Facebook algorithm is changing in 2018: companies need to become more social
Because of all the negative news about the Facebook data breach, you could almost forget that Mark Zuckerberg came with an important announcement in January. Facebook wants to focus more on meaningful social interactions in 2018. Why does Facebook do this and what does this mean for companies?
Research that Facebook has done in collaboration with universities shows that if we use social media to stay in contact with people we care about, we feel more connected and less lonely. So, in the long term, social interaction on platforms such as Facebook contributes to people’s happiness and well-being. On the other hand, the research shows that passively reading articles or watching videos (even though they are entertaining or informative) contribute less to this.
Users have been complaining a long time that the news feed is full of messages from media and companies. Facebook is shifting the focus and will no longer try to help you find relevant content, but involve you more in social interaction. The time you spend on Facebook should be well spent, even if it means spending less time on the platform, says Mark Zuckerberg.
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What do these changes mean for my business?
Facebook realizes that it has to go back to the basics: connecting people. The algorithm will be adjusted in the coming months so that messages from family, friends and groups appear more often in the timeline. As you can imagine, this will certainly have an impact on companies:
Companies must look for interaction: companies have been working for years to become more transparent and engage in conversation with their customers via social media channels. Because of the Facebook changes, companies are being challenged, more than ever, to be more personal and to really get in touch with (potential) customers. It’s no longer enough to bombard Facebook with communications. Companies must identify subgroups and address them in different ways.
Lower organic reach: in recent years, the organic reach of Facebook pages has declined further and further. This will only decline further as a result of the new adjustments to the timeline. Unless your messages provide a lot of social interaction, your content won’t or will barely end up in users' timelines. In addition, Facebook will report the coverage in a different way. Previously, Facebook looked at the number of times your message was placed in the news feed. Now they only count the message if it was visible on the screen of the user.
Paid advertising is no longer optional: through Facebook, companies had free means for a long time to get their message to their target audience. But now that the organic reach of business pages is declining, more and more companies will realise that you have to pay Facebook to reach your target audience. We can see this as a problem, but actually Facebook is just more like other advertising channels now. We don’t expect a newspaper or search engine to show our message for free.
Besides, paid advertising also has many advantages. With organic reach you don’t know if you reach the right target group, while you can use the advanced targeting possibilities in advertisements. Due to the increased competition, advertising costs will rise, but this is also part of a platform maturing.
What not to do
We can learn a lot from the developments in search engine optimization (SEO). In the beginning there were several tricks to get a larger organic reach and a higher ranking. Ultimately, Google’s algorithm has become so smart that the focus has returned to making a website that is technically good, fast and safe and where quality content can be found.
In recent years, many tricks have been used on Facebook to promote content. But Facebook’s algorithm has become smarter and can now better assess whether content provides real social interaction, or whether it falls into the clickbait category. Facebook wants to put an end to the following practices:
- Vote baiting: messages calling people to vote. Naturally, a poll is allowed.
- React baiting: messages that invite people to respond through the different like possibilities.
- Share baiting: calls as "share this message and win".
- Tag baiting: messages calling people to tag someone.
- Comment baiting: messages that invite people to respond with a certain word in order to get more reactions.
How do I get more interaction on my Facebook page?
It’s clear that Facebook strives for a timeline with more social interactions, and cheap tricks no longer work. But how do you, as a company, ensure that your content creates interaction? And how do you best respond to these changes?
- Focus on comments instead of likes and shares: it's always fun to get likes and shares, but within the new system they've become a lot less important. Don’t ask yes/no questions but try to start meaningful conversations. Do not ask "Do you want to go to Tuscany this year?" But rather ask a question like "Which Tuscany highlights should you see? What is your top tip?". To get more interaction you can also put customers in the spotlight: "Arie has just bought a brand new Mercedes SLS. Would you like to welcome him and share your experiences with this beautiful vehicle?" This way, you encourage your followers to share advice and experiences in the comments.
- Use Facebook groups: in addition to messages from your family and friends, messages from groups are shown more often in the timeline. It has been possible for some time to create groups and subgroups and link them to your page. This way you can add forum-like functionalities to Facebook. It’s a good way to build a personal relationship with your customers or to bring existing and new customers into contact with each other.
- Let employees and customers share content for you: it’s more important than ever that your employees and your customers share your content through their personal profiles. Create quality content that is worth sharing and ensure that sharing is made easy. At Loyals we use a tool that enables us to share content from our Loyals colleagues directly through our own channels. And the gamification element ensures that it remains fun to keep sharing each other's content.
- Quality over quantity: the new algorithm carefully looks at the interaction with your messages. Many companies posted content several times a day to increase their reach and used Facebook as a mass medium. Messages with a low interaction can have a bad influence on the reputation of your page. So choose quality instead of quantity.
- Reach your loyal followers: users have an influence on the interpretation of their timeline. For example, they can indicate which pages they want to see as first content. Point out this possibility to your faithful followers.
- Use monitoring tools to find out what is happening to your customers: in order to communicate with your customers, you should know what is going on. Keep an eye on the feedback you receive and monitor what is being said about your company on the different channels, so that you can capitalize on it and start talking to your customers.
- Focus on live video: live videos call up to 6 times more interaction compared to regular videos. Only a small number of companies currently use Facebook Live, so it's a good way to stand out. Did you know that your followers will receive a notification when you go live?
- Keep an eye on Facebook Stories: it is now known that Facebook Stories will be rolled out more broadly and that business pages will soon be able to make stories. Instagram has already shown us that stories are a fun way to give people a look behind the scenes or to share how-to videos. In addition, the stories have a prominent place in the Facebook apps and on the website, so it’s a good way to stand out.
Oh no, I am losing my audience!
Do you see the range of your Facebook messages dropping and are you looking for ways to connect with your target group? Advertising on Facebook remains the best method to reach your target audience, even if your budget is limited. Our content specialists like to help you with writing good content, also for your messages on Facebook. And as I said, we have fun ways to involve your employees in distributing your content. In short, plenty of reasons to get in touch and think about the possibilities together.
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