Facebook’s News Feed overhaul changes the game for communicators

After some intense soul-searching, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced sweeping changes to Facebook’s News Feed to respond to accusations that the company is responsible for the proliferation of misleading news and misinformation for millions of its users.

In announcing these changes, Zuckerberg said:  “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” Zuckerberg defined meaningful social interactions as content that “starts conversations among people” and said that users can expect to see “more from your friends, family and groups” while also seeing “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

Here’s what this means for companies who use Facebook to communicate with stakeholders:

1. The changes inevitably will have an impact on a significant number of communicators. Facebook has communicated to some advertising agencies that these updates will not affect the ad algorithm (for now). Industry analysts expect increased competition for inventory, which could result in higher media costs.

Takeaway: If Facebook is an integral part of your communication strategy, revisit your approach and plan to use Facebook ads – rather than organic content – for awareness and promotion.

 

2. These changes will have less of an impact on some Pages and more on others. It will not be evident whose Pages are affected until KPIs like reach, video watch time and referral traffic begin to suffer.

Takeaway: Communicators need to proactively analyze (and in some cases revisit) “who” their audiences are and what types of content resonate with them. This data should be the underpinning for all messages created for Facebook.

 

3. Zuckerberg made a point to mention that interactions for Live video are significantly higher than those for pre-recorded video. Facebook now considers branded pre-recorded video, along with news and Page updates, to be “passive” entertainment. As these new changes roll out, communicators should expect their pre-recorded video content to be made less visible.

Takeaway: Communicators will need to replace plans for pre-recorded video and come up with ideas for Live video content that engages their audiences.

 

4. Communicators cannot get around these changes by using “engagement-bait” (which includes clickbait headlines and copy that tells people to comment/like/share the post).

Takeaway: There will not be an “easy fix” to avoid these updates. For many, it will require a fundamental change in approach to content strategy.