With the dawn of 2018, every brand hurriedly hatched out social media strategies to kickstart the new year with a bang. I, for one, being a social media strategist, was jotting down well-crafted ideas in full swing when Facebook halted me in my tracks on January 12, 2018, and made me reconsider my approach.

The News Feed Algorithm bomb

Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would update its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from family and friends over brand content. Now, when brands post content on their pages, the algorithm will determine if, and where, the content will appear on your newsfeed. This effectively changed the focus from helping users find relevant content to helping them have more “meaningful social interactions”.

These days, quite a handful of users have “memeful” social interactions. However, with the algorithm update, we are not sure if these interactions will thrive. Personally, I am more engaged to the “Game Of Laughs” page than the official “Game of Thrones” page. Since the former has a lot of memes, I am more engaged with it. Now, with the new updates in place, are we going to see less of our favourite pages and more of our friends’ updates? Yes…and no.

Content, that’s relevant, will still be the king

With the new update, people would see less of public content from brands and pages. So, your Buzzfeed quizzes, awe-inspiring Mashable news, and cute cat videos are going to take a backseat and are likely to pop more often if your friends like them too. Whereas, a thousand selfies from an irritating NRI aunt may get prioritized to appear on the top of your News Feed. Oh, what joy!

Zuckerberg stated that Facebook’s research showed that if people connected over friends on social media, that positively affected their well being. He went on to say that it may not do well for them to passively consume information, however informative or entertaining it may be.

How would annoying updates from friends contribute to our positive mental health instead of inspirational content from “Humans of Bombay” is incomprehensible to me. I may probably gain some clarity in a couple of months.

However, what of brands and pages that have thrived so far?

Brands battle with algorithms

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Brands and pages have to work extra hard to get organic reach and gain customers’ attention. The more comments and interactions a post has, the more likely that it meets the meaningful interaction criterion to end up on a person’s News Feed. If I have engaged with Buzzfeed in the past, I am likely to see the brand on my news feed, provided it continues to consistently engage me in the future.

The update may bring a positive change to the audience because it pushes brands to create quality content that sparks a conversation among audiences. Quality will rule quantity. The odds of one post becoming a trending topic are more if it is newsworthy enough to excite a large number of people. If a couple of my friends share or comment on a brand’s post, it is more likely to appear on my feed. However, this is a double-edged sword — it could be breaking news about an earthquake or Taimur’s burp.

Combat strategies to calm brands down

Brands have to think beyond click-baits and engagement-baits, as content with such call-to-action statements will get demoted. Instead, content on timely and relevant topics will incite participation immediately.

If you are a brand, ask questions, have opinions, and encourage users to visit your pages often for exciting news.

Understand your buyer persona and target your specific audiences using ads. Use Facebook Live if you haven’t already. Facebook groups are gold mines for getting the right audiences to talk about your products; invest your time crafting strategies for these groups.

In conclusion,

As a brand, if you feel clueless, Zuckerberg has left some bread crumbs for you:

“…There are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience’, said Zuckerberg.

So, what should you keep doing to be on your A-game?

  1. Post live Facebook videos
  2. Post relevant and timely content
  3. Create content that sparks reactions and conversations immediately
  4. Ask questions and dare to be opinionated
  5. Engage users on Facebook groups
  6. Encourage users to visit your page often

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