After years dedicated to evolving Facebook from a simple social networking platform to a go-to source for trending news (through a permanent news side bar and an algorithm that rewards business pages), Mark Zuckerberg has done a complete 180 that has sent brands, companies and publishers spiraling: a push to prioritize posts from friends and family.
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media,” Zuckerberg wrote in his announcement. “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.”
Many have speculated that the reason for this shift (or undoing, really) stems from the fake news mess Facebook has found itself in, with users abusing or misusing the platform to spread misinformation, which ultimately influenced the presidential election. Others have suggested that perhaps it’s a move to encourage people to talk more about their personal lives, which will yield invaluable consumer data for advertisers (evidently, less people are sharing personal content on the platform).
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Or perhaps this Facebook’s latest newsfeed overhaul really is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately for brands that rely on the platform for sales by promoting new deliveries or driving consumers to their site, it means rethinking social media strategies entirely as they attempt to navigate Facebook’s new algorithm. Should they be anxious?
“I don’t think there’s a need to worry — this isn’t the first time Facebook has implemented a drastic algorithm change and it surely won’t be the last,” said Carlos Matias, social media strategist for branded content. “Good publishers and brands will see a dip in overall reach and engagement, but will still continue to do well as long as they keep putting out quality, engaging content geared toward their community. The brands and publishers that will suffer severely will be the ones putting out clutter, click-bait and low-quality content. This doesn’t mean it’s the end of advertisers on Facebook because Facebook needs them, but for once, they’re putting the user experience first.”
A successful social strategy, Matias continued, includes a healthy mix of distribution platforms and a flexible approach to acclimating to the social media landscape. It’s something that Fila (a brand that’s seeing a resurgence thanks to today’s obsession with ’90s nostalgia), is already thinking about and implementing.
“The social media landscape is constantly evolving and we understand the need to adjust and adapt to every change,” said Sean Lynch, marketing manager for influencers and athletes at Fila North America. “We recognize when and where we must retool our social strategy, to continue to connect with the consumer. This change will raise the importance of influencer marketing and paid media.”
And if this Facebook change really will force brands to put their consumers first, deliver valuable pieces of content and create more meaningful experiences, then maybe Zuckerberg has a point: It is all for the betterment of the community. And if that’s the case, we’re here for it.
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