Facebook has announced a number of changes to its News Feed in the past 10 days, causing some panic amongst Page owners and editors.
First, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that News Feed has made a long-expected change to its algorithm which will enable users to see more posts from their friends and family and less from businesses, brands, and media in their feed.
Those changes, introduced under the guise of increasing Facebook users’ wellbeing and encouraging more personal interactions, were followed-up in a subsequent post from Zuckerberg a week later, which announced further changes to “prioritise news that is trustworthy, informative, and local.”
Both changes will no doubt have some impact on how editors manage their Pages, but all is not lost – and the changes serve as a reminder to anyone who has previously put all their proverbial eggs into the Facebook basket.
While the effects of these changes are yet to be fully felt, the headlines of those two announcements do at least suggest that Facebook has rowed back from their original plans to divide the News Feed into two.
In late 2017, the platform was reported to be trialing a second news feed that would display posts from brands, with the main News Feed displaying posts exclusively from users’ friends and family.
That trial was never rolled-out worldwide, and the changes announced this month should at least mean that posts from friends, family and brands alike will continue to appear in a single feed, rather than users potentially having to actively call-up the second feed.
While the latest changes to Facebook’s News Feed will undoubtedly sideline some Pages’ posts, Zuckerberg’s follow-up post over the weekend did set the expectation that the presence of news contents in the News Feed would only dip slightly, stating: “we expect news to make up roughly 4% of News Feed — down from roughly 5% today.”
Encouraging users to update their News Feed settings is a really ‘quick win’ that can be promoted while you take stock of the wider affects of these changes.At the police force I work for, we created a short ‘how to’ video inspired by a similar post from Sussex Police to encourage our followers to opt to prioritise posts from our Page in their feed using the ‘see first’ feature.
The logic of those hopeful posts seems to have been indirectly supported by Facebook’s nudges to its users off the back of those recent announcements.
On logging onto the site, many users are now being encouraged to update their News Feed settings, with ‘see first’ featuring prominently amongst the suite of options available to users.
Facebook Pages owned by businesses, brands and media appear to be the target of the recent News Feed changes, although other areas of Facebook – such as Facebook Groups – may be relatively unaffected.
If used in a measured way, brands with the ability to leverage the power of online communities via Facebook Groups could regain some of the ground lost by the recent News Feed changes – particularly with Facebook now favouring more personal interactions and its stronger emphasis on local content.
Moves by Facebook to surface content from sources ‘trusted’ by its users is without doubt a positive move in the battle against click-bait and ‘fake news’.But while many brands will have built impressive followings online, many editors will now be watching from behind the sofa to see just how ‘trusted’ they are on Facebook.
And it is here where leveraging the power of influencers could play its part.
Even at a local level, engaging and capitalising on the influence held by hyperlocal communities, bloggers and community leaders could prove critical in getting your messages out within the communities serve – and, in turn, using those influencers to reaffirm your own authority online.
While Facebook is and will no doubt remain a seriously big social media player, it’s essential that brands continue to focus their efforts across a range of platforms (think email marketing, other social media and good-old media relations) – just in case Facebook changes its mind, once again.