Getting Back to its Roots – What Facebook’s Recent Newsfeed Change Means for Brands
If we – as both marketers and consumers – were to take a measure of Facebook as it exists today, we might say that it wants to be an ‘everything’.
It wants to have great, engaging content that its users spend hours poring over, from brands, publishers and fellow Facebook community members. It wants to foster live, interactive environments where people can become part of a lively discussion around breaking news, where they can experience exclusive brand stories, or share in the most important life moments of their families and friends. And beyond that, a place to shop, fundraise, watch shows and more.
All of this has made Facebook one of, if not the most critical platform for brands to leverage, as a holistic part of their strategy to reach and capture engaged audiences.
In being everything, it has lost the something
But in the midst of becoming the ultimate ‘everything’, Facebook has lost something along the way. And Mark Zuckerberg enlightened this in his public post earlier today, where he reminded us all what Facebook was originally created for: to enrich the lives of its users by enabling them to connect meaningfully with one another, and with the rest of the world.
As a result, Zuck announced that Facebook would be making a sweeping change to the content seen by users on the platform. In effect, the newsfeed algorithm update will spark a shift in content from brands and publishers, to favoring content and interactions from friends and family.
It’s no secret that Facebook has been under fire over the recent year for its apparent involvement in influencing the 2016 President Election, as well as prioritizing misleading or inaccurate news. There have also been questions about keeping the attention of the ever-important Gen Z and Millennial audiences, who’ve shifted their time to other emerging platforms and favorite messaging apps like Snapchat.
Ultimately, Facebook likely feels a responsibility to focus more intently on rebuilding meaningful relationships with its audience, and creating an overall better Facebook
What does it mean for brands?
While the news has sent publishers into a panic, this isn’t an ‘end of the world’ scenario for brands. In fact, in recognizing the higher level of expectations from consumers, many brands have already worked diligently to create content and experiences of real value and relevance, and this announcement only further solidifies the significance of those efforts.
But naturally, the emphasis on friends and family interactions will likely lessen the amount of organic brand content seen (which is not something entirely new to this crowd).
To this end, we predict:
- An increased pressure for brands to create and distribute content that matters to their audiences, with a focus on more storytelling and more content that’s of value to individual users.
- Increased adoption by brands of real time video, which increases the perception of authenticity in the consumer’s mind.
- A shift in the “avoiding pay for play” mentality from brands of all types on the channel, and more attention paid to relevance scores and overall user experience.
- An increased reliance on earned media, and the power of peer influence – not only in User Generated Content campaigns, but also in recognizing the importance of how content is packaged, and its impact on overall shareability.
And from a paid social and content perspective?
While the exact impact to paid efforts remains to be seen, we predict that Facebook will become even more insistent on advertisers’ use of video and mobile-first, quality creative experiences, particularly as it relates to leveraging Facebook’s newer ad products.
We also recommend:
- Leveraging ‘Best Practices’ creative strategies, and leaning on your content and agency partners to guide those best practices
- Focusing on sharing content that allows communities to have an active, and interactive experience, whether that be with brand product or stories
- Continue the focus on driving important business objectives through your paid strategy, and emphasizing user value
We strongly believe, as does Facebook, that people still want exciting and engaging content from brands and publishers in their news feeds. It’s now up to us, as marketers, to hold ourselves accountable to the standards of meaningful, valuable consumer experiences. It’s likely that brands who can deliver on these standards will be rewarded, while those that don’t may see their CPMs spike, reach decline and engagement taper off.
Let’s all remember what Facebook, and what, effectively, all of our efforts are grounded in: providing amazing experiences.