Facebook Update: Meaningful Social Interactions

Facebook is yet again making adjustments to its news feed algorithm. And this time it is bad news for business pages. But, as always, there is a silver lining for marketers willing to go above and beyond the average. Pages that slap a few thoughtless posts out each month will see a serious decline in their reach. But that opens up opportunities for pages willing to be unique and personal to fill that void.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, just what are the changes that Facebook is making? Both Mark Zuckerberg and corporate Facebook released announcements about the change. Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Zuckerberg

In a long post from January 11th, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be shifting its priority from finding relevant content to facilitating “meaningful social interaction.” As a Facebook user, I welcome the shift – it sounds like just the sort of thing Facebook needs to maintain its grip on the social media throne. But as a marketer – there are some scary prospects in what Zuckerberg is saying.

He explains the impetus behind the move, “Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” And there’s no sugar-coating what this means.

Zuckerberg continues, “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” Like I said, this is scary stuff. But he begins to hint at possible solutions. Brands that encourage meaningful interactions can continue to reach their audience.

Zuckerberg offers further hints at social media success under the new rules: “We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues.” Looks like live video should continue to be a priority if you want to maintain an effective Facebook presence.

Corporate Facebook

Shortly after Zuckerberg’s post, Facebook published an update with some additional information about the pending changes. The echo much of what Zuckerberg said. They will prioritize posts that spark conversation: “these are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

And they don’t shy away from the bad news. “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease…Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.” Certainly, bad news for lazy social media marketers.

Good News/Bad News

As I said in the introduction, this seems like both good news and bad news for social media marketers. It’s bad news because we will see a further decrease in organic reach and we’ll have to get more creative about encouraging engagement. But it’s good news because, for those willing to do the work, there will less noise to compete against.

Creating engageable content on Facebook is easier said than done, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Zuckerberg and Facebook have provided some initial tips to get us pointed in the right direction. Reading between the lines, I came up with four ways to continue getting the reach you need:

  • Live video: Nothing new here, Facebook has been pushing live video for about a year now. And they like what they have seen with six times more interactions over regular videos.
  • Group Involvement: With this update, Groups should see an uptick in usage because they naturally foster discussion. For your business, that could mean hosting or just participating – but it looks like Groups should be a part of your social media plan going forward.
  • Influencer Marketing: Celebrities and influencers will continue to attract discussion to their content. So, it looks like the influencer marketing trend isn’t about to go away. Getting your business in front of the right people might take a partnership with an influencer in your market.
  • Local value: For local businesses, consider providing local value by posting about your community and events. This will not only encourage engagement but make a space for ‘meaningful social interactions’ beyond typical promotional posts.

Old Advice for New Problems

Social media marketers have been beating the drum of personality for years now. And the same old advice applies to this new problem. If you want people to engage with and discuss your posts, then you have to be more than a robot churning out sales-y posts five days a week. Provide value, ask questions, be yourself. It’s what we’ve been saying all along, but now there is more incentive to follow through on that advice.

Of course, there are implications for what this news means for paid Facebook advertising – but that’s another topic for another day. If you’re worried about seeing your already small organic reach continue to shrink, consider going hiring a professional social media manager to get you through the latest Facebook changes. At Fusion Group USA, we can’t read the future – but we are quick to adapt and adjust to every trend. That’s why we continue to see social media success. Contact us today to get started on a social media plan that sets you apart from the crowd.

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