Facebook News Feed Changes & What They Mean for Businesses

Facebook News Feed Changes

Facebook has recently updated its News Feed ranking algorithm with the goal of showing users more relevant content in their News Feeds.  According to Facebook’s newsroom post, this change will mean you will see more content in your News Feed that others have read, liked, and commented on as well as “high quality” content published by authoritative websites. So, what are the specifics of all these changes, and what do they mean for your business?

Facebook Changes News Feed Algorithm

Since August, Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm so it is now “bumping” stories to the top of the News Feed that have had an activity such as a comment posted to them. The explanation for this is to resurface content to users that they may not have seen the first time it was posted. Users on the desktop have already seen this feature roll out, but Facebook recently enabled it for mobile users. While this feature can be useful, the down side is that users may also see bumped stories in their feed that are no longer timely or relevant.

In addition, the Facebook News Feed algorithm is highlighting articles that are related to other articles you or others in your network read, in order to help you find more content you might find interesting. Now, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles in your News Feed. Facebook has recently updated its News Feed ranking algorithm with the goal of showing users more relevant content in their News Feeds.  According to Facebook’s newsroom post, this change will mean you will see more content in your News Feed that others have read, liked, and commented on as well as “high quality” content published by authoritative websites. So, what are the specifics of all these changes, and what do they mean for your business?

Changes Impact Businesses on Facebook

In the past few weeks, these changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm appear to be favoring content from publications while hampering the organic visibility of posts from brands and businesses who use Facebook to share content with their fans. Although the update is meant to highlight quality content and downplay meme-related content, especially for mobile users, publishers like as Buzzfeed and Upworthy have actually seen increases in their site traffic since the update, while brands and businesses have seen a huge decrease in traffic from their native posts on the site. A Facebook study conducted by social media marketing agency Ignite reported a 44% decline in reach, on average, from branded News Feed posts on Facebook.

The Takeaway?

Businesses that use Facebook as a marketing tool may no longer be able to get by using only the “free” part of Facebook — News Feed posts — to promote their content. Instead, they need to start investing in creating engaging, relevant content much like publishers produce, promoted posts, and targeted Facebook ads to reach their audience, in light of these new changes.

Here are a few tips for your Facebook strategy in this new News Feed environment:

1. Create Share-Worthy, Engaging News Feed Content

These changes mean that highly-engaging, relevant content is more important than ever before. According to an article on Forbes, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will focus on content that “keeps people coming back to Facebook to discover something new and then share it with their friends.” And, since News Feed bumping means users will start seeing content their connections have engaged with, it benefits your business to create content that compels people to like, comment, and share your posts. These changes emphasize an important content marketing reality: your posts are literally competing for attention with every other piece of content, news story, post, or picture on Facebook. If you think like a publisher and create content that truly compels your audience to action, these changes can actually help increase the visibility of your posts.

2. Publish Relevant, Timely, Credible Articles

So, what kind of content does Facebook favor in the new News Feed ? According to Facebook for Business, the new algorithm favors content that is timely and relevant, and from a credible and trustworthy source. Since the new algorithm highlights or bumps content that is liked and shared, publishers of “viral” content, like the aforementioned Buzzfeed and Upworthy, have seen an uptick in traffic since the update. So, take a page from their marketing style and try creating content for Facebook that contains headlines that are timely, targeted, entertaining, or even controversial. It’s also important to build authority with your audience by sharing content that is useful and informative that your audience is likely to read and share.

3. Encourage Fan Engagement

As a result of story bumping, it’s even more important than ever to ask fans to engage with the content you post on Facebook. So, in addition to creating content that is inherently engaging, but you should ask people to like or comment on your posts or share them with their friends. Types of content that can generate a lot of engagement are: questions, requests for user-generated content (such as photos, captions, or predictions), contests, local events, community involvement, and promotions. Posts that receive a great deal of engagement can then be bumped up in people’s News Feeds, giving users another chance to see and take action on your content, helping boost the organic reach of your posts. Another tip for helping boost your engagement is to review your Facebook insights to see which types of content are driving the most engagement, so you can create more like them.

4. Boost Your Posts to Pay for Visibility

Also known as promoted posts, boosted posts are essentially News Feed updates that you can pay to enhance their visibly in the News Feed, so more people are likely to see them and engage. While you can boost anything from a basic update to a photo or video, a good rule of thumb is to boost a post that already has a high amount of organic views and engagement or a post that generates a meaningful result, like traffic to your site through links. For instance, you could boost a post that will receive a lot of likes and shares, such as an offer, or one that will drive comments and fan engagement, like a contest or a special event. You can boost a post for as little as $5, and the amount you spend will determine the approximate number of impressions your post will receive.

It’s also important to know that you can boost your content through the “Create an ad” link under your settings tool, which gives you more options and targeting capabilities than a generic boosted post. Simply select “page post engagement” as your ad type, select the page and post you want to promote, and follow the prompts from there!

5. Reach More Readers Through Facebook Ads

Chances are, your organic reach through News Feed posts has already taken a hit, as many reports are indicating. That’s why it’s important to include advertising on Facebook to enhance your reach on the site. Here are some types of advertising you can take advantage of on Facebook:

  • Facebook Ads: Display on Facebook is probably what most people think of when it comes to advertising on the site. These image-and-text ads are typically shown on the right-hand side of the News Feed on the desktop version of the site.
  • Sponsored Stories: Sponsored stories look like messages that come from people in a user’s network about their engagement with your brand. For instance, if you sponsor a story for your nail salon, a user may see a post in their News Feed that says their connection Sally Smith likes Nancy’s Nail Salon. Sponsored stories can look similar to a status update, but they are labeled “sponsored” and can appear both in the News Feed or on the right hand side of the homepage.
  • Facebook Offers: If you want to share a coupon or discount with your audience, you can create a Facebook Offer. When someone claims the offer, they can use it at your place of business to receive a discount.

If you are advertising directly through Facebook, you can target your ads to specific audiences based on a number of factors, such as their location, age, gender, and interests. The more you narrow your ads, the more targeted the audience that sees your ads will be.

Have you seen a change in how many people your News Feed updates are reaching? What are you doing to increase engagement with your business?

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Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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