If you see your Facebook stats drop in your social media marketing dashboard, don’t panic!
Recently, the company announced that it would make changes in its algorithm to privilege friends and family information on its news feed.
According to Adam Mosseri, VP for Product Management of Facebook,
“More than a billion people have joined Facebook, and today they share a flood of stories every day. That’s why stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends. If the ranking is off, people don’t engage and leave dissatisfied. So one of our most important jobs is getting this ranking right.”
Why can’t we be friends?
According to Mosseri, “Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family (…) To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. We learn from you and adapt over time."
Facebook’s research shows that, after friends and relatives, people have two strong expectations from the newsfeed. One is to entertain, while the other one is to inform.
“People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative”, according to Mosseri.
What does it mean for Social Media Marketing?
Despite Facebook’s statement and opinions in favor or against this new change, this is still an open book. According to Forbes, the announcement is still a bit “ambiguous” about the exact changes rolled out, and the portal Contently claims that “Facebook doesn’t announce its algorithm changes unless they’re going to have a big impact, and this one will”.
Their blog recalls how social media SEO has worked: a study from analytics company Parse.ly states that 40 percent of publisher traffic comes from Facebook.
So, is it good or bad for my company?
Some people are confident. Others fear. Forbes states that the visibility of posts made by brands and organizations, especially content publishers, is going to decrease, as this will “disrupt a number of content distribution campaigns, and makes the value of syndicating on Facebook much lower – unless you want to pay for that syndication.”
People use social media as information gatekeepers. A Pew study states that 62% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook. According to the Philadelphia Enquirer, publishers claim that they get the biggest boost from the “social media juggernaut” when individuals share stories that are compelling to them personally.
This is where the changes on Facebook get more tricky. Those who argue that the change could be beneficial for some businesses remind us that the algorithm still focuses on user activities. According to The Wall Street Journal, “given Facebook’s sway, many publishers are expanding their presence on the network, despite concerns about ceding even more power to Facebook”.
“The thing that we’re worried about is people connecting to their friends less than they want because publishers post so often", Facebook’s Mosseri said.
There are hopes
The Wall Street Journal quotes the case of LittleThings.com, a portal that publishes “feel-good” stories and gets about 75% of its traffic from Facebook. They don't fear the change. In fact, they're confident. Its representatives said that publication started to see a ”bump” in traffic earlier in June, which is attributed to the fact that “Facebook users are more likely to share the kind of inspirational content produced by the site.”
Are my visits going to fall dramatically? Or will it be possible to bump me up?
The truth is, we’ll just have to wait and see how it impacts social media SEO. In the meantime, it’s important to keep writing remarkable content that people want to read about. That is one thing that Facebook made clear. Whether or not the algorithm reduces our number of likes, or whether it helps nurture the right people, we may need to check it out in our analysis.
One thing is for sure: a good Social Media strategy (as part of Inbound Marketing, for instance) is not about simply buying ads, or even selling your product or service on what the company representatives call "a friends and family portal".
It’s about having a content strategy, informing people about what they want to hear, with a clear gameplan on what your business wants to get from a given social media platform.
Mike Dyer, president and publisher of the Daily Beast, told The Wall Street Journal that this is "a perfect example of why publishers need to be judicious in continuing to make bets that put them in control of their own destiny.”
What do you think about the recent changes to the Facebook timeline algorithm? Do you fear it will impact your social media marketing strategy? Why?