Facebook 2018 Algorithm Update

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It’s a new year, and for Facebook there’s a new algorithm.

Before we dive into what this means for businesses using the most popular social channel, we’ll first touch on what an ‘algorithm’ actually is in the world of social media.

An algorithm is defined as a set of rules to be followed when calculating an operation. In social media an algorithm decides what order posts are shown in on our news feeds based on what ‘rules’ the algorithm instructs. Instead of seeing posts in order of time published, an algorithm can instruct posts to show in a different order, for example by relevancy.

However, algorithms are constantly changing, and what each social channel defines as ‘relevant’ also changes. 2018 has already seen a major change for Facebook’s algorithm and we’ll soon start to notice its changes.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, announced that the platform will soon start to favour our family and friends posts over business page posts on our newsfeed. Zuckerberg stated that he wanted Facebook to prioritise ‘meaningful social interactions’ over ‘relevant (business) content’. The Facebook founder admitted that this may mean people in fact spend less time on the platform, but it will be a case of quality over quantity. The announcement claims this is being done because of a concern for the “well-being and happiness” of Facebook users, but the outlook may not be so positive for businesses who, until now, have relied on the platform for organic reach.

 

So what does this mean for businesses?

Engaging and entertaining content has always been the way to capture an audience, but no longer will content be King as paid adverts will override organic business page content. ‘Engagement baiting’ will also be penalised, meaning posts from people or Pages prompting fans to like, share or comment to gain high levels of engagement will be demoted meaning their reach will decrease even further.

The reality is the new algorithm will make it very difficult for Page owners to reach their customers on Facebook without spending money on paid adverts and boosted posts. Although paid advert budgets are flexible, it has been suggested that in order to reach a substantial audience a considerable amount of money may need to be spent, and this is only going to increase.

This begs the question, is this algorithm change truly about enhancing our wellbeing or is it a simply a method of encouraging businesses to spend more on their Facebook advertising? We’ll let you decide that for yourselves.

 

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What can businesses do to overcome the issues the algorithm brings?

The announcement made it quite clear that standard business posts may go unnoticed now, so companies will need to be creative to find ways around this. The ultimate way to get noticed now is to invest money in paid adverts, but if budget is tight there are a few other suggestions. One of these is to use the Facebook Live and Facebook Stories features. Both could offer businesses a chance for a prominent position on the newsfeed, so it is expected the use of these features will rise as the new algorithm is implemented.

It is important for brands to take a look at what works for them and consider their overall social strategy. If you don’t have an advertising budget, it may well be time to invest your efforts in other social channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn.  Remember that offline experiences also translate to the online world. If customers have a good experience offline, they may take it online and become brand ambassadors to their friends and family.

It isn’t all bad news. Along with the new algorithm change, Facebook also announced some new features which slightly soften the blow for us content creators. Facebook Sound Collection offers a new audio library for anyone to use in their videos on the channel, meaning it will be easier to create engaging, entertaining video content. Video may still be the best chance of engagement and tools like the Facebook Sound Collection will be useful for video creators. New features for Facebook Stories were also announced, including the introduction of Facebook Stories for Events and Facebook Stories on desktop. These both open up new opportunities for businesses to grab the attention of their audiences in creative ways. All of these options are worth exploring to understand what works best for your business.

Although Facebook advertising requires budget, it does allow precise targeting so if done correctly should return worthwhile results. As well as boosting posts on the newsfeed, Facebook Ads Manager allows business to create adverts with detailed targeting enabling businesses to reach a very defined audience. Ads Manager also allows the Facebook pixel to be installed on websites for better reporting and monitoring, as well as re-marketing adverts to target people who have previously visited a website with detailed product tracking.

As with all forms of marketing, Facebook is now very budget driven. Results will depend on the amount of time and money brands want to invest on the platform as the days of organic reach are truly over.

If you would like to chat about your social strategy you can get in touch with us here.