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Facebook Update: Repercussions for Brands
In a landmark update announced yesterday, Facebook confirmed its latest algorithm shift will see posts from friends and family prioritised over those from brand or celebrity pages. In a statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that while this will likely mean users spend less time on the platform, time that is spent will be ultimately more “valuable”. The update is a bold, but not completely surprising move, given the criticism Facebook has faced in recent years (particularly around the US election), that it propagated and promoted that most terrible phenomenon of our age; ‘fake news’.
Zuckerberg cited feedback from users as the key driver behind the shift. “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us”, he began. “That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness. But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
The focus now, he says, is on users’ well-being, even if that means they engage less with the network. “The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed”, he said, “where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
For brands, this news may signal mild to moderate feelings of terror. Does this mean the end for pages as we know it? The answer is probably – no. Facebook has released several algorithm updates since its inception way back in 2004, all of which have presented challenges (and by ‘challenges’, we mean handing over loads of money) to brands eager for their content to reach as many users as possible.
Though it remains to be seen over the next few months, the likelihood is that while paid will continue to play a big role in brand strategy, the update will serve to sort the men from the boys, so to speak, when it comes to quality content. We’ve gone beyond super-saturation point (is that even a thing?) when it comes to the reams of mediocre content clogging up our many, many timelines. Perhaps the update will mean only the most relevant, quality pieces of content find their way onto our screens.
Brands may well be advised to post less frequently, but to ensure the pieces of content they do promote are absolutely spot-on when it comes to their target audience’s proven interests. Offering something useful will be key – so, providing consumers with information, tips or hacks, rather than bombarding them with content merely for content’s sake. Metrics will probably need to shift too, as reach is likely to shrink. That said, there’s a real opportunity for high engagement among the the existing, loyal communities brands have already built up. Ultimately, we’ll know more as the update rolls out – watch this space.