Facebook feed update: what happened and what to do? (Featuring 8 top FB experts)

Recent Facebook feed update drove marketers crazy. ‘Is this the end?’ – you may ask. We’ve summarized everything said by Mark Zuckerberg, Jon Loomer, Amanda Bond, Mari Smith, Michael Stelzner and other FB gurus. Read the article below to find the complete explanation on the update.

If you already know what happened, scroll directly to ‘What to do’ section with advices from best FB marketers.

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I see marketers’ panic about the FB feed update. But what actually happened?

Mark Zuckerberg announced a big update to the Facebook Feed in his post. Then Adam Mosseri, VP of a Facebook feed, published an explainer video on what’s gonna change.

Here are the 5 things Mark and Adam told about:

  1. There are 2 ways to use FB:

    • Active – when you communicate with people that mean to you.
    • Passive – when you just scroll through the feed.

    Active use makes you feel happy. Passive causes depression and anxiety, as scientists claim FB bets on making users happy. So the Feed now will encourage users to communicate much more with each other.

  2. From now on, the feed will always show posts from close friends first. Then – from other people. Then – from brands and publishers. This way Fb encourages people-to-people interactions.

  3. Fb can dedice to show brand content higher in a Feed only if it’s likely to get active engagement. Engagement now means long, thoughtful comments, discussions, and also shares.
  4. Videos, which make people passively scroll through the feed, are evil. Non-engaging posts are evil. They will be thrown away from the feed. Live videos are good. Groups are good too. Everything that drives you to get into communication is actually good.
  5. Less active use of the Feed means less time spent on the website, and Facebook is ready to sacrifice it. Satisfaction and good experience are the main priorities.

So Zuck decided to lose money voluntarily to make the world a better place? What is the real reason for this update?

Well, he’s philanthropist. But sure, he is not going to destroy Facebook.

Reason #1. Facebook addiction makes people suffer, and tendency to leave FB is gaining momentum. Psychologists think that passive FB use undermines well-being, which makes doctors recommend to leave FB to their patients. Bloggers are leaving FB and writing reports on how happy they are. Fb is changing to make users stay before it’s too late.

No users – no ads – no money – no Facebook. That’s why the strategy is users first.

Reason #2. Less organic content – more guys would like to pay FB money for the paid ads. More profits.

But anyway, Mark and shareholders lost $3.3 billion in the first single day after the announcement. So it’s not about the short-term money.

Facebook already changed its feed a lot of times. Why this time it is different?

It is not different. It is more like the final battle.

Fb started its war against organic reach long ago. It is no more than 5-7% of your page followers who see posts organically right now. The update can finally kill an organic brands reach, reducing it to something around 0.

What exactly is going to change?

The algorithm, which decides what to show user in the Feed. Previously every engagement – click, video view, like – were signals that the content is worth organic reach. This is how viral effect worked.

But low quality click-bait articles and videos hacked the algo. People viewed them occasionally without being really engaged, still system got false signals, that the content performs well.

So it is changed now. The stuff from your friends will get higher anyway. Because friends usually don’t manipulate the feed . And for the brand content main criterias are now comments and discussions. Posts that don’t look like engaging will get no organic reach at all.

How Fb will define if content is good or not, without even showing it to users?

Machine learning, baby. Fb has so much data, it can predict apocalypsis, let alone how much comments your post will get.

It can analyze hundreds of factors about your post to rank it properly. It also makes tests showing the post for a small group of people and looking for the reaction. And then making the final decision.

So, SMM will become similar to SEO with keywords and tests stuff, and there will be the algorithm we need to surpass?

It already works this way. Algorithm has been deciding what to show you in the feed for years. Some marketers thought they are good enough to fool it. The update is fixing algo, so it is more difficult to manipulate it now.

Does it influence ads?

Announcement says nothing about ads. Does it mean that ads won’t be affected? No. When marketers are limited in organic reach, they will go for paid. Ad inventory stays the same (some say it might be even reduced), but the demand grows. Prices will probably increase. And if your strategy was to slightly boost content to then get viral reach, it might not work anymore – as the viral reach is narrowed by the algorithm.

