Facebook Algorithm Changes: What They Mean for Your Small Business
15 Dec 2013
With so many questions being asked, I’ve compiled the ultimate FAQ to explain the details and help you find the right path heading forward.
So what’s going on with Facebook?
First, Facebook announced that it’s one again changing the algorithm that determines which content is most prominently displayed in the newsfeeds of individual users. Facebook is placing more emphasis on “high quality content” and they’re judging what is “high quality content” based on the fact that users are showing a stronger preference for links to articles, especially articles focusing on current events, favorite sports teams or shared interests or the latest meme.
If that wasn’t enough, Facebook admitted days later that the organic (non-paid) reach of many of its pages, including business fan pages, would likely decline and that this trend is likely to continue over time. And according to Ad Age, Facebook is being more aggressive in pitching Facebook advertising as a way to “maximize delivery of your message in the news feed.”
How does the new algorithm affect my fan page posts?
It’s going to make it more difficult for your business’s posts to earn favorable, highly visible real estate in the newsfeed, since the new algorithm favors content that’s not typically included in business fan page posts. Simply put, it’s going to make it less likely that your existing fans see your posts.
Should I consider Facebook advertising?
I would say, “yes.” Over the past few months, I’ve been urging an increasing number of clients to advertise on Facebook, especially if they’re new to the medium and need to build their audience of fans. As Facebook becomes more popular and saturated, standing out from the crowd is becoming more and more difficult, and it’s amazing what a few extra dollars will do extend your reach and engage the exact users you want to target. Our company plans to experiment with boosted posts for our clients and we’ll keep you informed of the results.
I don’t want to advertise. Can my business still succeed on Facebook?
YES…because content is king. If you consistently post engaging content that people share, like and comment on, your business can still do very well on Facebook. But here’s the challenge: Competition for prime news feed positioning has never been higher. To engage the individual user, you are competing against pictures of adorable children, posts about fun vacations and even off-color humor, which is not the easiest space for a brand to penetrate. That’s why I continue to encourage businesses to showcase the people behind their brand, so that they can tap into the fun and light-hearted content that makes Facebook so fun. (You could also consider changing your business’s name to “Kittens, Puppies and Kids, Incorporated.” LOL!)
I’ve been frustrated with my results on Facebook for a while. Should I drop it in light of these new developments?
This depends on your individual circumstances, but I would recommend a “wait and see” approach because we don’t yet know the exact extent to which these changes will impact your reach. If you’ve worked hard to build a Facebook audience, it doesn’t much sense to simply abandon them.
But the truth is, social media is constantly changing and it would be foolish not to adjust your marketing efforts in favor of channels that are giving you the best ROI on your time and money. Keep monitoring the situation and, if your Facebook reach continues to decrease, shift more of your attention to a social channel that has traction or a new social channel that has a greater opportunity to succeed for your business. Social media channels are still very powerful promotional tools with growing audiences. If Facebook isn’t the right fit for your business, I would recommend shifting your resources to another channel rather than abandoning social altogether.
I’ll cover this topic in-depth next week, including insight from a colleague who’s also asking this question.