Big Changes Are Happening to Facebook; Is Your Business Ready?


Ready or not, big changes are in progress for the world’s largest social media platform.

The Facebook you’re used to will soon be seeing a massive overhaul—and it’s causing concern among businesses.

Posts from brands, businesses and media will soon be replaced with content that Mark Zuckerberg believes is more likely to connect with users—stories from your family and friends.

What’s Happening to Facebook’s Newsfeed?

In a January 11th post, the CEO explained his desire to bring Facebook back to its roots as a community for social sharing and growth, rather than an outlet for ads and clickbait articles.

“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.” – Zuckerberg

Facebook’s Newsfeed makeover will include:

  • Prioritizing content from friends, family and groups
  • Favoring posts with higher engagement, particularly comments since they drive conversation
  • De-emphasizing content from businesses and brands, as well as clickbait articles
  • Enhanced security with ID technology acquired from a merger with Boston-based startup Confirm.io

Reasons Behind Facebook’s Newsfeed Change

Facebook’s shift didn’t come out of the blue. Several factors point to a need for change:

  • Facebook’s organic reach has been diminishing for years. An analytical report established that Facebook pages with more than 500,000 likes averaged only about a 2% organic reach per post.
  • Facebook’s failed war on “fake news” made headlines – and they weren’t positive ones. The platform has since issued a set of guidelines in an attempt to filter out misinformation. The latest impact was a February 12 report by CNN which includes Unilever announcing an intent to pull all ads due to “fake news,” sexism, racism, and extremism.

Getting Ahead of the Problem

Along with its hopes to return to a more wholesome experience for users, Facebook plans to tighten security with its new identification authentication. With the social media giant’s recent acquisition of tech startup Confirm, users will be required to confirm their identities with special technology in the event of being locked out, getting hacked or losing a password. Facebook also expects this new technology to help safeguard against fake news by verifying the identities of people who purchase political or election-related ads on the network.

Facebook has yet to reveal more details regarding the upcoming merger. Stay updated on this topic by signing up for our newsletter.

How the Newsfeed Change Will Affect Advertisers

If you are a business who has depended on Facebook as your main platform for social media marketing and advertising, chances are you will feel the effects of the new changes:

  • Big brands who have spent millions building audiences on Facebook are expected to see a significant decrease in reach and exposure
  • Facebook previously convinced advertisers to spend more on sponsored posts in order to reach those audiences
  • The social network plans to de-prioritize these already established relationships

What You Can Expect

Over the next few weeks, users should see fewer viral videos and news articles shared by publishers. Instead, be ready for posts that friends and family have interacted with, such as photos of your friend’s new baby or a status update that has received many comments.

Many marketers believe the Newsfeed changes will make organic posts from businesses nearly invisible to users. Since people are expected to spend less time on Facebook, there may be fewer opportunities for advertising, driving up costs for advertisers yet again.

What About Instagram?

Owned by Facebook, Instagram has somewhat lived in the shadow of its now parent company. While the plethora of ads and clickbait content is common on Facebook, Instagram has offered a simpler experience for sharing photos among friends and followers.

But now, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, it seems the photo-sharing app may be falling in line with Facebook’s less intimate content overload, the same overload Zuckerberg is currently trying to change. Studies show that use on Instagram has increased, but user enjoyment is on a steady decline.

Instagram is now incorporating features that distract from user engagement. The app now inserts posts from accounts that users do not follow into their feeds with a banner that reads “Sponsored” or “Recommended for you.” Although you can hide these posts manually and temporarily, you can’t stop them from appearing in your feed together.

The number of ads present on Instagram has also increased substantially.

One advertising firm, Brand Networks, notes that clients reached as many as 17 times the amount of potential views in 2017 than in 2016. In an app where ads were previously nonexistent, companies are now scrambling for user attention.

Instagram is most likely adopting Facebook features because they have been a proven success. But with Facebook’s overhaul on the way, will Instagram simply take its place?

Where Facebook Stands Now

Ad changes are already happening, and it appears Zuckerberg was right when he predicted that Facebook use would lower.

The length of time users spend on the platform has dipped 5% since Facebook’s new changes. That equates to about a two-minute loss each day per user from Facebook’s nearly 2 billion daily users (200 million in US according to Statista). The social media platform has lost a total of about 700,000 daily users.

Even so, the questions concerning Facebook’s future don’t appear to be affecting its financial performance.

Although Facebook users are spending less time on the platform, it is still gaining profit. In fact, profits soared 61% in the fourth quarter. Facebook’s revenue grew 47%, while the average ad price rose 43%.

Facebook’s continued growth highlights its ability to maintain leverage, even during times of critical change.

How to Keep Your Business Ahead of the Game

Facebook has warned advertisers and businesses about jumping the gun too quickly by altering marketing strategies. A few smart changes can keep your business in the game:

  1. Get creative and engaging to drive the so-called “meaningful interactions” that Facebook is pushing towards.What matters to your audience? Create that
  2. Watch the advertising costs. As prices for ads on Facebook continue to rise, businesses with less money to spend will inevitably be pushed out.Smaller brands and startups will likely need to explore other advertising venues. Remember to continue building email and physical mailing lists and stay in close contact with clients to keep building your referral base.
  3. Drive conversation with your content. Comments will be the new “share,” with longer comments being valued over shorter ones.They say everyone has an opinion, so be sure to ask your audience for theirs. Create posts with questions, drive curiosity and generate discussion.

Will Your Business Rock or Roll with the Changes?

While only time will tell how Facebook’s mega changes will pan out for us all, Zuckerberg is certain that his social media behemoth baby is now headed in the right direction—for the long run. The change is expected to provide more meaningful content for Facebookers to engage with which – according to Zuckerberg – will eventually make them happier.

Brands and publishers now face a challenge: creating more meaningful and engaging content. As digital marketers, relevant and meaningful content not only boosts user engagement but brand image in the eyes of the consumer.

We welcome this as a challenge at Obu Interactive. We’re excited for it, and you can be, too. Let us revamp your content and help you engage your audience.

Call us today at (800) 619-5944

 

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Landon Harlan
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February 1, 2018

Landon is the co-founder and CEO of Obu Interactive.

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