Why Facebook’s news feed changes mean your brand will need to get people talking

Facebook is radically changing what will appear in its news feed. G Squared's George Photios warns that if they want to be seen, brands will need to get a lot better at producing content people actually want to talk to their friends about.

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook will be changing how people use the social network in a bid to provide more meaningful interactions for users.

Your news feed is probably currently crowded with content from brands or publishers. Personal moments connecting people with each other have diminished over time, and people are using Facebook to keep up to date with news and current affairs more than each other.

This creates a number of problems for Facebook: first, that engagement between people decreases, and second, that the user experience becomes less evocative.

With the increased amount of negative research and publicity around the psychological impact social media has on people’s lives, Facebook has recognised that they need to work on allowing its users to connect with those they care about instead of brands.

But what are the impacts of these changes on brands and publishers?

The first thing to note is that there has been no indication that this will affect the distribution of paid media on the site.

In fact, the decrease in organic branded and publisher content might even create room for more sponsored content (which in itself has become more and more relevant to those viewing it).

Considering most sponsored content is native, replacing some branded/publisher content with more ads will probably go unnoticed by users.

It’s been a long time since a brand has been able to set up a Facebook page, post content, and watch their bottom line grow. Facebook has for years been a paid channel for brands, accounting alone for over 20% of digital ad spend.

These most recent changes affect the distribution of organic content, so organic reach will inevitably decline, particularly for those posts that don’t encourage conversation or engagement.

In impacting organic reach most, publishers will feel the brunt of these changes. Organic distribution is relied on so heavily for publishers, driving incredibly high traffic to their sites. That’s not to say reach won’t be as high, but the factors driving it will inevitably change.

Zuckerberg has said that public content “should encourage meaningful interactions between people”. Engagements such as link clicks and reactions, which previously had a high influence on virality, will now be less influential, and comments and engagements between people held to higher esteem.

So, for publishers and others relying on organic reach, adjustments will need to be made. Captions accompanying content would previously encourage clicks through to the publisher’s website.

Now, these will need to facilitate dialogue in the comments section. It is this engagement between users Facebook is focusing on, so the publishers who can achieve that could even benefit from these most recent changes.

And lastly, how will these changes affect the user experience? News feeds will be much more focused on your friends and family, making the Facebook experience matter more to people.

In recent years Facebook has lost this focus, attracting the world’s major brands and allowing them perhaps more airtime than necessary. People have subsequently diverted their attention to people-centric social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat.

So, this latest announcement will be a welcome change for most users. It will encourage people to return more often, to share more themselves, to spend more time on the platform and, dare I say it, to look at more ads.

George Photios is campaign director at G Squared.


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