Facebook is now a key digital marketing tool for businesses across all sectors, so the upcoming changes to its algorithm is set to have a huge impact on how brands are seen on the platform. Facebook has revealed that these changes will be rolled out over the first few months of 2018, meaning that while businesses won’t see an immediate change to their Facebook stats an impact will likely be felt within the first six months of this year.
If you are unsure about the upcoming changes to the Facebook algorithm means for your business, here we’ve outlined how it will impact your Facebook marketing.
The changes Facebook is making to its algorithm
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, “One of our big focus for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent”, this mission statement is the foundation of the algorithm changes. With the updates Facebook will reduce the amount of posts seen from news sources and brands, and instead make those from users’ family and friends more prominent on their feeds. The changes will also rank posts that encourage engagement, for example starting meaningful discussions, over publicly shared content that generates little engagement.
Why Facebook is making these changes
2017 was a difficult year for Facebook, as although it remains the biggest social media platform in the world and generates the second highest revenue from digital advertising (Google is first), the controversy around ‘fake news’ and Russia’s involvement in the USA 2016 election impacted its brand’s reputation. As well as this, Facebook has seen a decline in getting young users to join the platform, many of who still prefer SnapChat. The changes Facebook is making will bring the platform back to its original purpose of connecting friends and family, along with building meaningful interactions and relationships on the platform. According to Mark Zuckerberg “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. 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.”
The updates could also be an attempt to make Facebook stand apart from Twitter. Twitter is becoming known as the key social media platform for sharing news and information, an area that Facebook had been creeping into over the last few years. This year many within the social media industry are expecting Twitter to unveil new advertising tools that will make its platform more attractive to advertisers and encourage an increase in paid social campaigns on its platform. Facebook could be looking to pre-empt this by ensuring its platform offers advertisers something different to Twitter before any new advertising initiatives are announced.
How this will impact your business
Facebook has admitted that it expects to see a drop in time spent on its platform, as well as engagement on posts. This means that businesses can expect to see a decline in impressions, reach and engagement on organic posts; in short this means that your organic posts will be seen by less users. As well as this, in the long term it means that businesses will have to change their strategy when it comes to organic posting on Facebook as it will no longer be enough to post an update but instead businesses will need to use a range of tools from live videos to group discussions to help cultivate meaningful connections and conversations on the platform. For many years the social department at affinity has advised that it is the brands that engage users and create content that will appeal to their core target audience are the ones that will see the greatest long-term success on social media and, with these changes, this will become more important than ever.
This update will also impact paid social advertising on Facebook. As it becomes more challenging to get organic posts seen by users, an increasing number of businesses will turn to paying to get posts seen. This means that businesses can except to see more competition with getting their paid posts seen, as a result paid social strategies and high level targeting will become even more important.
What you can do
Organically, engagement is key. This means you will need to create posts that encourage engagement from your followers as these will be promoted higher up users’ news feeds over those that are just passive status updates that encourage little to none engagement. For many brands this will require posting less but more meaningful content on their Facebook page. Facebook has also highlighted that business should expect to see a decrease in reach and engagement as it rolls out these new updates, this means that paid social advertising will become even more important for brands.
As organic reach decreases, paid social advertising will be one way of ensuring that your posts are seen by relevant uses, however as businesses see their organic reach decline more and more they will opt for paid promotions which means the competition to get your paid adverts seen on Facebook will become much more competitive. Simply boosting a Facebook post or page is unlikely to have the same impact as it did even a year ago, instead businesses should carryout highly targeted campaigns that ensure adverts have a high relevancy to the audience being targeted.
When setting up a paid social campaign at affinity we ensure that all adverts are highly targeted, using a range of tools and expertise to ensure that each advert is targeting the right users with the right information to be relevant to that user and therefore increase the changes of it being seen and engaged with. We use a wide range of targeting techniques with our paid social campaigns from basic demographic targeting such as income, education, location and interests, to far more sophisticating targeting such as using clients’ data to target existing customer bases and using lookalike data profiling.
As well as this, we also use in-house data analysists to ensure that all adverts are targeting the demographic most likely to engage with the advert, which not only helps increase the success rate of the advert but also benefits the brand’s organic posts as well. For example as part of an ongoing social media organic and paid campaign for one of our clients affinity targeted their key demographic which led to 6,354 sessions being driven to the website from paid social advertising and 381 sessions from organic social activity, this was an increase of over 130% in organic social sessions on the same period the previous year, as well as over 70% increase in conversions from organic social activity.
Written by Derin Clark, Content Strategist