The Big Facebook News Feed Algorithm Change of 2018

Mark Zuckerberg rocked the social media landscape again this month with an announcement about changes in Facebook’s news feed algorithm.

The new Facebook update will change what we see in our news feeds. Facebook will no longer focus on showing users “relevant content.” The new algorithm change will instead prioritize “more meaningful social interactions,” Mark Zuckerberg said. This change has caused quite a stir among the platform’s users with mixed reactions especially given the huge ramifications it will have for small businesses.

Right now, over half the posts in a typical Facebook user’s news feed are from businesses, brands and news-related topics, but not for long. Facebook is poised to fundamentally shift the feed to emphasize personal posts that generate conversation and display less from businesses, brands and media. Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be more of a community than an entertainment platform where people scroll indefinitely and never engage with others. Does this mean business posts will no longer be seen? No, it doesn’t, but businesses will have to adjust their strategies to maintain the same level of exposure they have enjoyed in the past.

Jump to Business Strategy

Why Would Mark Zuckerberg Do Such a Thing?

If there is one thing Facebook is good at, it’s collecting data on its users and using that data to change the way the platform operates in order to maximize the number of users and generate profit. On the surface, the algorithm update looks like it flies in the face of Facebook’s past behavior. The company took a huge hit the morning after the previous evening’s announcement about the change losing almost 5% of its stock’s value on the opening bell. This may seem like a small amount, but for a company as large as Facebook, it means billions. Zuckerberg even admitted the update will mean users will spend less time on Facebook because there will be less content to scroll through. So, what is going on?

In November of 2017, Facebook published a post that claimed “passive” social media use can be harmful and that the platform would be shifting to a more active and communal site. It seems Mark has been doing some research and explains how he concluded that social media is only good for users’ wellbeing if they use it to “connect with people we care about.” Now, Zuckerberg claims a moral obligation to “make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and happiness.” We all expected a change but no one expected it to be this extreme. It looks like a major shift is being applied to improve user experience, which will, in turn, help the platform over the long run.

No Change to Facebook Paid Ads

Almost mysteriously, however, there will be no change to Facebook paid ads. Small businesses that rely on their organic presence to promote their brands will be hurt the most. They may not have much money to spend on ads, but if they want to be seen on Facebook going forward, they may have to dig up some spare change. On the plus side, ads are expected to perform better after the update. All this is not saying that organic reach is dead. There are strategies to make up for it and there are some things we can do to improve organic reach to compensate for the change. We will go over these options later.

How Will the Algorithm Change Affect Me and My Business?

My New Personal News Feed

Your new Facebook feed will show you more things from people who are important to you than things that are important to you.

  • You will see less of those annoying Facebook video ads that blast you with unexpected max volume music and overenthusiastic rapid-fire sales pitches.
  • You will see fewer clickbait and share=like posts etc, as the new algorithm change limits the number of posts you see that, even though they may have many likes and shares, don’t promote community engagement through comments and conversation.
  • You will see more posts from friends and family. Not only that, you will see more posts from those friends and family who you talk to the most. This is a step back, though not a full redaction, of a previous update, which began limiting the number of friends’ posts you see on your news feed.
  • You will see fewer posts and videos about topics you are interested in and more posts from friends you are interested in.
  • Your posts that people comment on will get more views.

Your Facebook Business Strategies Will Need To Change

The voice of your business on Facebook will be diminished unless you change your strategy. Here’s why:

  • Organic posts from business and brand pages will be shown less than they have been in the past.
  • Likes and shares won’t help your posts as much as they used too.
  • You need comments on your posts to get the same post popularity that likes and shares alone supported in the past. This may not be much of a problem for pages with a large following, but it can hurt small business pages.
  • You may have to buy more ads to get the same exposure, but your ads are likely to perform better than they have in the past.

What Can I Do To Help My Business?

Facebook Tips for Business

Create Engaging Content

If you do nothing else, make sure you are following the next two bullet points when you post on Facebook:

  • I’m sure you’ve heard this before, Facebook favors posts that get more engagement. And you need to write relevant interesting content to get that engagement. You still need to do that, but the game has changed a bit. Likes and shares won’t carry your posts alone anymore. They are still important but not the primary factor in post popularity once the change is implemented. You need content that inspires the commenting type of engagement. Comments are everything. I can’t say it enough. Comments, comments, comments.
  • Use open-ended questions to inspire comment and discussion, but don’t ask people to comment below. Asking people to comment is considered spam by Facebook. It will kill your post. What works is making a statement about something interesting and relevant and asking the viewer if they have had similar experiences or what they have done in similar situations, etc.

Join Some Groups

  • People in groups tend to comment and discuss things more. Groups are great places to write posts that generate engagement and conversation about topics relevant to your business. These are just the kinds of posts that Facebook will be prioritizing, so it’s a win-win.
  • Groups are another channel to promote your business that you might not be taking advantage of. People in groups tend to care about the same things, or they wouldn’t have joined the group. When you join groups that are based on interests related to your business, your posts are being targeted to people who are interested in what you have to say about your business already.

Expand Your Social Horizons

  • You wouldn’t waste your time with people who ignore you. You would find new friends. It’s the same with social media. Use some of the time you devote to Facebook to explore other options such as Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube to name a few.

