It has always been in Facebook's best interest to provide the best user experience possible, and with billions of user, this can sometimes be a challenge. To do this, their algorithm is always evolving and changing based on input from it's users. For marketers, this provides a huge challenge as the way posts are organically displayed in a users Newsfeed has changed once again.
Facebook recently published a blog titled "News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages " which explains their responsibility to provide each user with the "right mix of updates from friends and public figures, publishers, businesses and local organizations you are connected to." Many users only use Facebook for personal connections and relationships, while others use it as their main source for breaking stories, local news and content published by brands. It varies from user to user, but the most recent algorithim change will impact the way every users feed is displayed.
The first of these changes is beneficial to advertisers and marketers. It was announced that Facebook will be more flexible when a user runs out of content and stories in their Newsfeed. Previously, multiple stories and updates from a business page were not shown - if I saw one post from a local restaurant, Facebook didn't allow for second or third posts from that restaurant to be shown within the same visit. It has now changed so that Facebook will place multiple posts from the same source in your Newsfeed. Although more scrolling might be involved to get to that second or third post, this will hopefully result in more post visibility for brands and businesses.
While the above update sounds like great news for advertisers, brands and marketers, the next two updates that were announced will have marketing folks pulling out their hair - especially since the last catastrophic algorithim update that decimated organic reach for brand and business pages last year.
According to a widely cited study from Social@Oglivy, organic reach dropped from approximately 12% to 6% due to last years algorithm change, and lately brand are seeing organic reach as low as 1%! Brands who have invested time and money into ads that bring users to their page to "Like" or "Follow" them on Facebook now feel like all that effort was a waste. What's even more interesting is that average organic page reach and Facebook, Inc. stock price are inversely proportational to each other. Brands are paying more and more to Facebook so their posts can be seen in their target demographics' news feed, and this is making Facebook shareholders a great deal of money.
As for the most recent algorithm updates, Facebook said the following regarding posts from friends versus pages:
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.
If you are in the marketing profession and are not yet banging your head against your desk, I applaud you... Marketers are just going to think of new, creative ways for your content to reach your community, and more often than not this leads to using "boosted posts" or ads that businesses have to pay for. There are other options like reaching out to industry influencer's and users with large followings, creating higher quality content and images, and producing content that engages your fans and is extremely share-able.
The final update that was announced was that Facebook is devaluing the interactions your friends have with brand pages. In Facebook's blog post, they explain:
Lastly, 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.
This used to be a very valuable feature for new users to become fans of brand pages as it was very apparent that "your friend commented on [local business name] post." This will no longer be happening as frequently as it was. Facebook is now going to show these interactions far down in your Newsfeed, if at all. One can only hope that Facebook will introduce new ways for you and your friends to find new brand and business pages to like or follow, but as of this week, social media marketers are once again greatly affected by these updates..
If you have any techniques that you use to counter these algorithm changes, I'd love to hear about them! What kind of results have you seen in terms of your organic reach for your posts? Feel free to leave us a comment below and let us know how your brand or business is faring since any of the above changes have been enacted.
Written by Andrew Wasyluk. Andrew is a social media specialist at Page1Solutions.