So, the social media world collectively lost its sh*t this week when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new “Family First” feed update.
In case you’ve somehow avoided this firestorm of blogger rage, here’s what the announcement has said: Facebook will begin prioritizing posts from friends and family over businesses, brands and pages in the news feed. Their reason? To prioritize “meaningful personal interactions”. (Side note: would a fist to the face count as a meaningful personal interaction, Zucky? Asking for a friend).
I encourage you to read Zuck’s original post here or the post from the official Facebook blog because anything else at this point is pure speculation, and the Interwebs is getting inundated by sensationalized headlines like the following:
A few things worth noting (before I hand out homemade Algo-pocalypse T-shirts):
- Facebook is NOT blocking pages from the news feed altogether. No, headlines like the above are dumb. Facebook was testing a separate feed for pages, but that is not what this update is about. From the official Facebook blog: “This update is not the same as the recent tests where all Page content was moved to the Explore Tab. Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.”
- People will STILL see your content first if they have chosen that option for your page. From the official Facebook blog: “People who want to see more posts from Pages they follow can choose See First in News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages.”
And sure, this move is a money grab – plain and simple. We’re not dummies, Zuck. You’re not doing this because our lives are lacking cat pics from Auntie Sue. (Though yes, Whiskers does rock his bow tie). The truth is buried in a long likely convoluted explanation, of which advertising moola is no doubt a key factor.
If you, too, are shaking your fist in the air at the Facebook gods, take solace in this smugly satisfying headline from yesterday:
But all pettiness aside, there are reasons to be excited too. I know that’s a refreshing departure from my usual shtick as the human embodiment of a panic button, but this algorithm change could be a very exciting development in the world of social media. Why? It’s forcing us to adapt as content creators, getting rid of lame gimmicks/engagement ploys and bringing back the importance of genuine connections. Facebook is making it tougher to succeed, sure, but that’s just another opportunity to show them who’s boss 😉 You with me?
These changes are going to be rolled out over the next few months, so the end is not nigh. … Not yet, anyway. What you need to do is start implementing changes now to ensure that you’re set up for success when these changes hit hard. A few immediate action items:
- Begin encouraging your most die hard followers to turn on the “See First” option on your page. This will ensure that your content still gets seen by your most devoted fans.
- Start capturing your audience & bringing them to other platforms. Promote your email newsletter, show them your badass Instagram, etc. TBH, I highly recommend trying to convert them to your email list rather than a different social media platform since you have more control over email.
- STOP with engagement bait like “Tag a friend if you can relate!” Facebook has actively declared that they will be demoting these posts in the news feed, and YES, they have super smart bots that scan posts for key engagement bait words, so this isn’t a joke
- Post more content that generates discussion. Get a little controversial if you have to. This should be the way of the future for your page anyway, so get your followers used to it.
- Get on board with VIDEO! If there’s any one content takeaway from this, it’s that old school Facebook content (e.g. link dropping) is on the outs. You need to focus on creating content that is both engaging and shareable. This will be the way to defeat the algorithm in 2018, and engaging, dialogue-sparking video seems to be the answer (I’ll explain this in-depth below).
And so slayers, I know we’re all in full panic mode right now, but besides those immediate action items above, this is what you should do moving forward.
Here's what we're talking about today...
Build community and prioritize genuine interactions
The practice of just talking AT people and hurling content around like a rabid monkey is not gonna fly any longer. It seems like Facebook’s goal is to create genuine communities, which makes my Care Bear heart rather fuzzy.
As the official blog states, “page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed”, so think about how you can bring your community closer together. I highly suggest thinking about your page content and how you can niche down. Your goal moving forward should be to find a tribe of people collectively obsessed about a certain topic, and building that community is MUCH easier when you have a narrowly defined focus.
So, for example: if you blog about travel, now’s the time to really consider WHAT kind of travel you are blogging about. It will be tough to build a community if your audience has some hardcore adventurers, some broke backpackers, some fashionistas, some confused grandmas who accidentally pressed “like”, etc. etc.
You should also…
Switch up your content strategy
As we said before, link dropping is no longer going to cut it. Remember, Facebook likes to keep people on their platform, that’s why videos uploaded directly to Facebook show up more often than YouTube videos, and also why link shares usually get crazy low organic reach.
SO, think about what Facebook is asking for… they’re asking for you to start generating more discussion and conversation. AND they’d like for you to do that while keeping people on Facebook.
What’s the answer to this, my friends? Say it with me!
VIDEO, video, video!
In the official blog, while listing examples of ‘good content’, they straight up say: “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook” and go on to say “many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers”.
What are they NOT saying? They haven’t mentioned anything about “nice photos” or “blog posts”. They vaguely make reference to news being a conversation starter, but that’s it for text-based posts. What HAVE they repeated though…? Video.
But be careful with this one: it’s not just about any video content… Facebook seems to be making an active shift towards high engagement content that sparks discussion. This means that the way we leverage video on Facebook might look a little different moving forward. It’s still too early to tell, but it seems increasingly important to be using video as a vehicle for your stories, for your content and to grow your community (rather than just a passive piece of content for your audience to consume). Think to yourself: how can you create captivating video content that is not only interesting to watch, but sparks discussion too?
Diversify the way you reach your audience
This is especially true if you’re a “small” page. If you don’t have a big following on your page as-is, it will be very tough for you to get your content seen at all. That said, as we wrote about in our Facebook algorithm hacks post, there is SO much more to Facebook than having a page and there ARE ways to spread your content. That’s why moving forward, it’s important you diversify your Facebook reach!
Here are some things you can do:
- Use your personal profile more: build closer relationship with your tribe and use your personal profile MORE as a way of sharing content with your audience
- Get active in groups, maybe even start your own: this new algorithm wants discussion, and groups are an amazing way to do that. In fact, this is the way we’ll be moving forward with Slaying Social, since our page is still such a baby. More details on this to come! BUT, besides starting your own group, you can also take the opportunity to become active in existing groups and build yourself up as an authority figure in your niche.
- Learn how to properly use Facebook ads. I know, I know – pay to play sucks and the last thing we want is to spend more money, but the fact is: Facebook at the end of the day is a business. Facebook even offers free courses about it!A business that relies on our money to run. I know we all act like Facebook ads are the devil, but depending on your end goal, they can generate insane ROI if you know how to use them. Consider educating yourself on the basics for now. While this may not make sense for bloggers, this might be a very smart option for small businesses.
But for now? Here’s where I’m at:
Is it time to abandon ship and leave Facebook for good? Well sure, if you want to leave 2 billion monthly active users on the table. I hate to sound like a motivational poster, but in the face of adversity, we usually have two options: quit or adapt & persevere. Because I’m petty, and don’t want Zuckerberg to win, I’m definitely going for the latter… and as badass social slayers, maybe you should too.
So, what are your thoughts on this new feed change? Throw your questions, frustrations and angry shake fists in the comments below!