Last week, Facebook announced that it would be demoting content from brands, businesses and media to make these posts less prominent in the newsfeed. Citing feedback from users that brand content was crowding out personal connections, Mark Zuckerberg hopes the change will move Facebook from helping users find relevant content to helping them have “more meaningful social interactions.”
Naturally, this change has brands, businesses and publishers concerned about the ability to reach and engage their audiences through a key online channel. To better understand what this change means for brands, and how they should approach Facebook moving forward, we asked of our partners across the globe to weigh in.
The alarmist view set forth by many industry publications is not shared by our partners. They’ve seen this change coming for a long time, and are continuing to make the same recommendations that they have for years:
- Create great content that is truly interesting and valuable to your target audience
- Build a community around your brand to leverage the personal recommendations of friends and family
- Diversify across channels so that you’re reaching your audience where they are and mitigating risk
- Focus on the content that Facebook loves–videos
Keep in mind, however, that this change doesn’t impact ads. Facebook has become a pay-to-play medium, and that isn’t changing. What may change are the costs of ads and how much budget you need to maintain engagement.
For more insights on how Facebook’s newsfeed changes will impact brands, check out what some of our partners had to say:
Jean-Paul Treguer, CEO, TVLowCost
“This decision from Facebook demonstrates clearly that brands must not put ‘all their eggs on one basket’ in terms of social media advertising in order to be less impacted when this or that social media changes its policy. Brands must have a 360° advertising approach both in online and off-line advertising. They must free themselves from decisions taken by the media owners. To do so they must generate a lot of communication elements that will surround the consumers wherever they consume medias. More important, they must create and produce plenty of videos, as this is the most desired way for consumers to discover more about a brand and its products and services prior to buy it.”
Lee Ching Chew, Managing Director, Mandate Communications
“On the surface, this does not look like a positive development. If Facebook were to cut back on sponsored posts, it would receive less revenue and marketers may end up with limited access to an otherwise popular medium. As most of the sponsored posts are informative in nature, any curb on such posts may deprive users of a convenient source of information. But one wonders if there is more to this move. Could Facebook be looking at tweaking or changing its revenue model riding on the momentum of restoring user experience?
Ever since it started to accept ads and sponsored posts, Facebook’s revenue has risen to meteoric heights. It has a golden goose that makes it such an attractive investment platform. Is it likely that they will harm the golden goose just because it has now gotten “feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”? Even if that was so, one wonders why it took Facebook so long to realise this. If it holds true to its mission to promote and facilitate personal connection, wouldn’t Facebook have put in place a policy that limits the volume and monitors sponsored posts content so that they do not diminish users experience?
As members of the marketing community, perhaps we should also ask ourselves if we have over-used this platform until users find sponsored posts intrusive and annoying. It’s counterintuitive to flood a medium to the extent that the content turns off the audience. Have we “spammed” a medium with posts that have become an irritation?”
Norty Cohen, CEO, Moosylvania
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
“The nuances are the key. They are going to promote conversation among users and give it a higher ranking in their algorithm – this is exactly in line with our new research and our next book, Join the Brand.
As we’ve stated, users are 2.5x more likely to adopt a brand based on friends and family conversations than Facebook, TV and YouTube advertising combined.
The only way to get there is to build brand communities.”
Michael Hirst, Chairman, Prism Worldwide Partners
“The snag, to use traditional language, is exposures vs. engagement.
Facebook is having a problem. The advertising placed on it is receiving billions of exposures, but it is not engaging people to take action. As many as 2 million people a day may be exposed to a billboard in Times Square, does that not mean that they are receiving and recording the message.
Same with Facebook.
Facebook sees a growing challenge with advertisers, who see these voluminous numbers of exposures, but no engagement to actually move or sell their brands.
Facebook is re-engineering to try and modify the model so that consumers are actually engaged, and in that way, the company might actually be able to charge advertisers more in the future.
If Facebook doesn’t do this, they are going to lose advertisers and lose revenue in the long run.”
Claire Jamison, Social Media Manager, Ardmore Advertising
Belfast, United Kingdom
“The good news is that paid ads remain largely unaffected by this specific shift, however ultimately, it means that businesses will have to pay more and create better content if they want to retain the levels of visibility they currently have.”
Check out Ardmore’s blog for more details.
Antonio Carranza, Digital Strategy Director, BIT Digital
San Jose, Costa Rica
“Facebook has always been about personal connections and most of brands and business are outsiders that usually don’t know how to behave.
This new change is an opportunity to do something amazing in order to improve our strategies to fit in a digital-social media context by focusing on bringing people closer to our brands.
Although, in my opinion Facebook should allow people to personalized their own News Feed and decide for themselves what kind of information it’s right for them.”
John Harris, President & CEO, Worldwide Partners
Denver, CO, USA
“Paid branded placements will remain unaffected by the algorithm change, as–despite the ‘community first’ claim–Facebook has to deliver revenue. The major shift for brands is a revaluation of their organic strategy, resisting the urge to post at will, and recommitting to the creation of content that builds community and adds utility to the lives of Facebook users.
Facebook continues to place significant emphasis on live video via Stories and Facebook Live, and brands continue to under-leverage these tools for organic distribution. If you believe CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s quote that the algorithm is being tweaked to ‘prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people,’ then brands must also re-evaluate the opportunity that exists with building out a specific strategy for Groups.
As Facebook looks to capture more of advertisers’ television spend, expect the company to become more aggressive with its Watch digital television platform (initially launched in the US before expanding internationally), prioritizing News Feed content from original shows and live broadcasts.”
How else do you think this change will impact brands? Share you thoughts on our Facebook page.