OK, the sky isn’t really falling. But there are some major changes taking place over the course of this year at the biggest social platform on the planet.
Shades of things to come
First, Facebook vowed to crack down on what they call ‘engagement bait‘ as part of the process of improving the news feed experience for their users (they announced they were turning up the heat on things like clickbait and links to low-quality websites in the Spring of 2017). This latest change was actually announced mid-December 2017, but I’m sure implementation of it has crossed over into 2018.
Engagement baiting is, in short, any post that compels users to engage rather than allowing engagement to happen naturally. Some of the tactics being targeted have always seemed a bit spammy to me anyhow (like, “Tag a friend who loves cats.” Guess what? If it’s an awesome video/article/meme about cats that I suspect my friend who loves cats would enjoy, I don’t need you to tell me to tag them, okay? LOL). Others are against Facebook’s terms as far as I know (one specific example they give in the article announcing the change is, “Share with 50 friends for a chance to win a new convertible.”) But now they’re targeting certain things that I have seen social media experts even more expert-y than me suggest/recommend to help boost engagement on your Page, e.g., “Comment YES if you like [fill-in-the-blank-with-some-awesome-thing].” So some things that may seem innocuous could get your post pushed down in the news feed.
Then they turned Pages on their ears
Next, Facebook went and fiddled with the news feed algorithm AGAIN, citing their 2018 goal of ensuring that time spent on Facebook is ‘time well spent‘. Feedback from Facebook users (we’re talking actual people, not businesses and brands) was that public content (e.g., content from Pages) was beginning to crowd out the personal stuff that leads to people connecting more with each other. So Facebook took action to see how they could better focus on ‘Bringing People Closer Together’.
Of course, Page owners went a little crazy worrying about what this would mean for their Facebook reach, especially those who have no website and therefore rely on Facebook for their overall online presence (you can get details about why this is a bad idea from my free report, If You Build It They Will Come and Other Social Media Myths That Could Be Damaging Your Online Presence). Read the full, official statement about the news feed changes here.
So what does this all mean for you?
Bottom line, Pages that continue to post relevant and meaningful content will not see as significant a decrease in reach as Pages that employ engagement bait techniques. (Learn more about what Facebook considers ‘engagement bait’ and get pointers on how to avoid it here. ) Pages that publish content that promotes *conversations* will be less impacted by the latest changes to the news feed.
Don’t get me wrong – I anticipate ALL Pages will experience a decrease in their reach and, in turn, their engagement. But Pages that share quality content that smacks of authenticity and naturally sparks conversation among their fans won’t feel the pinch quite as much. Check out some practical ways you can continue to achieve the best possible reach on Facebook here.
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