Yesterday, Facebook updated their News Feed (again) to focus on promoting more "high quality" content.
And what is "high quality" content, according to Facebook? In an internal survey, Facebook found that "on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team, or shared interests, to the latest meme."
Facebook's solution? Show more of those "high quality" articles and less memes that are "hosted somewhere other than Facebook." Also, change up the design of articles from "high quality" media sites to give users more recommended content to discover, which'll look like this:
Give the people what they want, right?
Not quite. There's more to this update than meets the eye.
What Facebook Didn't Tell You
I'm a little skeptical of this whole algorithm update. (Did my excessive use of quotation marks give it away?)
The first of my gripes: Who is to say that memes aren't as "quality" as news stories? Though Facebook's survey says that people prefer news stories to memes, I have a hard time believing that a random story on CNN delivers more value (which could be both education or entertainment) to Facebook users than a roundup of Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball" memes. Sure, one's more educational, but is it really more quality?
And then, if memes aren't quality, what the heck do you call this ad of shirtless men in my News Feed?
Though many people wouldn't object to this ad in their News Feed, removing content like memes to make way for this ad seems pretty hypocritical.
Okay then, so let's assume that news = good and memes = bad. Enter my third gripe: What is Facebook doing about getting rid of memes? Cutting down on memes from external sites -- not memes in general. So they're not really solving the "meme problem" -- they're just ramping up traffic from news sites. You know, those news sites who will probably integrate Facebook into their site infrastructure and reporting.
So that's a lot of ranting -- I know -- but it's an important discussion to have because Facebook surely won't stop with the meme crackdown in the name of "high quality" content. Remember, it's their platform and we're just hanging out on it. Facebook can switch up the algorithm to work however they like, and it's up to marketers to respond to it.
The Algorithm's Changed ... So What Do You Do About It?
Lucky for you, there's just one thing you need to do to keep yourself relatively safe from future Facebook News Feed updates: Ramp up quality content that you own. We're talking content your leads and customers love, in the format of blog posts, ebooks, guides, free downloads, etc. Higher quality content means a few things for you:
1) When it's shared on Facebook, you have a better chance of being found in the News Feed.
3) You'll then get more traffic and leads organically.
4) Then, if Facebook changes its algorithm again, you won't be so dependent on the social network to hit your marketing goals each month.
Basically, while aiming for quality content that you own is a short term play to make the most of Facebook's rankings, you're also setting yourself up for long-term success -- not to mention making your visitors, leads, and customers really happy.