Usually, when Facebook makes a change to its interface or News Feed algorithm, the company just up and does it. One day you'll log into Facebook and everything suddenly looks different, and you're scrambling to figure out what the heck is going on and how the new feature may affect your marketing.
Well I have some great news for you: Say goodbye to scrambling to figure out mysterious new Facebook changes. Yesterday, Facebook decided to get more transparent by launching a new blog for businesses, and its first post detailed some new algorithm changes to the News Feed. I won't go into too many specifics about the new changes (feel free to catch up by reading our blog post yesterday), but they all align with Facebook's ultimate goal: "to give users a 'customized newspaper' highlighting the stories it assumes users will find most interesting."
And apparently, the new algorithm is working. According to CNET, "In testing, commenting, liking, and sharing on friends' posts went up 5%. For business pages and users with followers, those engagement marks went up 8%. The test group was also reading 57-70% more stories, according to Backstrom."
So this News Feed algorithm works -- and it will affect the success of your Company Page posts. So what do you need to know about it as a marketer? Here's what marketers should take away from the recent changes; we also updated our free Facebook News Feed Crash Course to reflect the new changes, so check it out if you want to master the manipulation of Facebook's News Feed.
5 Marketing Takeaways From the Facebook News Feed Update
1) If you're using Facebook for lead generation, you need to make sure that every post counts.
With the new Story Bumping feature (which resurfaces older posts that you may have "missed" to the top of the News Feed), you have even more opportunities for your content to be resurfaced to your Fans -- that is, if it's good.
We're guessing that visual content will be even more important than it already was, as photos get 53% more likes than the average post -- so figure out how you can make the most of your images and cover photo updates to benefit your Facebook lead generation. If you're trying to reach your Fans in order to generate leads, really think about what content would be most engaging; you might end up staying in the News Feed for longer than you used to. (And if you need a few ideas to jump-start your lead generation creativity, check out this blog post.)
2) But if your Facebook posts flop quickly, you'll have more chances to get it right.
On the flip side of Story Bumping, if your content isn't performing as well, it will be pushed down much more quickly. While at first glance this means that your content must perform well -- and perform well fast -- to remain in the News Feed, it actually is a positive thing. According to EdgeRank Checker, Story Bumping will decrease the effect of Time Decay -- which means if you're swinging and missing with Facebook content, you'll have more opportunities to test content to engage with your audience.
3) At the same time, you could also get knocked for posting a flurry of updates ... so find a delicate balance for your Facebook posting schedule.
That being said, once Facebook gets the Chronological by Last Actor feature right, flurries of updates will get grouped together in the News Feed ... which means your individual post engagement (and potential for lead generation) could decrease. With this new change, you should really monitor your posting frequency to make sure you're not posting too much. Plan out spaces between your social media updates accordingly and then test to see if you can adjust the timing between posts to increase engagement and conversions.
The good news about the overall algorithm update is that it won't help people who send out spam update after spam update, as they'll get removed again and again from the News Feed.
4) Throw out impression-based metrics: Engagement is king.
The whole Last Actor part of the algorithm is a huge indication of the core metric Facebook values: engagement. So while "post reach" is an interesting metric you may want to keep an eye on, Facebook seems to care more about people actually interacting with your Facebook content. This is a huge win for small businesses or companies who have small Facebook Company Page followings -- focus on engaging people with your posts, and you should appear in their News Feeds more often.
5) Supplement your efforts with Facebook advertising to potentially increase engagement.
If you're trying to ramp up your engagement metric but your current fans' engagement isn't enough, you might want to consider testing Facebook Ads. They could help you reach a new audience that would love to engage with you -- again, taking advantage of the Last Actor metric. Also, keep in mind that the Story Bumping feature does not affect ads on the News Feed -- ads are determined by a different algorithm. If you need help getting started with Facebook ads, check out this free ebook.
The moral of the story all comes down to one thing: with all of these changes, you need to test what works on your Company Page with your Fans. What works for one marketer in one business could completely fail in another. So get testing -- with the right data, you'll start increasing your Facebook engagement and leads in no time!
Image credit: Robert S. Donovan
Facebook's News Feed algorithm changes a lot -- so make sure you're up-to-date with the latest changes by checking out our newly updated Crash Course on the Facebook News Feed. To download the free guide, click here, and you'll be a News Feed pro in no time.