Move Over SEO, There’s a New Algorithm in Town
A Look Into Facebook’s Recent Changes to the News Feed Optimization (NFO)
Facebook just rolled out a huge marketing initiative to let us know how their News Feed is changing. They’re hitting a lot of concerns head on, such as fake news, lack of personal connection, spam, and more.
I mean, if you haven’t seen one of their commercials yet, we’d be surprised. It’s like, every time we want to binge The Office or Parks & Rec, with each new commercial break we’re *inspired* by how Facebook is changing to become more meaningful. But really, you should read up on all of those changes because they’re not as boring as they sound—in fact, they’re fascinating.
But for our purposes here, we’ll just be talking about the News Feed Optimization (NFO) changes as they relate to how your business page specifically will (or won’t ????) interact with your followers on their feeds going forward.
Since Facebook’s number of daily active users is leaps and bounds above that of any other platform, many are saying that NFO is the new SEO. And we’d tend to agree, for the most part. So, what is NFO? Let’s break it down…
The NFO algorithm is always being tweaked, much like it’s SEO counterpart, Google’s PageRank. But this recent update is far more than a tweak and more like an overhaul. So, we wanted to highlight some of the changes so you know how they’ll affect your business’s Facebook presence.
Remember how we said Facebook rolled out a marketing campaign to let us know about all the changes they’re implementing to make our interactions on Facebook more meaningful? They’ll do this by means of tweaking their algorithm, which has over 100,000 signals, all of which determine what’s shown on the news feed. And everyone’s news feed is tailored specifically to them. So, with 2.4 billion users, this is not a small project…
The values used to shape the news feed have always been to inform and entertain. But now major emphasis is being placed on encouraging deeper, more meaningful conversations between friends and family.
What does this mean for the ranking of content published by businesses on their Facebook Pages? Well, it’s not the best news we’ve ever given you… but it’s not necessarily debilitating, either.
Alright let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
1. Page Posts
Let’s just rip this band-aid off. Shall we? Unfortunately, we’re told that there will be less content directly from business pages in the news feed. The content with the highest priority will now be more personal to the user, i.e. more from friends and family and less from brands and publishers. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, announced that “public content–posts from businesses, brands, and media–is crowding out the personal moments,” and he’s focusing his efforts on correcting that. But not all is lost! If you’re active on Facebook Ads, you’re dealing with a separate beast altogether, and in terms of this ranking change, the visibility of your ads won’t be affected.
Facebook says that content from pages will still be an important part of the community, and pages that are trustworthy will still be prioritized in the news feed. How high? Well, it’s hard to say because who even understands these algorithms anyway?
Since content shared and talked about between friends will be prioritized, a great way to keep your business in the news feed is to encourage your followers to post about your business. Jewelers, for example, may run a promotion where they invite users to take pictures wearing their jewelry and offer to highlight the best photo. When Facebook sees that users are posting from their own accounts with tags to your business, it’s more likely your own content will be prioritized in the news feed.
Also, we’re thinking that since posts with a lot of meaningful engagement from followers will be even more valuable with the new algorithm, you should definitely check out our blog called, “10 Ways to Drastically Improve Your Social Media Engagement” if you haven’t already! Lots of good tips over there on how to get your audience talking!
2. Comments Vs. Likes
Posts that draw a lot of comments will be prioritized in the news feed over posts that only get a lot of likes. Liking is pretty easy, and therefore isn’t considered as meaningful. So, basically what you need to know is that until you hear otherwise, comments > likes.
The algorithm also weighs long comments more heavily than short comments. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is the idea that if a user takes the time to write a comment that’s thoughtful or ignites more conversations, especially on a phone (because #bigthumbprobs), the content of the post must be more valuable. So, that post will rank higher on others’ feeds as well.
Another positive here is that this will most likely cut down on the one-word or emoji bot-generated comments used to positively affect one’s news feed ranking, and what Facebook thinks will lead to less false likes and comments and more genuine connection.
We’ve talked a lot about how video is becoming more and more important online. Well, Facebook’s Vice President in charge of the News Feed recently addressed this saying, “The biggest thing has been just the explosion of video. Video is a paradigm shift in a lot of different ways. Video is an important part of the ecosystem. It’s been consistently growing. But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos. We’ve done a lot to try and nurture it… [but] you tend to just sit back and watch it. And while you’re watching it, you’re not usually liking or comment or speaking with friends…. [so] there will be less video.”
But video won’t necessarily automatically be less valuable, while friend content is automatically more valuable. The whole point of the change is that whatever inspires more meaningful engagement is more valuable, so if your video fits that criteria, it will be seen. And if your video content already inspires a lot of conversation, it may actually be seen more with the new algorithm!
We think all of this is pretty cool because it’s going to cause a lot of businesses to get real, and spend time really thinking about their posts, keeping in mind what their specific audience actually wants to engage with, and how their content can positively affect the people in their community. (BTW, you’re probably already doing a lot of this planning in your market research & profiling for any well-executed advertising efforts.)
If we could break down the news feed changes in one simple phrase it would be: “Less sales. More connection.” And we like that.