Ok. But should I be worried?

Depends on your business model and place of Facebook in it:

  1. You are a publisher with a huge Fb audience
    I bet, you’re already worried. But wait for Fb’s next steps. It will find a compromise, not to destroy qualified publishers, cause they are crucial to the ecosystem.
  2. Your main traffic source is Facebook organic
    Seriously, in 2017? Buy yourself a bottle of whiskey and relax. It might be the end of your business.
  3. Your doing Facebook ads, having a low-margin business, e.g. dropshipping
    Tough times for you. If CPC increases high enough, your ad spendings might surpass the revenue. It is time to rethink your business model.
  4. You have an active FB community.
    It’s ok. Don’t worry
  5. You’re a sustainable company and your marketing mix is diverse. Fb is just one of the channels.
    It’s ok too. The worst thing that can happen to you is a slight increase in CPA for leads from FB. But it won’t be a critical loss for you.

What can I do now to get prepared?

There a lot of things to do now in different fields. Big external changes are the good times to change your business too. I’ve collected insights and recommendations from top FB experts to give you the overview of what marketing community recommends to do. Some of the guys have published this pices of advice in their blogs, some gave me special comments on this.

Here is the top 13 things to do with your marketing while new algo is being rolled out:

Content strategy and community

  1. Ask your followers to put you in the ‘See first’ list
    Amanda Bond
    Digital media strategist

    Soon everyone will be begging for this. But yet it’s still ok to ask your fans, explaining them the reason for that and giving the instructions how to do that.

  2. Create your own livestream strategy
    Amanda Bond
    Digital media strategist

    Zuckerberg mentioned in his post, that live videos are a good type of content and they engage people really well. Amanda advices to make use of this format, find out the creative way to use it regularly to communicate with your audience.

  3. Don’t ever use an engagement bait
    Jon Loomer
    Fb ads expert

    “This is a confusing concept for some marketers. Facebook wants engagement, but you can’t bait users into it. You can actually get engagement without engagement bait.

    This is consistent with Facebook’s emphasis on authenticity. Your goal is to not only get lots of comments, likes, and shares, but for that engagement to be meaningful”.

  4. Think of messenger as of alternative platform to reach your audience.
    Jon Loomer
    Fb ads expert

    “Late last year, I started experimenting with Messenger bots. I’ve long resisted them, and I wouldn’t say I’ve fully embraced them. But I do see potential there, and my bot is still running.

    Whether it’s bots or Messenger via support staff only, you should not ignore this method of communication. There are organic broadcast options within third party Messenger tools. You can advertise directly into users’ Messenger as well.

    Last year, Facebook’s focus was on furthering video — live video, in particular. Messenger appears to be Facebook’s next frontier. It’s already a huge success, but this is a big area of potential growth for Facebook and marketers.

    Facebook wants conversation. Messenger provides it”.

  5. Use groups to build a community and engage your customers.
    Mari Smith
    Fb ads expert

    Facebook is really favouring groups feature. This year they are even holding special groups summit in London. Mark Zuckerberg mentioned groups in his post as good way of communication, as they engage users into discussions, which are helplful. You should think of developing your own groups strategy, if you don’t have one yet.

    If you’re a local business – don’t forget about events. Events are featured in special sections of Facebook besides the news Feed. They can bring you high local awareness expecially on a new Facebook’s Local app, where events.

  6. Create edu-teinment content
    Michael Stelzner
    Social Media Examiner

    “Think the History or Discovery channel. Think episodic content. People have a big, insatiable appetite for this type of content, and it could drive interaction” – Michael Said in the interview to the BOSS Magazine. Such content engages people and has a higher chance to het into the feed.

  7. Make sure you’re part of the discussion.
    Wilco de Kreij
    Online Business Expert

    “Let people talk about YOU and your brand on their personal profiles” – Wilco advices. This requires creative and engaging content strategy, community building and PR expertises.

