On Jan. 11 Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would prioritize content from “family, friends and groups” in its news feed algorithm.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” wrote Zuckerberg, “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

So what does this change mean for businesses with pages on Facebook?

It’s difficult to foresee the actual impacts the change in the Facebook algorithm will have on posts, but there are ways that businesses can optimize their content to reach as much of their audience as possible in 2018.

 

Create content that produces likes, shares and comments

This should come as no surprise based on previous trends, but organic reach has been on the decline since Facebook organically displays posts in the news feeds of one percent of page followers.

In reality, Facebook uses one percent of page followers as a form of A/B split testing; the more engagement a post receives, the more likely the post is to be shown at the top of a user’s newsfeed.

“As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

There have been attempts by Pages in the past to exploit this algorithm by asking users for likes, shares and comments as a call-to-action in the caption of their posts. It’s important to keep in mind that by doing this, a Page will be flagged by the algorithm and their reach will be dramatically reduced, or in some cases it will be shadow banned.

 

Use of live videos and Facebook groups

In his update Zuckerberg recommended that Pages incorporate Facebook Live videos in their content strategy.

“For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities.”

Facebook Groups have also been used alongside Pages to foster conversations among Page followers as a way to produce engagement that follows the Facebook algorithm.

“In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events,” Zuckerberg wrote, “And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

 

“See first” option for news feed

Although the Facebook algorithm penalizes Pages for using call-to-actions in their posts to boost likes and comments, businesses shouldn’t shy away from directing audiences from following their page.

Users have the option to prioritize content that displays in their newsfeed by checking the “see first” option when following a page so that posts are fed to the top of a follower’s page.

"See first" option to accommodate changes in Facebook algorithm.

Allocating budget to paid post advertisement

This should come as no surprise, but with the move away from organic reach it’s more important than ever that businesses allocate funds to promote their posts. Fostering conversations and getting post engagement is important, but as Facebook focuses its efforts on family, friends and groups first Pages must look toward paid promotion on an increasingly “pay-to-play” platform.

Professionals believe that the cost for paid promotion on Facebook will increase in the future, marking the need for a bigger advertising budget as organic reach plummets. 

 

Recap of changes Pages need to make in their digital strategy

Facebook has slowly been transitioning from the meaningless to the meaningful, encouraging posts that foster conversation and engagement while punishing posts that fail to do this, or “hack” their way to the top of the newsfeed.

While family and friends may take priority in the new Facebook algorithm, Pages can still perform successfully by using live videos to connect with their following, utilize Facebook Groups to foster conversations and allocate more budget to promote their posts.

Zuckerberg’s announcement stems from the need to create meaningful interactions and conversations on the platform, rather than users mindlessly scrolling their newsfeeds and viewing content based on outdated algorithms that randomly display content.

Facebook is in development of a “Time Well Spent” feature to promote more meaningful engagement and time spent on the platform.

“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

What are your thoughts regarding the recent updates to the Facebook algorithm and how do you plan to adjust your digital strategy? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my latest post regarding the various algorithm updates on Instagram.