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Endgame? What the experts say Facebook's Newsfeed changes really mean for publishers

Posted 6 months ago by Angus

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll doubtless be aware Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its newsfeed, aimed at putting friends and family center stage, and shifting news and brand content to the sidelines. Noble as Mark Zuckerberg’s intentions may be, we recognise they raise potential headaches for publishers and bloggers using Facebook as a primary distribution channel for their content. So we’ve pulled together several expert perspectives, so whether you’re a writer, editor or blogger, you can see what the newsfeed changes mean for you and some recommendations for how to respond in light of them.

1. Engagement is everything, but clickbait won’t cut it anymore

A key theme is that engagement will be everything in the new newsfeed. Your content needs to command comments, discussion, likes and shares to succeed in reaching people. That doesn’t mean creating clickbait though, and as Hubspot points out, Facebook actively penalizes sites using engagement baiting language like “tag a friend”, so creating content purely to generate clicks may actually have the opposite effect. The overall aim of the changes is provoking meaningful conversations, not ending content distribution altogether, so the onus is on publishers and bloggers to look at their content, strive to make it as relevant as possible for the audience and ensure it is always insightful.

2) You can try “show this content first”, but don’t count on it

Facebook has given a concession of sorts to publishers, giving users the option to see certain pages’ content at the top of their newsfeed if they opt-in. But that means convincing users to opt-in to receive the content ahead of updates from friends and family, which is fine in theory, but in practice the number of people passing over Dear Mum and Dad for the Daily Planet is likely to be small.So, while in theory it resolves the problem of reaching people at scale, it’s unlikely to be a practical long-term solution.

3) Playtime’s over, it’s paytime now

Moving forward, if you want to get your content in front of the right people at the right time, it’s likely you’ll have to pay to play. Tots100 doesn’t think you’ll have to pay a prohibitive amount though: just enough to get your content in front of a few highly engaged users and from there it should spread to a wider audience. This has been a growing trend, but will become a bigger priority for publishers as Facebook deprioritizes organic reach for publishers even further.

4) Strength in numbers

They say birds of a feather flock together and Facebook’s equivalent is users clubbing together in interest Groups. Publishers that can invest the time to develop these communities stand to reap the dividends, with a larger potential pool of engaged users than “show first” will deliver, and a ready made space to share their most impactful content. It needs to be the “most impactful too”: the same engagement bait rules that cover content posted on publisher’s own pages apply to Facebook groups too, which means groups can’t just be a conduit to spam users with content. That means being more selective about what content you share in groups. Groups also have the added advantage over the newsfeed of not being subject to frequent changes to an algorithm.

5. Less is more

Coco Chanel said you should always take one thing off before you head out the door and from these latest changes, it seems publishers need to take a whole lot of things off the newsfeed. That’s because under the new scheme, content which doesn’t receive any engagement on your feed, can drag down your overall reach and viewability. What that means day-to-day is that instead of sharing multiple pieces of content with mixed engagement, you should look to curate the content you share, only releasing pieces that look to have maximum impact.

6. Reach beyond social channels

Organic reach is in finite supply across all social platforms, so it’s critical you have your SEO on lockdown and are ranking preferentially across your site’s relevant keywords. This should help spread your distribution away from the social platforms and help safeguard the organic traffic that is your audience lifeblood. Outside of SEO, email is another great channel to embrace and hold close, with the ability to create highly engaged communities that are within your own control.

7. Live in the moment!

At the center of Facebook’s new engagement-above-all-else-approach sits Facebook Live, which purportedly commands around 6x more engagement than a typical video and consistently outranks other content for generation of the “meaningful conversations” the newsfeed change seeks to tap into. Understanding how to involve Facebook Live in your editorial content could be a game-changer for your reach on Facebook and an excellent way to adapt to the new changes introduced.

We’re confident that while the Facebook Newsfeed changes look daunting, there are ways to adapt to them and evolve approaches so publishers can continue to benefit too. If you want more perspectives on Facebook’s changes, you can check out the articles we used to create this blog below:

Wordstream
Hootsuite
The Blogging Blog
Tots100
Hubspot

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