Ask Users to Favorite Your Page

  • Businesses ads and posts will still show up more often in someone’s feed if the visitor favorites the business. Ask your followers to favorite your page if they find the content helpful so they don’t miss out on important updates. Just ask them to click the drop-down box on the “Following” tab and select “See First.” It is a good idea to start doing this now so your page is ready when the updates are rolled out.

Use More Live Video

  • Facebook will be showing less video to users but that doesn’t count for live video. Live video is what it is, live. It is immediately engaging and Facebook likes that. It will prioritize live video in your business followers’ feeds.

Try Some Ads

Facebook ads are a surefire way to get exposure, and results based on the goals you are trying to achieve. Even if you only have a small budget of $5 a day, that is better than doing nothing at all. An added bonus of running most Facebook ads is that you will get page likes as an indirect result due to the increased exposure.

Help With Ads

If you are just getting started with Facebook ads, it will take some practice, but with a little patience, you can run some basic ads that will help drive traffic to your business. If you are lost in the sauce or floundering under the burden of running multiple and/or advanced campaigns, we suggest contacting a professional marketing agency such as Aristotle Interactive for help. Give us a call anytime during normal business hours at 1-800-995-2747 for a free consultation to discuss your options on Facebook and other platforms. We can help you become more effective organically and assist you with ad strategies that will maximize exposure for your business.

Here are some virtues of running Facebook ads:

  • Boosting a post guarantees views. If you want your business to have the same level of exposure after the update, boosts are a great way to get more views and exposure to your posts.
  • Organic business posts may not get as much exposure, but that frees up a whole lot of room for ads to show. In fact, without as much competition from organic business posts, your ads will probably perform better than ever before.
  • Facebook ads have an ever-expanding network. Not only do ads show on Facebook, you can also set them to appear on Messenger, Instagram and an extensive audience network of partner sites.
  • Facebook ads have become much more complicated over the last few years, but that is because there are more targeting options and audience networks to choose from. There are many more ways to show your ads to users interested in your brand of content than even a couple years ago. There are so many options, in fact, that it is easier to just list them than try to fit them in a paragraph.
    • Locations. Target ads to people based on locations (ex: country, state, province, city, congressional district, zip or postal code). Most objectives let you target worldwide (type in “worldwide”), by region (ex: “Europe”), by free trade area (ex: “NAFTA”, the North American Free Trade Agreement) or by app store availability (ex: “iTunes app store countries”).
    • Age. Target ads to people within an age range.
    • Gender. Target ads to women, men or people of all genders.
    • Languages. Target ads to users of certain languages.
    • Detailed Targeting. Include or exclude people from an audience based on demographics, interests and/or behaviors.
    • Connections. Include or exclude people from your audience based on connections to your Pages, apps or events.

Let’s not forget custom audiences. They deserve a list of their own:

  • Retargeting. You can make retargeting audiences from a whole range of engagement data:
    • People who like your page
    • Email and/or phone number lists you upload
    • People who visited your website or a specific page on your website
    • People who visited your website but didn’t visit specific pages
    • People who spent a certain amount of time on your site or page
    • By what device they used to visit and how often.
      • These rules are mix and match as well for a completely customizable audience.
  • Lookalike. Want to grow your audience? You can use most of the retargeting options above to have Facebook generate large lookalike audiences, which have the same behavior and interests as people who have interacted with your content before. For example: From a 1000 person retargeting audience, you can create and target a 100k+ lookalike audience of people with similar characteristics to your past customers.

But wait, there’s more! There are several different types of campaigns you can run based on the goals and objectives you want to achieve:

  • Awareness
    • Brand Awareness
    • Reach
  • Consideration
    • Traffic
    • App Installs
    • Engagement
    • Video Views
    • Lead Generation
    • Messages
  • Conversion
    • Conversions
    • Catalog Sales
    • Store Visits

And that’s not all! There are many different types of ads you can run in each campaign ad set for a truly customizable presentation:

  • Ad Types
    • Photo
    • Video
    • Carousel
    • Slideshow
    • Collection
    • Canvas Ads
    • Lead Ads
    • Dynamic Ads
    • Link Ads

If you think this looks like a long list of options, you are right. There are even more options for ad performance, like optimization & delivery, button types and tracking options. There is also the messaging itself to consider. It should be relevant and compelling with a good Call-To-Action to inspire engagement. 

Here are some extra tips to help you get the most out of your Facebook ads:

  • Make sure you have generated your Facebook pixel and embedded it on your website and third-party success sites. The data the pixel collects over time is invaluable for analytics, future retargeting and expanded audience campaigns.
  • Always use a strong CTA in your ads to increase engagement and ROI
  • Make sure your landing page is user-friendly and fully optimized
  • Make sure your ad messaging is relevant to the landing page
  • Use multiple ads with unique images in a single ad group for image ads so Facebook can optimize performance based on which images work best
  • If your retargeting audiences are small, set a manual CPC bid cap to avoid overspending for clicks

The Bottom Line

You will have to get more creative with your business posts and generate conversation in order to compete in the future. You will need to post more often and you should probably run some ads. Time to roll up the sleeves so-to-speak and get busy.