On Jan. 11, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the company is making major changes to its News Feed. It will shift focus away from “helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
What does this means for Facebook users? They’ll see fewer posts from businesses, brands and media and more from family, friends and groups. Conversational interactions, such as comments and shares, are at the heart of the new model, tossing clicks, video views and likes to the sidelines.
The changes were expected, but they were still a rude awakening for publishers, which have come to rely on organic social strategies to put content in front of Facebook users.
Here’s what the changes could mean for media organizations:
Decreased reach, video watch time and referral traffic
As Facebook pivots toward an algorithm that “values meaningful interactions between people,” posts aimed at reaching users, gaining views and driving traffic will see reduced distribution. Performance will fall and organizations that rely predominantly on these types of posts will have to modify their strategies to include more content that drives conversation.
Increased investment in Facebook advertising
It should be noted that the news-feed changes will have no direct effect on advertisements shown in those feeds. The advertising algorithm will continue to display content that is unique, relevant and of high quality.
What we will see is publishers who rely on organic posting strategies to drive website traffic begin investing in or ramping up investments in paid advertising. Though Facebook shares dipped at the news, analysts doubt it will have a significant impact on the company’s advertising revenue. In the medium and long term, media organizations will invest in paid advertising as a way to help them attain past results.
Emphasis on content that encourages community connection
Companies will tailor posting strategies to include more content that encourages community. Whether it’s starting a Facebook group for a specific subset of users or posts that spur discussion, media organizations will need to change their strategies.
Simple updates and clickbait content won’t cut it any more. Content that encourages sharing and conversation between family and friends will be given a premium spot over passive content that doesn’t drive person-to-person engagement.
Though it is too early to know the full impact of the changes, it will be interesting to see how media companies respond. Facebook is aware of the importance of content from media organizations for their users.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Our commitment to being a good partner will not change, but the approach and strategies will be different. Going forward, our products and partnerships will focus on supporting publishers that help people form meaningful engagement around news. We must partner more closely than ever with these high-quality news organizations — not just the national names, but also local newsrooms, who are the cornerstones of informed communities.”