Between cries over #FakeNews and the constant barrage of spam that has become all too common, Facebook has taken some serious heat this past year, and much of it directed by helplessness some users feel about the barrage of content fed from behind the mystery of the Algorithm.
As a result, Zuck has decreed a few major changes - and Pages still playing the Organic game would be wise to pay attention.
Facebook is prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content - including Page posts
Maybe most notably for Business Page admins and posters, Facebook is now enforcing an increased insistence on prioritizing posts from friends and family over public posts from news organizations and Pages. Facebook will also favor posts that have generated the best engagement - be it Likes, Shares, or Comments from a user’s friends - to decide which posts are most worthy of that user’s attention
For small businesses, this can have pretty big ramifications on organic reach from Page posts. Moving forward, Pages should expect to have their unpaid posts reach fewer eyes, adding on to an already downward spiral in organic reach noted by some observers last year.
Business Pages should brace for organic reach to decrease even further as Facebook moves deeper into the pay-to-play realm for Pages of all sizes. This will likely be true for posts of all types, including the ame video posts Facebook was encouraging Pages to share just a few years ago.
Facebook is fighting - and actively punishing - “engagement bait”
Remember when Facebook launched their new suite of Reactions - including “Sad,” “Angry,” “Ha Ha,” and (the often-confusing “Wow”) - and the world way jumped on the bandwagon? Turns out that some Pages have taken advantage in the most spammy way possible - surprise, surprise.
You’ve probably seen one of these posts: a four-by-four of images, or a side by side, with each image attached to a specific Reaction, asking users to “vote” for their favorite choice. Kind of like this:
Yeah, that’s now a no-go. Facebook is explicitly punishing these types of posts, which they’re calling “Engagement Baiting.”
Specifically, the post above is known as “Vote Baiting.” Other types of Engagement Bait include “Like Baiting,” which outright asks users to Like posts (sometimes for a chance to win a contest), and “Share Baiting” which does essentially the same thing by asking for Shares. These posts just seem spammy right off the bat, so that’s a big N-O from Facebook from now on.
Basically, Pages should avoid these kinds of posts like the plague, because Facebook will definitely ding you if they notice posts like these ar populating your feed. In other words, this is why we can’t have nice things.
On Video: Facebook Wants To Show You The Videos You’re Most Likely to Like Already
On another new update for 2018, Facebook is changing the way they’re serving up videos - this time, to prioritize those videos that bring in guests organically, and regularly, while reducing the amount of unrelated videos a viewer is shown.
In short, Facebook is focusing on two major metrics: Intent, and Repeat Viewership. On the former, Facebook is thinking a lot harder about what a user’s Intent is when they go to watch a video, including whether or not they sought out that video or not. Videos that draw the most organic viewers, whether through the Search function or by going directly to your Page.
As for Repeat Viewership, Facebook will prioritize videos for viewers who keep coming back for more from the same source. Viewers who watch your videos week after week will be more likely to see your future videos in your feed.
These mesh pretty nicely with a few other technical changes to Facebook’s video preference as well, including new vertical videos, a move toward automatically playing videos with sound, and the “Watch and Scroll” feature that allows users to keep scrolling through their feed while a video keeps playing, tucked neatly in the top corner.
Either way, Facebook really wants to incentivize Business Pages to create engaging, regular video content and develop returning viewer bases - all in part, it seems, to compliment Facebook’s desire to take over TV as we know it. Start thinking of your video not as a one-off campaign to bring in a big boost of visibility, but as a broader content strategy to bring in a steady viewer base and boost your overall reach goals.
Facebook is starting to think that (maybe) we’re all spending too much time on Facebook
Facebook itself saying “We all might be spending a bit too much time on Facebook” might seem like some kind of logical loop, but it’s part of a very real discussion that’s been roiling the platform ever since the election of 2016.
Basically, the ‘Book is arguing that some Facebook can be a good thing - especially when it fosters engagement and builds connections between people who might otherwise not get that much real-world facetime.
However, like fine wine or the sweet taste of maple syrup, too much of a good thing can end up being bad for us overall. “Passive consumption,” or the act of reading and absorbing information without actually engaging with others in a meaningful way, can still be bad for us and for society, and anyone who’s read through a comment war on a political post or brand page knows just how ugly it can get - and how easy it can be to get drawn in.
As Business Pages move into 2018 and beyond, it’s important to remember that the platform itself is starting to encourage users to take a break and walk away for a while, and that may just inform a lot of how Facebook evolves and serves up content in the years to come.
So What’s A Business Page To Do?
As Page Admins, we like to think of our Pages as just that - “ours.” But updates and changes like these remind all of us that using Facebook is a Faustian bargain, and that the platform that has become such an integral part to the marketing strategies of many businesses is still overseen by King Zuck, and can change basically at his command.
For Businesses and Page admins looking for firm footing in this shifting landscape, here are a few actionable steps to keep your Facebook game on the up-and-up:
- It’s all about engagement. The key to keeping your posts in front of your fans is to share posts that generate likes, shares, comments, and clicks - just don’t go asking for any of those things outright. Like all great content, the reactions should come genuinely.
- Stay local. Craft posts and strategies that local fans and followers will want to share and comment on, and utilize Facebook’s Locations feature when possible to keep your users engaged at the micro-level.
- It’s time to move into video, and consistent ones at that. Craft a strategy that publishes videos fairly regularly, and keep them coming - they don’t have to be long, but they should be relevant and good.
- Don’t wait for your audience to engage with you - let your Page make the first move. Share posts by fans where your business is mentioned, and engage with likes and comments whenever fans are talking about you. When a relationship is a two-way street, fans are way more likely to notice.
- If you’re not already paying to play on Facebook, it’s time to start a paid campaign. Facebook can make money one of two ways: by charging users to log in, or by charging businesses to advertise. Paid campaigns may very well be the only way to reach fans in the not-too-distant future, so it’s best to find your footing now before Facebook forces your hand.
If things still seem confusing, you’re not alone. This is a confusing time for Facebook and for social media in general, and admins who aren’t up-to-date on the latest changes can quickly find themselves lagging behind. That’s why it’s always good to have a friend on your side who knows how to roll with the tide, because the next wave might be just around the corner.
One thing, however, is for sure: we’ll be keeping our eye out for whatever’s ahead - will you?
- Conor Snell
- Social Media & Content Strategist