In the wake of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announcing his plans to reprioritise “meaningful social interactions” over “relevant content” on users’ newsfeeds, businesses are rightfully worried about what this means for their Facebook pages.
Under the well-intentioned guise of improving the user experience, Facebook has forced the hands of business page owners who now need to spend money on advertising and ‘boosting’ posts in order to gain visibility on the platform. It’s no coincidence that the algorithm change has seen ad prices increase, sending Facebook stock to a record high.
Facebook is still a business, first and foremost. And while it may seem the founders and execs are looking out for the mental health and wellbeing of their users, it’s still very much a numbers game for the social media phenomenon.
So, what does this mean for your business page?
Firstly, users will no longer see your posts unless they are 1) ‘Following’ you and 2) setting their preference on your page to ‘See First’. The number of ‘Likes’ your page has will not be taken into account, and fans will not see your content unless your page is being ‘Followed’ and ‘Seen First’.
All of Facebook’s 65 million Business Pages are likely to see engagement levels rapidly decline in the coming weeks, but those hit the hardest will be small businesses using Facebook as a free marketing tool for their products or services.
This is an alarming prospect for small businesses in the consumer or tourism sector. Those lacking high numbers of engagement will likely fall off the grid entirely once the new algorithm hides all content lacking reactions, comments or shares.
From a PR perspective, businesses trying to maintain their own social media management will become increasingly challenged in reaching their desired audience. Businesses will need to become creative or prepare to budget for advertising on the platform. The need for social media experts to help influence Facebook algorithms through copy, image and content choice will increase.
BBC Scotland News and others with in-house social media managers have already moved to retain engagement, through Facebook posts alerting users to the changes and encouraging fans to select ‘See First’.
Users may be happier with the newsfeed changes, but is this really about Facebook reducing newsfeed noise for their wellbeing? Or is it instead, as many have suggested, a clever trick to once again increase the company’s profitability?
These are the personal views of Rebecca Dawson, Account Executive at Pagoda Porter Novelli.