Whether it be a business or a brand, any kind of Facebook Page is going to be awarded a fat lot less screen time with its followers. Or rather, content from ‘friends, family and groups’ will be prioritised, as was announced on 11th January 2018 by Overlord Zuckerberg himself. Initially worrying though it is, all change presents opportunity. MeetEdgar‘s CEO, Laura Roeder has a fab outlook on the situation, which she discusses in her Facebook live video:
“I think these things can always be opportunities to rise above the crowd and stick around when maybe other businesses are scared.”
~Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar
Moves like these from Facebook perpetually force businesses and outlets alike to continuously readdress their output, ensuring it’s offering legitimate value to its consumers and engaging them at a high level (As if we all don’t struggle with that as is!). Note our phraseology, ‘legitimate value’: Facebook are cracking down harder than ever on overt click/engagement-bait, with their recent disallowance of ‘tag a friend’ or ‘share this post’ competitions/content calls-to-action. So whether you’re creating content or curating content, cutting corners just wont cut it anymore. #ThatWasAMouthful
Facebook are looking for Pages and influencers to nurture and promote conversation; to facilitate engagement between users. Kind of like a mediating role with a slight air of condescension… Here’s a fab article, again from MeetEdgar discussing The Five Types of “Engagement Bait” That Will Make Facebook Downrank Your Posts and Demote Your Page.
After the current maelstrom of fake news, alternative facts and downright lies kicked off, and a cheeky congressional hearing in 2017, three giants of social media decided/were forced to take note. Facebook was has seen host to a large majority of false rhetoric and (usually) political espionage which exploits those who fail to exercise discernment and skepticism whilst consuming news on social media. Given Facebook’s influence and establishment, they’re viewed as reputable and heavily moderated by many. Some even think they’re a curation platform; its amazing how far a 5 or 6 digit follower count can go in causing users to think ‘official’ and ‘affiliated’. Either way Facebook have a moral responsibility to filter, discourage and eliminate the propagation of inaccuracies.
Machine learning has been employed and now Facebook’s algorithm is sentient and judgemental. Its watchful eye is cast upon pages to continuously identify trusted and accurate news sources. These sources will be awarded with more prominence are are likely to become titans within Facebook. The more prominence they receive and the more trusted they become, the more engagement they’ll generated, and in turn be more frequently displayed in news feeds. They will experience the full, benevolent force of the Facebook algorithm. Pages that don’t match the above criteria will receive the opposite. This is all good news for society, politics and news itself, however it’s unclear how this’ll effect reach/engagement for pages which stray slightly from the criteria. For example satire pages; what will happen to them?
Facebook have a strong focus upon community; we’re designed to notice coincidence and draw patterns from results, and so we categorise those we interact with into friendship groups and sub-cultures. It is how we socialise as humans and Facebook realise this, being what is arguably the most personal social network we have at our fingertips. Thereby, it has been announced that we’re going to start seeing more locally relevant content pushed to our feeds. It is unlikely this will hold much negative effect, if any, for the vast majority of page types. In actuality, the most affected by this change are likely to be some of the bigger global and international media outlets, who will see their content lose prominence to that of news sources which are more local to respective users.
Categorisation of what is and isn’t ‘local news’ isn’t going to be size-dependent, which should instil some reassurance in smaller news outlets; it would be a reasonable hypothesis that this change could make content marketing and blog promotion and awful lot more accessible and effective for some smaller players on Facebook. That being said, it is important to remember that, to Facebook, there is a very definite distinguishment between local news and local business and we’ll be very interested to see how businesses are treated when their content begins to feature local news more prominently in order to take advantage of the change in algorithm.