On January 11, 2018, Facebook announced that they will be making major changes to the Newsfeed Algorithm. In particular:

“we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about… we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

So why the change?

The optimist would say that Facebook’s research showed that people were tired of seeing and scrolling through endless page posts that did not inspire or engage, or that this is a return to the original Facebook before Pages.

The pessimist would say that if Facebook doesn’t have people’s comments and reactions then they can’t learn their behaviour. If they can’t learn your behaviour on the platform then advertisers can’t effectively target you.

Reality, as is its nature, probably sits somewhere between the two.  Consider that Facebook Ads are often paid by the click, or other interaction, then engaging Ads matter just as much as engaging posts. Additionally, ensuring that these Ads are put in front of those most likely to interact is key to driving greater revenue.  And to be honest, most of Facebook users were sick of scrolling past the endless viral videos to see what our friends and family were up to.

Does that mean that you will have to ‘pay to play’?

Over the past few years, with the increase in people running online businesses, there has been a growing voice that Facebook has become ‘pay to play’. This means that unless you run Facebook Ads, you won’t be seen by your customers.  The issue with this is that not all businesses can pay to play and some industries and locations are so sought after that they are cost prohibitive to most. For example, costs in Sydney and Melbourne are higher than other Australian Capital cities, costs to target fans of Oprah, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Lululemon are higher than non-celebrities.

But will that mean it will just get more expensive to run ads?

It is quite likely that costs will increase, especially if Page owners turn to ads rather than writing engaging posts. The key to running a cost effective ad has always been clever targeting. Businesses will need to move away from using Facebook’s broad ‘Interest’ based targeting during this period of change to a more direct targeting of pages and people their customers follow.

But what if you can’t afford to run ads?

It’s ok, Facebook Pages will still be needed, even to run ads and here are some of the reasons why.

So are Facebook Pages dead?

Not by a long shot!

If you decide that advertising is the only way to go then you will need a page to advertise from.

You will continue to need a page for those people who are looking up your business when researching a solution to their problem.

You will need to keep a Page current and active so that it looks as if your business is still running and you’re still interested in your Facebook fans.

You can game Facebook Zero by telling fans to change their setting for your Page to be notified or ‘have page show first’ then you will still be in their Newsfeed.

Some are suggesting that using a personal profile is now the best way to build a business. Other than this being against the Terms of Service, you’re limited to 5000 friends, you can’t advertise to them through your profile

However, the key to these changes is to have content people want to engage with, comment on, have a conversation with.

What kinds of posts will you need on your Facebook Page?

Researchers have found that there are three types of posts that drive engagement when someone is on Facebook:
– posts that appeal to our image on Facebook,
– posts that offer exclusivity, and
– posts that offer an incentive to comment.

However, with the move by Facebook to downgrade clickbait (Comment to win, Tag a friend) type posts, businesses would be wise to steer away from the incentive type posts.

Consistently using posts around exclusivity and incentive to react make the relationship with your Facebook fan one sided, in the end they feel used or you end up with people who are only there for the freebies.

Rather than a one-sided relationship or a page full of freebie hunters, this is what you post.

You need to concentrate on posts that focus on the image a customer has of themselves, a post that focuses on their goals, needs, beliefs etc.  The other part of this is our need to feel connected and online is no different. So posts that show you understand or share the fans’ image will get the most engagement but there’s an added bonus to these posts. The more a person understands and feels connected to a business, the more attached they become to a brand and the more likely they are to use that business (know like trust). With the high popularity of Facebook, building this relationship is key.

What does it all mean for Facebook Page owners in the end?

This is all going to take time as Algorithms are bedded in, tested, & tweaked – so should posting strategies be tested and tweaked.

Facebook have always been about people first and this is a back to the future scenario.

Engaging content will always win the customer, it always has. Now the number that will really count for business is how well they convert from Facebook rather than vanity metrics.

Your content MUST put your user first and foremost. You need to have engaging content and it must drive the person to interact. This always was the basis of the algorithm and will continue to be good business.