Facebook’s new algorithm – what does it mean for your business? (social buzz column) | nnbusinessview.com

Facebook’s new algorithm – what does it mean for your business? (social buzz column)

Brook Bentley Social Media and Content Manager for SNMG

Social media presence has become a vital piece of effective marketing and brand management over the last decade. It takes continued effort for brands to stay relevant in the digital and social media world.

Just as any brand listens to its audience and adjusts strategy to stay relevant, the same holds true for Facebook. As the growth of digital continues, there is change that comes with it.

Part of this means algorithm changes. Simply put, an algorithm is a behind-the-scenes system that determines what content a user sees in his or her newsfeed, based on how likely he or she would be to engage with that content in some way. So, as the amount of data continues to grow, social platforms are adjusting how they process and present content for users to consume with the goal of providing a better user experience.

Facebook strives to increase its on-site and in-app engagement (as opposed to sending more traffic to your website organically), and that's why these more recent tweaks may be important for businesses to understand moving forward.

What's changed?

Over the last year or so, Facebook has been battling fake news as well as Q4 reports that time on-site and in-app were actually slowing down. Speculation pointed to some algorithm shifts, as well as the influx of content causing the slowdown to occur. It also suggested that a lot of content was actually taking users off their platforms, which is not in the best interest of social networks.

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The answer, for Facebook, was to tweak its algorithm. Now, a user's newsfeed will show more posts from friends that have comments and engagement. By prioritizing what friends and family share, users are more likely to spend more time on-site and in-app. Also, this content is thought to be more meaningful for users.

While the road ahead is unclear, the announcement from Facebook implies that as a business page, posting and linking to off-site content may not be what Facebook's algorithm deems valuable for users. This could lead to a continued decrease in reach and engagement for business pages.

So, what does your business need to do?

Be patient and don't turn your best practices upside down just yet.

There is a certain amount of secrecy around algorithms and tweaks so that the platforms can continue adjusting them as needed. This means that Facebook may make announcements about upcoming changes, but as they roll out, algorithms may shift again. As a result, the impact is not as devastating as it was thought to be.

There are a lot of best practices that your brand may employ that should continue.

For example, don't abandon what makes your brand authentic. Creating conversation rather than talking to your audience goes a long way.

Facebook continues to favor video, so be sure to use that to your brand's advantage as well. Facebook is rated as the most impactful social channel for video — 8.4 times higher than any other social channel, according to Animoto.

Lastly, don't forget to be a human. Social media was designed to be social, and that goes for brands, too. Interact with your audience. Simply commenting back can go a long way.

What is the right mix?

Since this latest set of tweaks was announced, the biggest question appears to be: What is the best mix of on-site and off-site content to share on social media?

This is a tough question to answer.

Brands want to drive traffic and potential leads to their website, while there also are a lot of built-in tools offered within social networks to optimize a user's experience with your brand. It is important to keep in mind that now more than ever, high-quality and engaging content will need to be included in your brand's overall content strategy.

A video related to trending topics can be engaging, just make sure the content is relevant to your community. Another great thing to try is an educational video featuring your product to draw people in and foster trust in your brand. (Are you noticing that both of those involve videos?)

Relatable topics are usually appealing to users. When in doubt, think about something you would engage with or share. For example, does a candid post about recent weather relate to your business?

Maybe a photo of the office dog greeting employees resonates with your brand. Another example could be a status post that invites your followers to weigh in with their knowledge on a topic.

One of the key takeaways from these updates is that users are making it known what they want.

Just as Facebook is listening to its users, your brand should do the same. What is your social audience turning to you for? What engages them?

Companies both big and small will be challenged to focus on creating great content that has value for their target audience. If you're feeling lost in the social media (or video) "woods" of sorts, contact me for a free audit and consultation.

Brook Bentley is Sierra Nevada Media Group's social media and content manager. You can email her at bbentley@sierranevadamedia.com.