  8. Don’t think of content techniques, think of its value instead
    Depesh Mandalia
    Fb ads expert

    If you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing your ads or organic updates with friends in your own newsfeed, it’s probably not good enough for your Page, Group or ads as a business. There will always be loopholes and hacks to gain engagement but, as an example, the crackdown Facebook is taking demotion for engagement baiting completely seriously.

    There aren’t many magic formulas to Facebook beyond targeting the right audience and creating content relevant for them. It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of bidding and optimisation but at the core of what Facebook are trying to deliver, it pivots around user satisfaction. Creating those meaningful connections for users on the platform should be a big consideration in your creative execution.

  9. Ads and optimization

  10. If you’re not doing FB Ads – it is time to start.
    Michael Stelzner
    Social Media Examiner

    “News Feed equals Main Street and businesses must learn how to advertise there” – Michael Stelzner says. It looks like advertising is getting one of the most common ways to be seen in the Feed.

  11. Use remarketing sequences to adress right people with a right message
    Dennis Yu

    The critical aspect of doing FB right is to be relevant to your audience. Which means you need to break down, according to the stage of a funnel a person is on at the momemt. Trigger-based remarketing let’s you craft proper messages to different groups, based on their interests and expectations. That’s the key for engagement, which is so crucial now.

  12. Don’t think of Facebook as of a direct sales channel
    Depesh Mandalia
    Fb ads expert

    “Facebook have a wide range of tools available to make customer journey work, including a good offering of campaign objectives (from brand awareness to lead generation through to engagement and conversion), deep analytics tools with their newly updated Facebook Analytics tool, new Events manager to improve tracking and a whole range of targeting and creative options.

    Want to find new audiences? Run a video ad to a fairly broad audience and retarget those that view a certain percentage. Want to improve email marketing response rates? Load your list into Facebook and ensure they see your message when you need them to”.

  13. Business strategy

  14. Think of how you can increase the LTV of your customers.
    Maxwell Finn
    Social Media Expert

    Low-margin products with a low life-time value will be more and more difficult to sell on Facebook. Fb is more about building relationship and getting a long-term result. So you need to come up with idea how to monetize your audience better – cost per acquisition might increase and each of your customers need to bring enough money to cover it and stay profitable.

    Decide on the product you can upsell, there is always an option to do that, no matter which business you’re in.

  15. Rethink your business strategy, not to rely on just one channel
    Maxwell Finn
    Social Media Expert

    If the feed update is a serious threat for you, then it’s something wrong with your business. In a cross-channel world you need to be diverse, not relying 100% on any tool or traffic source.

    Try to build presence on Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, use different paid acquisition channels. This will help your company keep growing, regardless of platform updates.

  16. And what do you think, Captain?

  17. Analyze everything you can measure.
    Captain Growth
    Marketing AI

    I would say what I usually say – analytics will save the world. Whatever changes, the only way to stay on top is to test, analyze results and contiuosly transform, choosing the best working things. This approach works in any environment, even in the new Facebook feed, which may be agressive to brand content.

    The rules have changed. But they are the same for every publisher, brand, e-commerce and agency now. The one who is more creative in testing and more deep in analytics will win and survive. Others? I’m sure if you’re here, you’re not one of them.

You say analytics is important. But what exactly does it mean? Which reports do I need? Which metrics to track?

There are 2 things to focus on:

  1. Trying to save part of organic you used to have (if that’s an issue for you). Here you can map your actual reach to different factors, such as post format, topic, copy, amount spent on promo, audience, time of posting and etc. Look for correlations – which factors bring better results? Then A/B test and find working solutions for your case.
  2. Ads optimization in the highly competitive Facebook environment. It is the question of careful and complete ad analytics. You need to research all level of your performance, starting from LTV and ROAS to CPM and frequency.

Because with a higher competition the price of mistake is higher. And micro optimization rules. Breakdown your metrics by all possible dimensions and look for audience and creative insights. Experiment with biddings, optimisation goals and conversion events to find the best-performers.

And remember, that the best way to do analytics is to delegate it to Captain Growth. Facebook can change everything tomorrow, and the AI is the first to keep pace with it.

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