Updates of Facebook algorithms: what does this mean for brands?

Why are you using Facebook, dear marketer? I’m sure that not only for the advertising. So you couldn’t have failed to notice that the last year you have seen more content created by the brands than by your friends? The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and his staff noticed that too. Therefore Mr. Zuckerberg decided to change drastically the priorities of the most popular social network ever. According to Zuckerberg, the active development of the social network in the last two years has led to the fact that the content of companies, brands, and the media began to prevail over the personal content of people. But the main purpose of Facebook is “to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us”, that means to connect friends and family. So now the social network makes personal messages prevail over public ones and the new motto for Facebook sounds like “Friends instead of news”. “I’m changing the goal,” Mark Zuckerberg confirmed on his page. “I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” Of course, this news caused panic in the SMM-community, because for many participants and even for some industries, the changes will be really catastrophic.

What exactly is changing?

The internal kitchen of the social network is still hidden, but from the messages of Facebook, the media and experts we can conclude, that the following ideology of change looms:

1. Priority of personal over the public. The algorithm will give priority not to popular messages in general, but to personal messages of friends being lively commented. According to Adam Mosseri who is the head of Facebook’s fake televiews, the space in the news feed is limited, and the increase in the number of messages from friends and relatives will mean a reduction in the number of public content, including video and other media and company content.

2. Priority of commenting on likes and views. Previously, priorities were formed based on likes, shares and time spent on the post (e.g. video). Now the main factor that increases the issue is “meaningful interactions”, and here we see the crucial role of comments. That means that the approach to virality and relevance is changing.

3. Priority of quality over quantity. Еarlier the amount of time spent by the user in Facebook was prioritized. Now the focus has switched to the quality of the interaction in the social network. “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent,” writes Mark Zuckerberg.

Why is he doing this?

Because he can, of course — but not only. To understand the reasons why Mark is doing all of that staff, it is worth to pay attention not so much to innovation, but to what is being canceled. Let’s take a closer look:

Facebook was created for people but was captured by the brands and structures. The information dissemination system became so good that all those who are interested in distributing their content on their own, bypassing the media — including the media themselves — came to it.

In the end, professional users of Facebook suppressed amateurs. Ordinary users of the social network became the objects, although they should be its subjects. As a consequence, communication with friends of interests has turned into the use of user’s interests by structures.

This all has already led to the main problem of 2017, visible to the public and painful for Facebook, and the name of that problem is “elections and fake news”. American society was harmed by intruders via the mechanisms of Facebook, and now everyone thinks that Facebook contributed to the polarization of society and the spread of hatred. This, of course, is not at all what Mark would like to hear about his creation.

These accusations led to political scandal and official investigations of Facebook’s malicious use of the election. And any political scandal creates a very negative context, to which the big capital is very sensitive.

Among other important motives, Zuckerberg puts responsibility before the daughters, because he wants his children to understand that their father has created something good for the world.

What does it mean for the advertisers and what to do?

We could understand all of these causes, but what could we do to adapt to the changes? There are some facts all of us have to understand ASAP:

1. We’ll see the end of the organic traffic era, as we knew it. All the mechanisms and connections built to overtake organic and artificial traffic are at least now at risk. Already we observe that people are spending less time on Facebook.

2. Facebook’s innovation will be a real catastrophe for the media industry. Adam Mosseri assures that the messages of the pages and organizations will not be removed into a separate news feed like “Explore”, as it was in the Serbian-Cambodian experiment in fall 2017. They will still remain in the general feed, but they will be seen much fewer now.

3. Be ready to reformat your advertising and marketing. The news from the politicians, the brands, and the media will not be able to return to the feed in the same volume even for money.

4. Now, all political structures, non-profit organizations, interest groups, influential bloggers, activists, and just the small businesses are removed from the mainstream. Big business will somehow be reorganized and adjusted, but small structures that honestly earned organic traffic and communications, and did not have budgets for advertising, will be in a very difficult position.

5. Prepare to bet on video. Watching the growth of YouTube and the general rise of video content on the Internet, Facebook actively promoted its own video format.

6. Provoke activity in the comments. Since the role of commenting will increase in the new ecosystem, the authors of the posts have to go into the comments, even if they don’t like to deal with that at all. Use your journalism skills not only in your publications but also on the level of comments.

The main conclusion that can be made from all of that facts: the own platform and channels are always more reliable. The more you give to someone else’s platform, the more you depend on some unpredictable circumstances.