On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced some major changes to the way they will build Facebook.

Moving forward, the focus will shift from helping users find relevant content to helping users have more “meaningful social interactions”. The change will affect various elements of the platform’s user experience and products, starting with the News Feed.

In the short term, the News Feed algorithm will de-emphasize “public posts”  from brands, businesses and media companies. Therefore, users will begin to see less public content from these entities and more content from friends, family and Facebook groups. This new standard aimed at driving “meaningful interactions between people” will not delete a Page’s content from the News Feed entirely.

However, Facebook has acknowledged that this shift will result in a overall decline in engagement and time spent on the platform. It appears Facebook believes that it can trade short-term gains (time spent in News Feed) for longer-term gains (happier users engage more often).  This is also evident in another recent announcement regarding penalizing posts using “engagement baiting” tactics such as “Tag five friends” (more examples pictured below).

It is not all bleak! Here are three implications to consider for clients who are active or just starting to think about Facebook.

  • Paid Ads – Because Facebook is a publicly traded company, we suspect that revenue streams such as advertising will not be affected (for now). Therefore, brands should look at this as the ultimate “ wake up call” to incrementally invest in creating and testing highly targeted social media campaigns.
  • Messenger – Over the last two years, Facebook has been working to increase usage of Facebook Messenger. There is no indication that this recent update will affect the Messenger environment. Brands should integrate Messenger as part of their channel mix plan. They can start by leveraging the various ad products available to businesses that want to get into the “new inbox”. Facebook Messenger can evolve a brand’s CRM strategy and set new benchmarks for open rates.
  • Measure Quality – Brands should continue to create quality content that offers value to their community and monitor performance to understand what performs best in the eyes of their fans (and the algorithm).

We will continue to monitor this update and will incorporate learnings into content strategies and ad plans as needed.