug sheep

I was going to put a dog selfie pic here, but I hate them. Here’s a pug instead

Play to this by promoting eye-catching content that looks nothing like the average Facebook user’s post. Sponsored video ads, promoted articles, whatever you produce that looks different, boost it.

If your business is looking to grow its Facebook reach but you’re unsure how to create a successful social media marketing campaign, we can help. Digital Media Team provide digital advertising services to businesses of all sizes, with strategy tailored specifically to your company.

Having plugged our services, it’s time to plug our social media accounts. Find us on Facebook here, or follow @digitalmediatm on Twitter.