Facebook pushes for human interaction, bad news for marketers

In an explosive start to 2018, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post what we can expect from the platform this year. The likelihood is, if you’re reading this article, you’re not gonna like it.

This update’s focus is on changing our News Feeds into a hub for conversation with family and friends, consequently reducing brand content from pages you like.

The intentions seem community-spirited enough (reducing online loneliness and increasing the meaningfulness of time spent on the platform) but you can bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be damaging to brands and publishers as we see continue to see a drop in organic reach (a problem for the past three years.)

Arguably one of the biggest updates to the algorithm for the past decade, it’s an unusual push for the platform that for years has thrived off-brand content in the form of memes, animal videos and listicles (to name a few) to drive use.

According to Zuckerberg, after seeing a dip in actual user interaction and personal accounts posting content they were inclined to act. As a platform that claims to bring people together but instead pushed them apart, this is a logical move.

In a post following the initial announcement these changes are being heralded as a means to reduce the distribution of posts on topics of “sensationalism, misinformation and polarization [of] the world today”. Facebook wants to make the platform more accessible and trustworthy, claiming these changes won’t increase or decrease news in your feed.

But why are we worried?

In a press release from Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, the upshot of this update is clear: you gotta pay to play.

While Mosseri says a brand’s content and posts will still end up in a user’s feed, without high engagement there is a lower chance of your post being seen by your audience (the people that like your page).

According to the press release, “showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

It continues “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.”

So, there’s a clear advantage for well-established brands over smaller pages trying to grow their audience. Look at it this way: if a page with millions of likes receives around two thousand comments, how will a page with one thousand likes compete when they receive two comments?

So how can we breakthrough, especially as a smaller page or publisher? $$$, and lots of it.

Money, money, money

Large companies aren’t exactly scared; they’ve got the money they can throw at Facebook’s targeted ads function. Check out the reaction some of Australia’s top publishers had regarding these updates.

For smaller pages though, there’s a clear issue. More than ever before, to break into a feed small brands and pages will need to boost posts just to arrive in the feed of people who liked the page, to begin with. As Mosseri noted, low performance has a low reach and this will prove damaging to small publishers and brands.

So, is this the death of social media agencies? Will brands be forced to find alternatives? Or, if brands and publishers will now truly be rewarded for trustworthiness, could this be a new era of the platform as a marketing tool?

For contentgroup, and many other brands working in the social sphere, these changes are already being felt in terms of organic reach.

Have you noticed any changes in your Facebook page reach and engagement?

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