It’s already begun, but over the next few weeks, Facebook will continue to tweak how their algorithms run, pivoting the news feed wall towards more meaningful interactions with friends and family members. Previously, the news feed feature had been dominated by paid content from businesses and brands. The reason for Facebook’s about-face can be traced back to academic research which has concluded that social media interactions are only good for individuals’ well-being if they are actually interacting and engaging with others (The Guardian).
Passive viewing, or rather the “time suck” that Facebook has become, has negated the communal and healthy approach that the platform was initially created for. Facebook is looking to revitalize organic content, which will only come from those who are not continually sharing re-hashed content from around the web and are posting about their own lives. With this said, it means that businesses are going to have a slightly harder time in promoting themselves.
What these changes will do to businesses
To start, the new changes will see all branded content, business page feeds, and ads as being relegated to an “Explore” feed which is located on the left-hand menus of both the mobile application and the desktop version (Small Biz Trends). In addition, the news feed will be limited to mostly original posts by friends and family members, with businesses being able to get into that space only via engaging live videos and posts that support other discussions. Companies may also still be able to get into the limited space through sponsored ads.
Specifically speaking, the new changes will hit small businesses the hardest, as it will take much more capital to reach their target audiences, and more money will need to be directed to brand promotion. Those businesses who rely solely on Facebook for website traffic may find their visitor metrics plummeting because the new algorithms will make it much harder to get content noticed through organic sharing alone.
For brands that rely on the spreading of information through their original content such as blog articles and videos, it may prove more challenging to funnel new followers into their audience. This means that these companies may be forced to carve out larger budgets for ad campaigns and sponsored content if they want to continue to benefit from Facebook’s dominant position in social media.
So, this is bad news, right?
Wrong. All in all, the new algorithm changes on Facebook aren’t a bad thing. Although it means businesses will need to get creative in finding new ways to boost their brand engagement on Facebook through discussions, boosted posts (ads and sponsored content), Facebook Groups, and customer success, in the end, it will serve to create a better user experience.
Now, rather than simply focusing on how many people can be reached per dollar, businesses will need to focus on creating supportive and happy online communities where members will want to share their recommendations and experiences with others.
After all, that is what social media enables, word-of-mouth networking. It is important to remember that even though these changes will most likely affect businesses negatively in the short term, the playing field has been re-leveled. There are now new opportunities for companies to build active and engaged communities, which will help brands cultivate genuine and long-standing relationships with their customers.