Managing the Impact of Facebook’s Newsfeed Changes

January 17, 2018

Facebook announced important changes to its newsfeed algorithm last week. The changes prioritize consumer engagement on the platform and have important implications for brand marketing and public relations. Our digital strategists from around the world have decoded the changes. Here’s where we’ve landed…

1. Social Network:
Social relationships and interactions (reactions, comments and shares) are the strongest signal for content in the newsfeed.

2. Facebook Zero:
Posts from brand pages are set to be throttled back to zero. Organic posting is no longer an option. Paid promotion required.

Expert Comment: Rachel Winer, Director, Paid Media
“I predict the most prominent impact will be on Facebook organic client page reach. Brands will evaluate their content strategy in the coming weeks in order to prioritize garnering Facebook audience engagements over website clicks. In doing so, likely at an initial slightly higher cost per action, paid Facebook ads will need to correspond with this new content approach in order to maximize overall ROI.”

3. Consumers First:
Consumers have control over what they see and what they don’t, but very few tweak settings. Can you make your stories so valuable that people want to see them first?

4. Video and Events:
Live video is still being prioritized over all other forms of content. Facebook continues to chase a position in the events business.

Expert Comment: Amit Wadehra, Vice President, Digital
“Brands have responded to Facebook’s call for more video, but the newsfeed has become a passive experience. Expect to see more video that drives meaningful engagement like live video.”

5. Conversation:
Meaningful engagement and discussion that keeps people coming back will bounce in the newsfeed and keep surfacing up top.

6. Social Purpose:
Brands that listen to consumers and create meaningful content and conversation will rise up the newsfeed.

Expert Comment: Jim Lin, Senior Vice President, Creative Director
“Working with consumers to create conversation around and about your brand, or share your content, has always been the holy grail of social media marketing. It is simply more important than ever because being able to tap into consumer actions (what Facebook would consider personal) to promote your brand has now become a much higher imperative.”

7. Groups vs. Pages:
Groups are an opportunity for brands but need to be non-commercial. Can you build a community around your location, event or organization?

8. Word of Mouth:
Optimize your marketing or public relations effort for word of mouth and social sharing.

Expert Comment: Gur Tsabar, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy & Innovation
“Brands that consciously help facilitate interactions and connectivity among consumers are the ones that will outperform on the platform. And while there may be skepticism that these changes will reverse the trend of people de-positioning Facebook in their lives, this reinforces the belief that brands must strive to meet these exact engagement hurdles to succeed socially and beyond.”

9. Strong and Under-utilized Signals
Seeking recommendations, events, reviews and check-ins are strong signals. This is an under-utilised place for brands to play.

10. Negative Signals
Any negative consumers signal such as mute or hide, will push content down the newsfeed.

Expert Comment: Amit Wadehra, Vice President, Digital
“Weaknesses in the previous newsfeed algorithm have been exploited by marketers with click bait headlines or engagement bait headlines. We expect brands that continue to employ those tactics to be punished by the Facebook newsfeed.”

If you’d like to talk to us about working with your organization to tackle any of the issues raised, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or comment below.

Many thanks to Jim Lin, Gur Tsabar, Amit Wadehra and Rachel Winer.

Stephen is a Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University. Chairman of Future Proof policy unit and Past President, CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too.

Connect with him on Twitter: @wadds