It's the end of the (Facebook) world as we know it

January 13, 2018

Facebook’s recent announcement about major changes to its timeline has triggered panic amongst page owners, marketers and agencies who use the platform heavily and created a variety of different opinions on the impending change.


For the most part, interpretations of the change suggest that people’s timelines will have more focus on friends and family (users) and will display less from brands, celebrities and influencers (pages).

 

Rather than regurgitate the news, we have curated some of the best responses to the change (in our humble opinion):
Mashable: Current Facebook Wants to Go Back To Old Facebook
Jon Loomer: The Facebook News Feed is Changing to Favor Person to Person Engagement
The Financial Times: Zuckerberg aims to save Facebook from itself
Wired: Facebook’s news feed u-turn is all about happiness (and advertising)
Mari Smith: How Will The Facebook Algo Change Impact Businesses? (Video)
Techcrunch: Facebook stock dips after the platform deprioritizes publishers

 

Read all of that? Good! Here’s our take.

 

Our Take


Let’s be frank, we expect that organic reach will be impacted by this for many brand Facebook Pages, which is bad news if you devote a lot of time to planning and publishing content on Facebook. It’s not a surprise - there have been headlines about the death of organic reach and “pay to play” on Facebook for years. No changes to the timeline in recent years have, as far as we can see, put people off using Facebook Pages.


But what might come of this (and it’d be a good thing) is increased quality content on people’s timelines and less spammy poor quality posts. 


According to Facebook’s post: “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution“. If you’re not using Facebook well now, your organic reach is going to be even less than it already is.


Quality content has always been the key ingredient for success, and it’s now more important than ever. Whether that’s quality over quantity or quality at scale remains to be seen.


What is a quality post? In Facebook’s own update, they highlight live video, video, events and “relevant updates” are mentioned - it’s a pretty vague description of what might perform well.
The announcement did cite their Facebook’s recent crackdown on engagement bait - posts that encourage (or beg) people to click here, like this, tag a mate, etc. is an example of how they’re trying to “clean up” the newsfeed for it’s 2bn+ users. That sort of post is no longer going to work and that’s something we welcome - it’s long overdue.


Common Reactions


Organic reach is dead - Facebook is now “pay to play”.
Not exactly. Organic reach for poor quality content will go down. Engagement bait posts will perform poorly. But with the right engaged audience and a good content strategy, we expect pages to maintain a good level of organic reach. However having a budget to promote important posts to people who don’t follow your page is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity.


Brands shouldn’t bother posting to Facebook anymore.
Hold your horses. There’s no detail on the mechanics of the timeline change. Your page’s posts may remain as visible as they are currently to people who like your page and the decrease might only be the “viral” element of reach - visibility to connections of those who engage with your content.


Final Thoughts


If you’re not creating quality content - video, posts that are useful or entertaining, etc. then your organic reach and engagement is already going to be poor. And it’s probably going to get worse.


Facebook’s a channel with over 30m UK users - around half of the UK’s population has a profile. To get some return on your use of it, you need to use it wisely and invest in quality and, where appropriate, promoted posts. But any company with a presence on Facebook should know that getting value from Facebook isn’t free and isn’t easy - just because you have a personal Facebook profile doesn’t mean you can make a brand page successful. Hire people who have the experience to do it or look for external support from specialists who have a team dedicated to getting the most from social media for your brand.


As with any proposed change, we will keep a close eye on what the adjustments really mean and will adapt if we need to.


It’s the end of the Facebook world as we know it, but we feel fine.
 

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