Facebook is rolling out a new algorithm update to the newsfeed that will likely affect the content your business shares and promotes - and they are doing it soon.
Via the announcement posted last week:
“Beginning in January 2015, people will see less [promotional posts] in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place — as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook is going to start penalizing businesses – in the form of decreased post reach - for sharing promotional content.
Why are they doing this? Simply put, Facebook users expect to see “more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content” when they scroll through their newsfeeds.
In order to keep their users happy (and logged on), Facebook will begin to closely monitor and possibly penalize content shared from business pages.
What exactly is changing?
This new algorithm update applies specifically to what’s known as organic content - meaning posts, pictures and videos that are shared as “status updates.” Beginning in January 2015, the algorithm that surfaces stories in a user’s newsfeed will begin to ignore content that:
- Directly asks people to buy a product or install an app
- Solicits people to enter promotions and sweepstakes
- Reuses the exact same content from paid ads
To understand what this actually looks likes, here’s an example of the type of post that will be downgraded moving forward:
It’s likely that Facebook will penalize this post because it pushes a product by asking the user to “buy” the Season 1 DVD. That’s promotional no-no #1.
The better approach to this post would be: “Catch the antics of Gary, Sonya and Dr. Stripes tonight at 8pm! Miss last season’s antics? We’ve caught them all on our Season 1 DVD.”
What should you do now?
You can still get your message out on Facebook, but doing so will require more creativity and etiquette than before. Here’s a simple guide to creating great Facebook content that follows the new rules:
- Create posts that provides information beneficial your customer (not necessarily your business) or relates to their interests
- Include copy that sounds personal rather than promotional
- Do not use phrases like “Buy Now,” “Click to Shop,” or similar language
- Attach a relevant picture to your post before sharing
- Before posting, ask: “Would I click on this if it were in my newsfeed?”
- Learn what works and what doesn’t, and evolve
We use this guide when creating social content ourselves. Here’s an example of a Facebook post that was assembled following the above criteria:
Notice that this post engages with our customer on their terms. A graphic was created around a quote our audience will likely enjoy. Copy was written to be on tone with the kinds of status updates likely found in our audience’s newsfeeds. We did not include a call to action, but have hyperlinked our graphic to point to the website when clicked.
And the best part?
This type of content is 100% encouraged by Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. As “likes” accrue, this content is shown across more and more newsfeeds generating greater brand exposure for our client.
Is it possible to sell a product on the newsfeed moving forward?
Yes – but doing so will require paid dollars. To sell a product via the newsfeed, you will need to create a post that communicates the benefit of the product or offers a unique promotion. It’s best to include an engaging picture or short video with the copy. Once published, “boost” the post to increase the likelihood that it will show up in your customer’s newsfeeds. An added benefit, boosted posts also appear on a business page’s own timeline.
Now it’s your turn.
Yes, Facebook’s latest algorithm update will change the way that your content is distributed. Gone are the days of using the newsfeed to conveniently sell a product, service or special promotion - organically. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the game.
Apply discretion to your social posting strategy. Take the time to create posts that are important to your consumer. Share stories and information that they will care about – content with which they’ll identify. Do this and Facebook will continue to remain a significant marketing vehicle for your business.