Facebook Calls An Audible

Victoria Langton

Category: Strategy

01.16.2018

Over the last decade, Facebook’s founder – Mark Zuckerberg – has adamantly argued that the platform is first and foremost, a place to bring people closer together. While most of us would agree that this is, in fact, why we personally use the platform, is this really the case overall?

After the much talked about 2016 algorithm change, we began to see more and more paid promotions and news post populating our feeds, and wondering why we weren’t seeing our family’s latest status updates. But now, it looks like Facebook is making an abrupt turn back to the other end of the spectrum. In 2018, the algorithm will be favoring posts from friends and family over public content and posts from publishers. According to one of the latest “Axios Media Trends” post on the topic, here’s what you should know:

  • Moving forward, Facebook will prioritize “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions” between people.
  • Pages will still remain in the News Feed, but they will likely see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.

As we saw with the launch of Facebook Live, the platform is working to move towards, or back to, a more intimate and personal experience. While for the average user this update will mean more story-telling and relatable content, brands will be forced to make major adjustments should they want to succeed in this new era of Facebook. Axios smartly highlighted 3 key areas to watch:

  • This will create a new wave of publishers and technology focused on direct-to-consumer interactions.
  • Expect artificial intelligence and chatbots to main more traction as brands and publishers try to figure out the best ways to facilitate meaningful conversation and engagement.
  • Publishers will pivot away from meaningless short-form video, because the update will weed out the publisher video from the News Feed if it doesn’t drive meaningful conversations. Expect instead for publishers to invest in quality, on-demand video on Facebook Watch.

While brands begin to scramble to adjust their social media strategies to thrive in Facebook’s new environment, the shift does provide an immediate directive to follow: start a conversation. Subsequently, brands with overt agendas and provide nothing more than clickbait will suffer. The good news? Influencer marketing will become even more powerful.

Another driver behind Facebook’s latest effort is the rising concern of social media addiction. The platform hopes that by placing more value on more meaningful content within a user’s feed, less passive scrolling will occur. Again, for brands hoping to succeed in this environment, the key will be to focus on content that communicates with people. For example, this means longer form video that elicits emotional responses and/or captivating visuals that relate to the content they’re connected to.

Although Facebook’s goal to create a more personal and genuine experience is commendable, there is also a widely held skepticism about the feasibility when factoring how these changes impact the company’s bottom line. While only time can tell, Rich Greenfield, a Media Analyst at BTIG provides telling insight into what is to come: “Zuckerberg is basically telling brands you either need to spark a meaningful, engaging conversation with your content — or spend ad dollars to reach consumers in the News Feed. It puts tremendous pressure/focus on great storytelling.”

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