As we moved into 2018, Facebook made significant announcements around Facebook algorithm, engagement and authenticity. After reviewing hundreds of thousands of posts, Facebook shared two core changes that will impact brand pages globally:
- Posts that encourage “engagement bait”, such as “LIKE this if you love kombucha!” or “SHARE if you’re a Virgo!” will be demoted within newsfeeds. Pages that frequently and repeatedly use engagement bait will be demoted within newsfeeds
- Posts from Pages will be seen less frequently. Instead, posts from your friends, family and connections on Facebook will be given priority over publishers, businesses and celebrities.
What does this Facebook Algorithm change mean for brands?
- News posts will now make up 4% of the newsfeed, down from 5% in 2017
- Facebook will be prioritizing news sources deemed trustworthy in the United States, and expand internationally after initial testing phases
- Publishers and brand pages with low trustworthy scores will see a drop in their organic distribution across Facebook
- Brands will need to revisit their organic engagement strategy on Facebook, determining what resonates with their audience, and what doesn’t
- Brands will need to consider impacts to their pages, such as decreased engagement on organic posts
Algorithm Change #1 Engagement Bait
We are supportive of these changes to Facebook as it relates to Engagement Bait. This algorithm change forces brands and businesses to strategically consider more authentic means of engagement around posts on the network, instead of relying on “Like This!” or “Share This!”
Facebook has a machine learning model that will identify engagement bait by feeding it posts categorized as bait or not. Now, the News Feed algorithm will demote posts that use engagement bait. It will also begin to more strictly demote Pages that repeatedly use such bait to artificially boost their reach.
Types of posts that will not be impacted by demotion include posts that ask for advice or recommendations, circulations of missing child reports or money raising efforts.
Algorithm Change #2 Move to more personal newsfeeds
We understand the move that Zuckerberg and his team are making. Based on feedback from Facebook users, the network is pivoting toward once again becoming the model of-old, the model it was built on – engagement with your own personal community and the strengthening of relationships online.
Zuckerberg has shared that he expects time spent on Facebook and some measures of engagement to decrease, though value on the network to increase from that of a personal perspective.
With that said, the way in which brands post and engage with their audience will need to be strategically adapted to these changes.
Who will it impact?
Engagement Bait will impact all businesses and news publications on Facebook. If your brand uses engagement strategies like “LIKE this” or “SHARE this”, it’s time to remove this from your posting vocabulary. Should you continue with this strategy, you will risk a long-term, significant impact on your organic engagement on Facebook.
We expect that the decrease of news and business posts on Facebook and increase of personal posts will impact news publications in the United States exclusively, effective immediately. We do expect that it will roll out to all business pages throughout 2018, regardless of industry and location. Our research has led us to believe that Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal with this change is to address fake news within newsfeeds. This move will help protect Facebook users against fake influence on the network. News posts will decrease from a news feed percentage of 5% to 4%, and Facebook will prioritize news sources deemed trustworthy. The level of trustworthiness will be collected through data that Facebook users will provide; soon, within your own newsfeeds, you will see requests to complete surveys about the news sources you trust on Facebook, and which ones you don’t.
Though the roll-out will begin with news publications, anticipation of continuation to all brand pages should be expected. The algorithm change will impact organic posts in such a way that paid social will become even more of a focus for brands on Facebook.
There has been no mention to-date as to whether or not paid media on this network will be impacted.
Facebook’s overall goal with this change is to improve overall experience and sentiment on the network, starting with news publications.
Here’s how you can prepare.
Strategic posting strategies are essential to your success
- Each and every post on Facebook must now be strategically considered – how does it fit into the larger picture? Is the targeting of users accurate to the post’s copy and imagery? Is this post share-worthy for your target audience? With Facebook users now being surveyed about the level of trustworthiness as it relates to news publications, it’s only a matter of time until the same survey is released for businesses.
Focus on 1:1 engagement
- Are you engaging with your audience as they respond to your organic posts? 1:1 engagement is essential in boosting your own engagement rates and connecting with your audience.
Consider your influencer marketing strategy
- It’s time to review your influencer marketing outreach strategy. It is unknown at this time whether Facebook will begin to regulate influencers and treat their organic content in the same way as businesses. Time will tell, though brands should certainly consider influencer marketing outreach in 2018.
Paid strategy is more important than ever
- If nothing else, these algorithm changes surely keep our eyes open to the importance of a paid strategy alongside organic engagement. The engagement bait algorithm change is sure to impact paid advertising, as Facebook is increasingly focused on the quality of ads within the network. Consider re-visiting your strategy around paid advertising as it supports your organic engagement.