Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to what you see in your news feed and sent news publishers and businesses scrambling, again, when it comes to connecting to their audiences online. Facebook has invested millions in becoming a must-have marketing tool for businesses and created an entirely new way to engage with brands and share information. If we are to believe this latest change to news feed algorithms, they are biting the hand that feeds them.

TL; DR: Facebook continues to squeeze business pages to pay for engagement and visibility on its platform. Without a paid strategy, your organic reach and engagement will drop significantly.

Let’s first look at their statement and reasoning:

…The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. 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…

Read the entire statement here.

Facebook’s lofty goal of claiming they want to see more meaningful personal connections on Facebook is a bit disingenuous after their aggressive courting of brands and publishers to invest so heavily in advertising through their platform.  So, now that they have announced this change brands and publishers are left to ask what this really means for a marketing and advertising strategy that has ballooned to a significant portion of their media strategy and budget.

While we don’t know exactly how this will impact engagement and long-term strategy for brands on Facebook, we can look at previous changes to gain some insight. Facebook has already shown that they are not a media company, but a data company and an advertising venue. The ‘pay to play’ strategy they implemented for brands reduced organic engagement from business pages to less than 10% and in some cases to zero without a business paying to “boost” the post or otherwise creating a paid strategy to be seen and generate engagement.  From this previous strategy we can only surmise that this will require even more spending on the behalf of business pages to be seen on Facebook. All of this comes as time spent on the social network is on the decline and, while still the top social media destination, Millenials are abandoning the platform altogether for Instagram (Which Facebook owns) and Snapchat, among others. We will certainly have to keep an eye on performance for our clients to continue current spend levels.

How can you boost engagement?

  1. Work with social media strategist to ensure you are using “best practices” when posting and curating content for Facebook
  2. Create a budget and schedule for social media. Realize you are working with an advertising vendor.
  3. Change the type of posts you are making from passive information to engaging and organic type conversational type posts.
  4. Create “Facebook Live” and video content, use photos to boost conversations, shareability and engagement
  5. Ask us to help create and manage your social media presence and evaluate where you are spending your advertising budget for efficacy.