When you’re using Facebook for fun, you may wish that everything would disappear except stuff that you really care about, like posts from your friends and a few tidbits from pages you follow. Facebook is setting out to do just that in 2018, and it’s going to seriously diminish organic reach for your small business’s Facebook page. Here’s what’s going on, what it will mean, and what you can do to keep your small business thriving socially.
Late last year, Facebook began testing a new setup for their newsfeed in six different countries that would drastically change the organic reach of a business page’s posts. Rather than one feed being comprised of ads, posts from friends, shared pages, liked pages, videos, and other miscellaneous content, Facebook split the newsfeed into two parts. The first feed cradles content from family, friends, and paid advertising; the second holds the content of all the pages the user likes/follows and the top content from across Facebook. The second feed is called the “Explore” newsfeed and is the no man’s land your business’s organic posts are about to be cast into.
This change would appear to tie back to Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 resolution to ‘fix’ Facebook by clearing the newsfeeds of material that doesn’t encourage positive social interaction.
What it Means
We know that the value of business pages’ organic posts has been going down for a while now. In fact, it’s estimated that out of every 100 people that like your page, only two to five of them will see one of your posts. With the addition of a split newsfeed, these numbers will continue to drop further because even people who like your page will not see your posts on their normal feed. Even pages shared by your friends won’t show up unless the new Facebook algorithm decides they’re meaningful and promote positive social interaction.
That change comes directly from Zuckerberg: “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.” From now on, the company will be prioritizing posts based on the amount of worthwhile discussion they generate and lowering the ranking (by up to 5X) on videos, articles, and other passively consumed material.
Oh, except the ads. The crusade for the promotion of only that which is beautiful and good seems to peter out when it comes to paid advertising. (Shocking, I know). The difference that the split newsfeed will bring to ads is the price. Less organic posts, articles, and videos means less total content and less real estate to work with for ads. Additionally, the decrease in organic advertising will almost certainly increase the demand for paid ad slots. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what happens when there’s a massive demand and an extremely limited supply.
What You Can Do
We know these changes may take Facebook a while to roll out, but it’s worth preparing for. Here’s what you can do to get ahead of the curve, plus what actions you should be ready to take when the newsfeed splits:
- DO NOT use engagement baiting tactics! If you haven’t heard already, Facebook is demoting posts that goad people into interacting. All those “Like if you hate cancer,” “Share if you’re a Scorpius,” and even, “Comment for a chance to win a coupon,” posts are taking a serious hit to their ranking.
- Work on building social engagement now. Without engagement-baiting, experiment with what kind of content creates the best social interactions. Anything that results in longer comments and more conversation is good. Encourage people to share stories and insights on your posts.
- Be prepared to abandon video content. Currently, Facebook Live videos and other videos are doing well socially. In fact, while other kinds of posts were declining, social engagement for videos actually increased 10%! So video is great for now–use it! But if and when Facebook starts deranking videos, it’s a good idea to have other socially engaging content in your back pocket ready to bring to the party.
- Consider budgeting more money toward ad spend and boosting your posts. It’s possible that there will be no other dependable way to get traction for your business (especially if you were using organic posts to bring traffic to your website) other than to spend a bit more on your ads and boost your posts to get them into the new “normal” newsfeed.
- Encourage your biggest fans to set your page as “See First.” Though there’s not a lot of information on it yet, it looks like when the newsfeed splits, fans who formerly liked your page could still see your posts on the updated newsfeed if they change their following setting for the page to “See first.” But remember, do not bait them to do this!
- Give thought to branching out. There are other fish in the sea, after all. If you’re just using Facebook and aren’t using any platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram for your business, now could be the time to spread your wings and tweet your way to social recognition!