Facebook’s New Algorithm: How Brands Can Maintain Their Presence
If you’re one of the thousands of brands that use social media as an important part of your marketing strategy, the most pressing question on your mind after recent news is likely to be, “should we be worried about the change to the Facebook ads algorithm?”
Unfortunately, if you don’t adjust your social media strategy, the answer will be “yes.” If you haven’t heard, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently announced that in 2018 Facebook, and eventually Instagram, will deprioritize social posts from brands and news outlets on user’s feeds in order to boost the visibility of posts made by real people. In other words, content that is shared by brands will be seen by significantly less people on Facebook.
“We're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” –Mark Zuckerberg
That being said, brands who use Facebook and Instagram as important parts of their business strategy can still maintain their visibility and expand their reach to targeted audiences by getting real people to create and share content for you.
Facebook’s New Algorithm Explained
So what exactly does the new Facebook algorithm mean for brands? Adam Mosseri, VP of News Feeds, states “ I expect that the amount of distribution from publishers will go down because a lot of published content is just passively consumed and not talked about.” He goes on to say, “posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to” will be prioritized.
Zuckerberg’s initial post mentioning the changes garnered thousands of comments from companies and brands, who expressed their disapproval of the choice. Naturally, they were concerned about how it would affect the way in which they reach their customers.
If branded content is less likely to appear on consumer’s social media feeds, how will brands, especially those with smaller and less established audiences, increase their reach? How will they interact with customers? Will the budget brands spend on Facebook ads go to waste?
These are all valid questions. The answer is, brands that use Facebook and Instagram to share content in the hopes of increasing their reach will need to readjust their social media strategies to avoid seeing a drastic dip in their online engagement.
How brands can maintain their visibility and reach on Facebook
The best way that brands can maintain their reach on Facebook and increase the performance of paid ads is by partnering with influencers. Influencer-generated content is authentic, engaging, and performs 8x better than branded content.
Facebook will de-prioritize “passively consumed” content, or content that does not engage an audience. Therefore, stale, branded content or the less engaging alternative, stock photos, will no longer cut it if you want to reach new markets. Partnering with influencers allows brands to source authentic content from real consumers while still giving them the ability to control the type of content and the message that is associated with their brand.
You may be thinking, “I already have an engaged audience on Facebook and Instagram. I will just encourage them to comment on my posts in order to trick the algorithm.” Unfortunately, this strategy won’t counteract the new algorithm. Facebook also announced that “engagement bait” content will also be demoted. Simply asking your existing audience to comment on your posts with trivial captions such as “comment on this post if you love puppies” will not increase the likelihood that your post will be seen by other consumers.
This means that while your content may show up on the feeds of people who already interact with your brand, you will have a hard time expanding your reach to people who do not already follow and interact with your brand.
The only ways to “trick” the algorithm and ensure that your branded content is seen in users’ feeds, are to:
1. Partner with on-brand influencers by sponsoring their posts, and
2. Increase your spending on Facebook and Instagram ads that feature influencer generated content.
Influencer generated content is engaging because it highlights real but aspirational lifestyles that cannot be duplicated in a studio. And influencers are are well-versed in creating content that is a beautifully curated version of what typically appears in users’ Facebook feeds.
Influencer content and engagement will continue to thrive on social media despite changes to the algorithm, because “influencers are, and have always been people first, and content marketers second,” says Keenan Beasley, co-founder of BLKBOX. Influencers know their audience—and they have a group of dedicated followers who constantly and organically like, comment, and share their posts. On the other hand, branded content sees lower engagement rates because it sticks out like a sore thumb when wedged between images from Facebook users’ former classmates and distant relatives, which is what they are accustomed to seeing.
Zuckerberg’s goal is to encourage reactions and engagement on social media posts. With these new changes it is even more important for advertisers and marketers who aren’t already prioritizing influencer marketing to change their approach and strategy—by investing in influencer content so that the content they share on social media is highly engaging and authentic.
What should brands do next?
1. Dive deeper into why Influencer generated content is key for Facebook ads success
Facebook ads’ targeting is so advanced that very few companies, including the largest retailers, are prepared to take full advantage of it. This blog post explains why, how Facebooks ads work, and how you can use influencer-generated content to increase your Facebook ads’ performance.
2. Identify influencers who match your target market.
Now it’s more important than ever to ensure that the influencers you collaborate with are on-brand and appeal to your target market. The right influencers will drive better results because they’ll relate more to your brand, be more apt to work with you on a long-term basis, and have a following of people who will also love your brand. Choosing influencers based solely on vanity metrics, such as follower count and engagement rate, is not an effective strategy. Read the things you should be looking for when sourcing the perfect influencers here.
The best, most sustainable influencer marketing strategy for generating engagement and ROI requires a “test and invest’ approach. After identifying 10-20 influencers, monitor which audiences respond best to your brand and which visuals get the best click thru rate and the most conversions. Based on this data, determine what works and invest in influencers and content like it. Learn more about to create a test and invest strategy here.