What Brands Need to Know about Facebook’s News Feed Changes

Facebook is changing what you will see in your News Feed – but probably not in the way you expect.

Instead of expanding its content offerings or advertising opportunities, Facebook is refocusing the News Feed to prioritize personal connections over content from publishers and marketers.

In a January 12 post, Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.

But recently we’ve 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.

Zuckerberg goes on to explain that video and other public content have grown in popularity over time, often taking up more space than posts from friends and family. He adds that social media can have a positive influence on our well-being when it fosters relationships; and while passively consuming content – like watching videos or reading articles – might be informative or entertaining, it doesn’t necessarily enrich our health or happiness. Moving forward, Facebook will work on facilitating social connections through its platform.

Zuckerberg’s statement was vague about what the immediate changes will be. He wrote:

We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

For example, there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.

We don’t know any specifics yet, and marketers are understandably concerned by this change in direction. But before we all get too worked up, let’s focus on what we do know, and how you can use this information.

1. Don’t freak out; brands aren’t banned.

Yes, this sounds like a major shift in the way Facebook displays content in the News Feed. But Facebook marketing isn’t dead, and brands aren’t being forced out of the platform. Marketers will undoubtedly have to adjust strategies to meet Facebook’s changing standards – but this has been true many times over the years.

Track your organic reach and paid advertising metrics carefully, and be ready to pivot and test new approaches when necessary.

2. Meaningful interactions are key.

Facebook wants people to use its platform to bolster relationships and connect with others in a real way. Does your brand do this already? How can you make it a more central focus?

Zuckerberg mentioned the Facebook communities that form strong bonds around sports teams or TV series. Users are active participants in these groups and pages because they have passionate opinions, and they want to find a tribe of likeminded people. How can your brand create a better sense of community through Facebook? How can you spark debate, or encourage fans to share their thoughts and experiences?

3. Live video is a priority.

As Zuckerberg’s statement shows, Facebook clearly wants to encourage people to post live videos. And because Facebook Live contributes to building connections and engaging directly with followers, it’s a good bet that brands who use it will get more visibility in the News Feed than those who post more “passive content.” Have you experimented with live video yet? How can you incorporate regular live broadcasts into your Facebook marketing strategy?

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