The News Feed Change

By now you’ve probably heard that Facebook is making another change to its precious News Feed. The social networking company announced in January that it would start to prioritize posts from friends and family over those from brands and companies. According to Recode, “The move is designed to encourage people to interact more with the stuff that they actually do see. The thinking is that you’re probably more likely to comment and discuss a post shared from a family member than one shared by a business you follow.”

Mark Zuckerberg explained that the move came after many users complained that posts from their personal connections were being crowded out by public content from brands, businesses, and media. He also said that the public content you do see will look different. There will be fewer videos and less content, and the stuff that does make it through will be of the sort that encourages interaction.

The change is meant to improve user well-being by helping people connect. Zuckerberg wants people to have fun and feel good about using the social network. In the end, he warned that he expects people will spend less time on Facebook, but the time they do spend will have more value.

The Impact on Business

The change in Facebook’s News Feed is going to impact business in three ways. On the one hand, Facebook will no longer provide the same level of traffic as it once did — and that is going to impact companies that have been using organic marketing. Recode explains, “Facebook is very clearly telling these businesses their content won’t spread as far, and many publishers spend lots of time and resources creating stuff intended to do just that.” Brands like the New York Post, Newsweek, MSN, and Seeking Alpha have seen big increases in traffic from pursuing a more connective strategy, while bait-type sites are losing out. Point in case, traffic at the once viral Mashable is down nearly 87 percent.

On the other hand, the fewer time people spend on Facebook, the less exposure they will have to ads and sponsored content. Finally, the content that does surpass the new algorithm will be held to a higher quality standard than ever before.

Facebook Pages will still be a part of the Facebook ecosystem but the focus is changing. “The news feed will shift the focus from ranking content that’s directly consumed from pages (which will shrink in reach) to content that is shared and talked about among friends (which will grow),” explains Social Media Examiner – and the standards are high.

Ranking Higher

Gone are the days of using engagement bait to get people to comment on your posts. Content that isn’t considered “meaningful” could get your Facebook Page demoted in a reader’s News Feed. A one-word comment, a share without comment or a “Like” won’t count for much either and could work against your interests. Instead, if you want to rank higher in the new Facebook News Feed, you will need to create content that either generates long comments or compiles multiple shares and comments between friends.

Then, there are communities. “Social platforms can and will change the rules whenever they want,” Social Media Examiner founder, Mike Stelzner, stated. “If you’re not developing deep communities on Facebook, and you’re not prepared for change, this could have a huge, negative financial impact.” You can work on developing a community around your company’s Facebook page by demonstrating how your followers can see your content first, using more live video and focusing on educating your followers about how to do something. Each of these methods will help you increase your ranking.

But, there is another way.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups will actually start receiving more distribution in the new News Feed because they do inspire conversation and interaction. Group members are able to benefit from audience participation, sharing ideas and best practices with or without brand involvement. Companies pursuing the “group” strategy can use Facebook’s Group Insights to examine group interaction much the same way they can look at page interactions but it goes deeper, showing when group members are most active and who posts most. In turn, you can use this to create a publishing strategy — and it can be very effective.

More than one billion people use Facebook Groups and around 100 million of them see Groups as an important part of the Facebook experience. Facebook Groups let companies build communities around a specific subject so that they can create engagement around a single topic, product, or lifestyle choice.

Bike brand Peloton is a good example. The company has more than 341,000 likes on its page, but it also has a Facebook Group with over 68,000 members. In the past 30 days, it has generated almost 10,600 posts with more than 1,700 in the past 24 hours. The Instant Pot Community is even more impressive, with over 1.2 million members, given that its Facebook page has just 112,226 members.

Takeaway

With Facebook’s new push towards authentic and meaningful interactions amongst users, all organizations will have to embrace new ways of reaching Facebook users organically. Facebook Groups is a perfect way to do this. Not only will Group content enjoy more priority in the new News Feed, but Facebook Groups can and do interact without pushing from the group creator. Build a group for your organization and see what sort of insights you can collect. Over time, you could create a publishing strategy that gives you even more organic reach than you had before the shift.