If you were on Twitter last night, two news stories likely took over your feed — (1) terribly insensitive (and racist remarks) made by some dude with a whole lotta power, and (2) collective panic from publishers and brands over an announcement by Facebook that changes to the algorithm are afoot.
This blog post will focus on the latter.
Facebook making changes to its algorithm is nothing new, but this announcement has many marketers up in arms in part because of how reliant many organizations have become on the platform for disseminating their content to interested audiences. Media companies and publishers have also become reliant on Facebook, especially when it comes to referral traffic to their articles — which for some, could have a significant impact on their ability to generate revenue.
In our industry, folks have been writing about the danger of brands, media companies, nonprofits and businesses becoming so reliant on Facebook for years. Put simply, Facebook has become the publisher — and it has had control over what pieces of content users see for many years now. But we’ve all played by Facebook’s rules because of its enormous user base — with more than 2 billion users, it is likely that a majority of your customers, readers, donors spend some time on the platform every month, if not every day.
The last time a panic like this set in for marketers related to the diminishing reach of Facebook content created by brands was back in 2013 when organic reach for company pages dropped from 12 percent to six percent in a matter of months.
The true impact of this algorithm change will begin to be realized over the next few months, but there are a few things you can do to begin to prepare:
Know your baselines.
Facebook allows you to access historical data related to your page’s content. Take the time now to understand how your content performed before the change. Assess things like the average reach of your posts, engagement rate and types of content that perform well (by generating conversation and engagement). If you have access Google Analytics, know how much referral traffic Facebook is sending to your website on a monthly basis. Having some if not all of these numbers on hand will help you to understand how the impending algorithm change is impacting your brand, if at all.
Carve out a budget for social advertising.
Start by reading this primer on social advertising. If you haven’t set aside money in your 2018 marketing budget to amplify your content on Facebook, it might be the right time to consider this tactic. While it will be painful to spend money on something that has, for the most part, been perceived as free, it will hurt less than the dip in reach on the platform and drop in referral traffic to your website.
Find other platforms to reach your audience.
Facebook isn’t the only platform out there, it’s just the largest one. If your audience also spends a significant amount of time on Twitter or Instagram (which has had its own algorithm challenges since being bought by Facebook) — it might be time to build out a strategy that incorporates a platform that is new to your organization. And if you’re already creating and sharing content on all of the platforms where your audience lives, as you keep tabs on how this algorithm change impacts your business it might be time to look at refreshing your strategy.
We’ll be paying attention to how these changes impact our own content, as well as the content we’re helping many of our clients produce and share on Facebook. Here’s to hoping the hype around this announcement is just that — hype.