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Last week, the veritable king of social media, Mark Zuckerberg, announced significant changes to Facebook. Whilst there’s talk on a near-monthly basis of Facebook altering its algorithms to the untrained eye this makes very little difference to the user experience.
This time it’s different.

This time, the changes will drastically alter Facebook’s mainstay – the news feed.

Facebook seemingly wants to take its news feed back to its original purpose: keeping you in touch with friends and family. Brand and company pages are all well and good, but for Facebook organic engagement should come from your nearest and dearest. If brands want exposure – or more importantly engagement – on Facebook, it’s looking increasingly like they’ll have to start paying to achieve it.

Let’s take a look at the official announcement:

“With this update, we will prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed…”

To us, that sounds like Mr Z is clamping down on ‘engagement bait’. You know, those ‘LIKE this post if you love dogs’, ‘VOTE for whether the milk should be put in the tea first or last’, ‘SHARE this post for a chance to win’ posts that you mindlessly scroll past on your news feed. As of last week, they’re gone.

Well, maybe they’re not completely gone. They’ve been demoted. Posts that try to coax Facebook users into interacting with their posts have been bumped down the list of priorities under the new algorithm.

Although any social media expert worth their salt will tell you that baiting users into interacting with your post is a bad idea, we’re willing to bet that everyone reading this has been tagged in a ‘TAG a friend who does this…’ style post.

Whether it’s from big brands, small companies or your mum’s next-door neighbour Suze who’s trying to get her new business off the ground, these posts are occurring – and succeeding -far too much for Facebook’s liking. So, rather than just demoting all engagement baiting posts, Facebook is going to look at pages that are repeatedly using bait as a tactic, and impose stricter penalties.

The process is being introduced slowly over a number of weeks to give such pages the chance to update their content strategies and move towards genuine engagement.

So far, so good, right?

Back to Facebook…

“We will also prioritise posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values…”

Woah. There it is. The bit no-one was expecting.

Facebook is going to prioritise content from your personal connections over the brands and pages that you have chosen to follow.

Fewer video recipes from Tasty in your news feed and more pictures of that girl you went to school with’s baby.

Unless, of course, that brand or page has paid to advertise on Facebook. In that case, they’ll be slipped seamlessly into your daily feed.

Is it really all as doom and gloom as it seems for businesses, though?

We say no!

Actually, this algorithm rethink could be a gift for Facebook’s business users who have active and engaged audiences.

Imagine that you follow a brand on Facebook. It posts a genuinely interesting video that you genuinely tag your friend in. Your friend replies to your comment and you have a nice little chat about the video…

Then a second friend chips in to your conversation, because your genuine, organic, 100% natural engagement with the post means that it has been shown in that friend’s news feed too.

Regardless of the brand’s size or the post’s content (within Facebook’s content guidelines, obviously), user engagement that’s not been coerced in anyway is deemed to be the most valuable factor under the new algorithm.

This means that small brand pages with small engaged audiences can outperform the big budget pages with thousands of likes but no activity amongst fans.

Facebook has kind of come out in support of the little guys!

If you’re still feeling daunted by the new ‘meaningful’ era of Facebook, then here are three things to consider:

– what style of content are you currently posting?
– why isn’t your audience engaging with your page?
– how can you make your content more appealing to your followers?

…and if you’re still not sure, that’s where Midnight comes in!

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