Facebook has become one of the most powerful websites in the world. For marketers, it may even be the most powerful website. Not only does Facebook have 1.6 billion users, but between January and February of this year, Facebook was responsible for 41.4 percent of the referral traffic for news websites, according to data compiled by Statista. Meanwhile, Google sites were responsible for only 39.5 percent of the referral traffic.
image source: https://www.statista.com/chart/5143/referral-sources-for-online-publishers/
Therefore, marketers must hone their strategies for reaching audiences on Facebook as carefully as they craft their strategies for search engine optimization. And just like Google, Facebook makes it hard for them by constantly updating its algorithm for what it displays in the news feed — the primary way that users interact with content on the site. Every time Facebook makes a change to its algorithm, there can be serious consequences for publishers in terms of the traffic they get to their sites, the way they monetize pages and more.
Here’s what you need to know about the Facebook algorithm change announced at the end of June:
Greater Focus on Friends and Family
Facebook announced that it will start prioritizing content in users’ news feeds that is shared by their friends and family. Meanwhile, it will minimize the content shared by brands and media outlets. That means that you are more likely to see your aunt’s update about her gallbladder surgery than you are to see the New York Times article about the latest presidential debate.
For some, that’s great news. Facebook said that many of its users were concerned that they weren’t getting the updates from friends and family that they cared about the most. For others, that’s bad news. Not all of us want to know the stream of consciousness of our teen cousin who posts compulsively about everything from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to the latest high-school drama. For brands, it’s really bad news. They have already seen a decline in the exposure they get with their audiences, and now they are guaranteed to get even less.
Types of Content
Facebook has said that the new algorithm change will apply to all types of content, and the changes have already been implemented. That means that you are going to get less exposure for your Facebook content whether you write a simple text update or you share a photo, video or link. The fact that the update is coming from your brand page means that it will not be shown in the news feed as frequently.
The only exception to this rule is if one of your users miraculously sees your content and then decides to share it. That person’s update will appear in the news feeds of their friends and family. The trouble is getting your users to see that update in the first place. This also means that you need to focus on sharing more of your own original content rather than curating content. If someone sees an article you share from the New York Times and then shares it, that won’t get you any more exposure. It will just help the Times. However, if someone shares an article from your site, that will be your name out there.
What to Do
Some have cynically declared that the latest changes from Facebook are less about creating a better user experience and more about increasing revenue from sponsored posts and brand ads. Remember when those sponsored posts were first introduced and your appearance in the news feed started going down? Expect that to happen even more. You can increase your ad budget to get the exposure you need. You can buy ads for your website, your Facebook page, or for individual posts. Just make sure that you target these ads carefully so that you are getting real interaction from the audience you want — not just artificial likes that lead nowhere.
It is also important that you focus more on user engagement. If your followers truly enjoy your content, they will go to your page to see what you are sharing. Make sure that you have content waiting for them that makes them feel engaged and ready to share. Past studies have shown that users are most likely to share content that affirms their values and helps them to curate a public image. Make sure you are sharing content that not only reflects your brand’s values but that also reflects the values of your target audience.
Finally, use tools like CodeFuel to help you increase engagement and gain exposure with the right content placement. You can share content that is listed on Facebook, such as Facebook Instant Articles, and you can share contests and other engaging content on the site. Our tools make sure you get the right content in front of the right audiences at the right times.