Are you ready for the major Facebook news feed change of 2018? Because wow, things are definitely going to change. But how? In this blog we explain what’s changing, why Facebook is making the change, and how to ensure you’re ready for it. This is a blog you’ll want to read.
What is Facebook changing?
“…posts from businesses, brands and media is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” - Mark Zuckerberg*
In short, the Facebook news feed is about to get more personal. For all Facebook users the news feed will feature more posts by people they know and less posts by businesses they Like.
Why is Facebook doing this?
Executives at Facebook saw the writing on the wall (and congressional hearings) that they needed to do something to increase Facebook’s user experience quality.
When it was created, Facebook was not made for companies. It was made to connect people across various fancy colleges then onto non-ivy leaguers and then, finally, onto people like me.
The original business model was that there was no business model. (Hey, Eduardo Saverin tried, but Zuckerberg was only focused on growth. Didn't you see The Social Network?!) Facebook was created to help people connect with people they already knew, used to know, or should know. All while collecting their personal data along the way which would eventually be used to monetize Facebook. And monetize they did.
But things have taken a turn for Facebook. Their platform has, in a sense, been highjacked by businesses. It’s still a place to see your aunt Marie’s newest apple pie recipe, but only if the Facebook algorithm decides on your behalf that it’s something you should see over a post from Progressive Insurance, a company you only “Like” on Facebook because they once offered you a 5% discount for doing so.
This has even lead Facebook itself to write a blog titled “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?” In that blog they outline the ways in which Facebook can make its own users depressed. Yikes. If a company has to give you instructions on how to avoid becoming depressed while using their product, is it any different than those pharmaceutical commercials where 90% of the commercial is telling you how the medication might kill you?
So really, this news feed change is just a return to Facebook’s roots. They went after the money, succeeded handsomely, but have now realized it’s a risk to continue down this path of growth at any cost vs. true organic connections between people their users actually care about. Not only is it a risk to their long-term bottomline, it’s a risk to their 2-billion user’s mental health.
However, as beneficial as this news feed change will be for the platform and its users, it might stink for businesses… at first. While we don’t yet know the full extent of these changes, there are some pretty surefire things you can prepare for that will help your business continue to gain valuable leads and increase retention through the world’s largest social network.
Influencers and referrals will become even more important.
As I said earlier, one of the definite news feed changes for Facebook users will be less posts from businesses and more posts from people they know. That means your business needs to find another way of getting in front of your current Facebook followers and potential followers (i.e. future members/clients at your business). To do this, you’ll need to get people talking about your business on their personal Facebook news feeds.
Unless you're a large, multi-location fitness business, you probably won't need to create an influencer program where you pay famous people or famous-in-your-industry people to talk about your business. A better and more reliable way to get people talking is to create a referral program. However, it can’t just be any referral program. You want one that incorporates social media like Perkville.
Members who take part in your Perkville referral program are rewarded for posting to their own Facebook pages thus getting your business in front of your member’s Facebook friends. The more you can encourage and reward your members for posting to their Facebook page, the more awesome members just like them those posts will bring in. Your member gets rewarded as does your business as does the person they’ve referred.
And if you want to enhance your referral program even more, you can automate the process with Club OS by setting up an automatic email to send to members that meet certain criteria. For example, you don't necessarily want to ask people on a trial to post to their Facebook page (unless you know they're incredibly happy during their trial). However, you would definitely want happy, long-term members posting as you know they're more likely to post something positive and can really speak to how your business has benefitted them. Learn more about automating these types of emails with Club OS!
The content you post “should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”*
Start conversations. Be (carefully) controversial. Have opinions. Basically, on social media in 2018, your business is less a business and more a “person.” You need to get people talking about your business and anything related to it.
Think about the recent change Lifetime Fitness made when they decided to remove cable news stations from TVs across all of their locations. Some people didn’t like it, some people loved it, but regardless it got people talking and it sure did make the rounds on social media.
From Facebook’s own blog post, they encourage businesses to post more live video and, specifically for local businesses, host events. Both of those seem to get people talking more than just an update with an inspirational quote about fitness.
You may need to spend money to get attention.
A guaranteed way to get in front of people on Facebook, whether they Like your Page or not, is with Facebook advertising. This has been the case for years and most likely won’t be changing with the news feed updates. This is where the news feed updates Facebook is making start to sound a bit less about user benefit and more about “paying to play.”
With these news feed changes, Facebook is making it more difficult for a business to get in front of their own followers and potential new ones, but will allow you to circumvent the new changes if you pay to do so. Hmm… 🤔
But hey, that’s just the way things are and always will be. Good content talks, but so does money. My suggestion is that you do both. Focus on creating excellent, topical, conversation-starting content while at the same time beefing up your Facebook advertising efforts.
Yes, your followers can still see your posts no matter what.
…but it’ll take some encouragement from you. According to Facebook’s official announcement, people that Like a Facebook Page can manually tell Facebook that they still want to see whatever that particular Page posts even if it doesn’t fit the criteria of “prompting conversations.”
“People who want to see more posts from Pages they follow can choose See First in News Feed Preferences to make sure they always see posts from their favorite Pages.”
Personally, I’m already dreading the forthcoming “helpful” instructions from the business Pages I follow on Facebook encouraging me (demanding?) that I make the adjustments so that their posts don’t go unseen.
However, it’s completely understandable that businesses would do this. Just because a business isn’t constantly posting content that’s “prompting conversations” doesn’t mean their posts don’t deserve to be seen by those that Like their page. My point is, you should strive to be elegant about it. Don’t make Facebook’s point for them by constantly posting to demand that your followers change their settings to allow your posts to come through.
A better idea might be to send out an email mentioning the Facebook change and reminding your audience the value they get from Liking your Facebook Page in the first place. Will they miss out on promotions? Giveaways? Events? This is also a great strategy to get even more Likes for your page from people that aren’t already Likers.