Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be a place for people to connect and engage. His post on January 11, 2018 decried the plethora of public posts that has overwhelmed the ability of people to connect with people on the platform.
With an underlying thread of concern over people’s quality of life, Zuckerberg wrote:
We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.
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.
Facebook wants you to connect in more meaningful ways because it’s better for you
Zuckerberg wants people to go deeper with each other, and engage on a quality level. So Facebook’s algorithm has changed again. It’s taking a touchy-feely turn. It’s moving from a finding-content algorithm to a relating-to-people algorithm. It does not want you to just sit there scrolling through your feed.
From now on, Facebook will favor person-to-person exchanges over organic and paid posts from businesses and brands. Businesses and brands will need to work harder and differently from now on to attract attention, build awareness and grow influence. They will need to create content that gets people interacting with each other inside Facebook.
Think about this: Facebook competes for your attention along with all the other social and streaming platforms You have a limited amount of time to spend, and Facebook prefers you spend it with them over other social platforms. Therefore, Facebook wants your time with it to be the best thing you do in a day. Or at least that’s the gist as I understand it.
What the new Facebook algorithm looks like
Facebook values person-to-person interaction over person-to-page interaction.
You’ll see more posts from people in your network — those you’re already connected to — and less from business and brand pages.
Pages that bring people together will do well. Pages that simply post information will not.
Facebook values long, thoughtful comments over likes and shares.
FB devalues click-bait. Words used to entice people to engage will matter. Posting an article with a headline daring you to find out what happened when the dog got out, or asking people to like and share your post will cause Facebook to suppress your post.
It will be more difficult to get people to link from Facebook to your website unless you’re running paid ads and promoted posts (also paid).
People who want to see your page content can do so by changing the settings in their News Feed Preferences.
What does the new Facebook algorithm mean to you as a creative freelancer?
For freelancers working to build their brands and grow their businesses, the algorithm change has upsides and downsides. The downsides are obvious:
Organic reach for pages will be minimal, unless it’s a popular page that cultivates community. Your organic page reach will be about 1%. But it’s been at 1% for several years, now. That’s not a new thing.
Minimizing organic reach forces you to invest in paid ads and promoted posts. This is not necessarily wrong on Facebook’s part. We’ve seen many SASS’s and membership sites minimize or remove their free levels in recent months (SumoMe, for one) and no one’s gotten into a tizzy over those. Facebook is, after all, a business, and one must make a profit in order to remain in business. We freelancers understand this.
You will need to increase your marketing budget to invest in paid ads on Facebook. This will lead to re-directing your budget allocation from other areas. If Facebook is a good source of leads and new work for you, you will seriously want to do this. If it’s not, then you’ll need to change your marketing tactics in regard to Facebook.
You’ll need to get creative about how to build a community around your page.
Your website is not regarded by Facebook as your hub. It wants to be your hub.
The upsides I see are quite positive, if you are future-focused and see the new algorithm as an opportunity. The opportunity you have as a creative freelancer is to get creative in how you solve the algorithm problem. If more interaction is required to get noticed, that’s good for your business.
The upsides…are quite positive, if you are future-focused and see the new algorithm as an opportunity.
Time spent on a page will be less important than time spent posting quality content, responding to others’ comments and continuing a conversation.
Facebook values interaction. You’ll need to use your page to start conversations with followers. Ask open-ended questions. Have dialogues and debates. Prioritize higher quality exchanges. An ongoing back and forth, a long response — pursue those things that show you made an effort to engage.
Instead of posting a link to your blog article, post a 2-paragraph excerpt from it and ask what people think. Or expand on it. Or run a Facebook Live and expand on it.
Strategy pivots to consider
As algorithms change, our outreach strategies need to change. On Facebook we should create content that will compel people to react and respond. Content is more important than ever — high quality, meaningful content.
Create fewer but better-quality posts. It’s no longer useful to simply share links and information. It’s about making what you share relevant enough for people to respond.
When you post a link to your blog on your Facebook page, frame it in a way that makes it relevant to your followers and invites them into an exchange on Facebook.
Run paid ads. Facebook will promote paid ads and posts.
Go Live. Instead of posting your latest blog posts on your page, schedule interactive Facebook Live sessions. These can be opinion-oriented, anecdotal, mini-trainings, clips of your process… be creative. What do you want people to know? Say it with Live. Facebook Live will be favored over the posting of remote video content.
Integrate your profile with content you’d otherwise post to your page. Focus on meaningful interactions. This will be easier for those with personal brands and for independent creatives, and more diffitcult for larger businesses that don’t already have strong page engagement.
Build community around your page. Begin conversations, run polls and surveys. Respond quickly to anyone who comments (unless they’re a troll). Ask people what they think.
Start a group. Groups are communities with a common focus. Deeper discussion happens in my groups than on my feed, and I’ll bet that’s true for pretty much everyone.
Focus on other social platforms if you don’t already have an ample, engaged audience for your FB page. This is always an option. I recommend a focus on 3 social platforms and making one of those your primary vehicle. It may be that Facebook is less effective for you than Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. Focus where you’ll get your best return.
One thing I’ve been doing more of recently is being more generous with my own comments on others’ pages and profiles. It’s not taking me more time on Facebook to do this. But I’m more purposeful with the time I spend there — scrolling less and engaging more.
In conclusion,if you’re on Facebook and want to make it work, and Facebook wants you to connect and build community, then that’s what you need to do. But don’t panic or get into a tizzy over the new algorithm. Shift gears, maybe invest some dollars on ad spends, do some live streams, and make the algorithm changes work for you.