Businesses to take a hit from new Facebook rules

2014-12-02 07:00

The scrolling finger while on Facebook has become something similar to an automatic machine. The process stops when we find something interesting and stops when something isn’t worth our time. Self Promoting posts on Facebook mass produced by companies is a prime example of “something not worth our time”. This is precisely why Facebook is changing its algorithm in relation to self promoting Facebook posts.

Marketers, don’t panic just yet. The update is rolling out in January 2015, this gives you time (albeit short time) to research how you can change your Facebook advertising strategy. We don’t have information (yet) on what calibre the post needs to be, in order to qualify for the newsfeed.

The basic principle is that Facebook is looking for posts that educate, provide insight or are entertaining. I’m pretty sure that “get it now while it’s not too late!” promotional posts don’t fall into the three categories mentioned previously. Besides, as a Facebook user, wouldn’t you rather read something that speaks to you like “How analytics data can help you make strategic business decisions” - if you have 'liked' a digital agency.

Example of self promotional post:

Source: Buffer App

The domino effect

With change comes risk. It all starts with the Facebook user. Facebook depends on the activity of their users on their site, naturally. Which is why they are releasing this algorithm update. The emphasis on relevant quality content will hit ubiquitous self promoting Facebook pages hard. Their self promoted unpaid posts will eventually be distributed less, thus depending on their content strategy advertisers may have to spend more money on ads.

Analysts at Forrester Research said in a report released last week Monday that posts by well-known brands on Facebook reach only about 2% of their fans and followers, while on average fewer than 0.1% of people interact with each post. The researchers didn’t specifically measure the average reach of smaller brands’ Facebook posts. So perhaps in hindsight this change in algorithm is a slow progression to where it will be in January?

How will this affect Facebook's revenue? It could go either way, businesses might embrace the paid advertising or are they going to check out of Facebook completely - it remains to be seen. However, this change is all in aid of the user experience - which I support.

The contradiction

What will happen to the pages that solely rely on informing their customers of product discounts? Facebook users like the page for that exact reason. As of mid-January, will they now need to rely only on paid advertising? One has to consider whether these discount focused posts will be put in the same box as the lame self promotional posts.

Irrelevant or relevant, that is the question

There has been some speculation as to how Facebook plans to differentiate between quality content and weak content.

1. If the link in the post receives a high number of clicks, but low likes, shares or comments, Facebook will probably class it as a click bait.

2. Facebook may flag certain words or rely on a user to report a post that is too promotional.

This, however, is just speculation and by no means is concrete proof as to how the algorithm will work, but still something to keep in mind.

The Facebook user

Users look for stories from their friends and pages they actually care about. Self promotional posts are simply scrolled past and end up buried in the newsfeed graveyard. Engaging content, however, is not. This is what the algorithm is geared towards.

The importance of a Facebook page

Besides a website, a Facebook page can act as the gateway to an online community for any business (disclaimer needed for "any"). It creates a direct link between the customer and business. Prospective customers can find out information about a business on the page and make queries about their product or service. If other Facebook users notice that your company responds promptly, helpfully and professionally to comments and enquiries, your customer base will grow.

It all comes back to one focal point. Quality content, which potentially plays into the hands of Google's latest algorithm updates. Linking well written blogs through your Facebook posts is what people will appreciate. A blog written with passion and interest generates a lot more interest than a slap dash marketing campaign. This update is going to force many marketers to stop being lazy about the way they market their products. The creative, entertaining and informative side of marketing is coming out, so be prepared!

In ending, the following questions come to mind:

- Are you creating content that caters for the whole customer journey?

- Are you educating your customer base through content?

- Are you answering questions through content?

- Does your content give you or your business credibility?

- How does typography and design affect your content?

- Does your content speak to the customer further down the sales funnel?

Keep these questions top of mind the next time you create a digital marketing campaign.

Stay calm and market on.

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