On January 11th 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that there would be a new Facebook algorithm. As with every big announcement from Facebook or Google, there was the inevitable panic and prophecies of doom as advertisers and brands rushed to make sense of the news. Realistically, these updates really only end up affecting a small group of users, reducing the tornado of change to a draft of inconvenience. In this article we will give you the breakdown of what those inconveniences, if any, will be.
There is some evidence to suggest that social media might negatively affect people’s lives by impacting their mood and overall mental health. This is a fact that Facebook has had to acknowledge, by asserting that the passive consumption of information (even for 10minutes a day) has been shown to have a negative effect on users’ moods. As a result of this trend, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” which is what’s driving the change in Facebook’s algorithm. Facebook says that it expects that this change in algorithm will mean that people will spend less time on their site, but the quality of their experience will increase.
For the user, this means less posts from brands, publishers and media outlets and more content from friends and family, to promote engagement and discussion and counter the negative impact of passive scrolling. For advertisers and brands engaged with Facebook ads, the impact is much less profound. However, the update will force advertisers and brands to produce ads and posts that generate engagement and discussion among users.
Facebook has increasingly become a pay to play arena for brands and advertisers. Unpaid content has had less and less return for businesses over the past 4-5 years, which increases competition in the Facebook ad platform and drives the cost of advertising higher. The new algorithm weights the value of a comment or reply over a like or share, meaning businesses will have to design their marketing to encourage users to perform those actions; don’t be surprised when “tag a friend to win a free coffee” style sponsored posts become the new flavor of the month. The alternative is to focus on creating high-quality, relevant and interesting ads that encourage users to engage with the content – this should be a key consideration when producing Facebook creative.
This new algorithm is designed to help filter out the old “clickbait” style posts that encourage users to like and share, which has been an ongoing effort with Facebook for close to a year. This news is really more of a reminder that they are still trying to stop this type of content, and the algorithm update is just a shiny new tool to help them do it.
In summary, Facebook wants to give their users a better experience, to keep them engaged and using Facebook for the reason it was created: to allow people to socialise. They think they can do this by rewarding businesses who produce ads and content that their users will enjoy and engage with.
This might seem like a massive shift in focus towards the interest of the almost 2 billion monthly users, but Facebook’s revenue is still derived from businesses and brands, not from over-hyped videos where you won’t believe what happens next. So Facebook will continue its quest for the hearts and minds of the common man, while continuing to sell those hearts and minds to the highest bidder (so long as they promise to leave that clickbait at the door).
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