What Facebook’s revamped News Feed means for PR pros and marketers

The social platform announced it will prioritize shares from friends and family over news content from publishers. How will the changes affect content strategy and other PR efforts?

Facebook is dropping the hammer—and brand managers are feeling it.

As the biggest social media platform, with over 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook has been a top priority for investment by content marketers and PR agencies looking to meet their audience where it spends the most time online.

However, big changes are coming, and they could have companies reevaluating their strategies.

The BBC reported:

Facebook is to change how its news feed works, making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent.

Organisations on Facebook may see the popularity of their posts decrease as a result, the firm acknowledged.

The changes will take effect over the coming weeks.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced the changes in a Facebook post, claiming that the move would make user’s News Feeds “more meaningful.”

He wrote:

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

He noted that these changes are part of other refinements the Facebook team has been making over the past year, including penalizing engagement bait and encouraging users to join groups.

He continued:

The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

Zuckerberg also admitted Facebook as a whole will see a drop in some measures of engagement.

He concluded:

Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.

What does the change mean for content creators and brand managers who have relied on Facebook to build a loyal following?

Buzzfeed, itself a publisher that has invested heavily in Facebook, wrote:

Facebook put a lot of effort into wooing publishers and brands to its platform. And publishers and brands put a lot of effort into being there. But in the end, Facebook didn’t get all that it wanted out of them. Sensationalized, partisan or flat out bogus news stories mislead people. Branded content made people reticent to post their dirty-mirror bathroom selfie when for fear it would end up adjacent to a professionally shot video with a $3 million budget. Meanwhile, passive consumption of articles and videos made them just feel bad.

Here are four ways content marketers and brand managers can adjust their strategy to keep abreast of the changes coming to Facebook:

1. Encourage discussion and debate.

In Facebook’s new algorithm, posts with comments and debate from friends will get more play in the News Feed than posts that have a larger number of “shares.”

Buzzfeed wrote:

Shares have long been viewed as the thing that made posts go viral on Facebook, but now comments appear poised take their place. With this update, Facebook is prioritizing posts in the News Feed that get people talking to each other in the comments. That puts comments, or more specifically comment threads, in position to become the new share.

2. Couple Facebook with other PR efforts.

Facebook wants to be the place where live events are discussed. By creating other content outside Facebook and then providing a place to discuss that content on Facebook, brand managers should see their efforts rewarded.

TechCrunch wrote:

In our conversation, [VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri] cited Oprah’s recent Golden Globes speech as content that would fare better in the revamped feed. Live videos generating discussion, star social media creators, celebrities, Groups posts, local business events, and trusted news sources are other types of content that should get a boost.

3. Ditch passive video.

Facebook concedes that the change will hurt publishers who have come to rely on video “quick hits” that users scroll through.

TechCrunch reported:

The biggest losers will be publishers who’ve shifted resources to invest in eye-catching pre-recorded social videos, because Mosseri says “video is such a passive experience”. He admits that he expects publishers to react with “a certain amount of scrutiny and anxiety”, but didn’t have many concrete answers about how publishers should scramble to react beyond “experimenting . . . and seeing…what content gets more comments, more likes, more reshares.”

Although Facebook has few concrete answers for how publishers should move forward, it has been unequivocal in stating that keeping strategy stagnant would be a bad choice.

4. Create content that builds community.

Facebook’s stated purpose of its recalibration is to bring people together.

TechCrunch continued:

“Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years” Zuckerberg writes. “Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”

How will you be changing your Facebook strategy, Ragan/PR Daily readers?


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