Facing Facebook’s New Algorithms

by Claire Polansky

Facebook changes amidst Fake News

Fake news and new Facebook algorithms may make digital marketing seem bleak, but keep your chin up. This is merely a reminder to encourage “meaningful interactions” on your social media channels and produce only value-added content.

On January 11, CEO and Cofounder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg sparked new concerns about the direction of social media and content marketing when he announced plans to make changes to Facebook’s algorithms again in order to “help people stay connected.”

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.We built…

Publiée par Mark Zuckerberg sur jeudi 11 Janvier 2018

Zuckerberg claimed that he is “changing the goal [he] give[s Facebook’s] product teams from focusing on helping [users] find relevant content to helping [users] have more meaningful social interactions” in response to recent psychological research involving social media.

But this was only the start of the social media debate.

Less than a week after Zuckerberg’s announcement to change Facebook algorithms, American President Donald Trump publicly made a mockery of popular news sources on January 17th when he revealed his “Fake News winners” on Twitter with a link to his GOP website.

Trump resurrected the term “Fake News” during his political campaign and has continued to use it to derail public scrutiny since his election. The topic of fake news fueled online debates about reliable new sources since Trump’s campaign, so Zuckerberg finally addressed the topic publicly.

On January 19, Zuckerberg continued the discussion about upcoming changes.

Continuing our focus for 2018 to make sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent… Last week I…

Publiée par Mark Zuckerberg sur vendredi 19 Janvier 2018

He noted that “Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.” His solution is to start a community rating system for questionable content.

After all, according to Pew Research Center, Facebook outstrips other social media sites as a source of news for Americans— not to mention others around the globe.

Thus, Zuckerberg plans to rely on community input in order to “promote high-quality news.” He tells us, As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don’t follow them directly. “

In this way, he hopes to rebalance the news based on the trust of the community. Although he hopes “news” will only make up 4% of Facebook newsfeeds after the changes to algorithms reignite the social component of social media in response to Zuckerberg’s reported concerns about consumers’ psychological health.

Of course, this is up to debate. Inc. writer Amy Morin notes that the “social” content is actually what contributes to a mental health decline, while no one complains in her therapy office because of a silly cat video. And the same probably goes for branded blogs and ads too.

Incidentally, Morin refers to a study in Computers in Human Behavior that observed that most people use social media for news and entertainment rather than direct social interactions. So if our marketing efforts on Facebook go by the wayside, I imagine Facebook goes with it.

I hardly think it is Facebook news feed Armageddon. But hopefully, we will get to say goodbye to click-bate. And I trust that you hear the wake-up call for your digital marketing practices, particularly on Social Media.

What do the new Facebook algorithms mean to content marketing?

First of all, if you don’t use Facebook for marketing your startup, it’s time for you to brush up on digital marketing 101. You not only have PPC ads; you also have endless opportunities to publish your blogs and/or videos and to engage with your brand’s consumers.

While Google has long since been making it their priority to rate and organize quality content in their endless efforts to improve search engine optimization (SEO), Facebook has not been keeping up to the same standards. This might be the reason for the rampant fake news “wildfires.”

We already know that content marketing is the king of digital marketing and leads the way for inbound marketing, so some of these flames may actually be coming from brands. In efforts to keep content fresh and juice in the search engine crawlers, some marketers might punch out content without fact-checking.

Ding! There goes their reliability.

Unfortunately, that content slips through on Facebook. But with the new algorithms and rating system, this might be good news for your reliable content. Your blog or news page may even be one of the ones they rank. Let’s call it extra PR courtesy of Facebook.

In the end, content marketing is so successful in part because people are looking for information and a way to solve a specific problem— not you per se. We’re living in the age of skepticism and cynics. That’s probably why banner ads seem to be dropping–at least in my verticals. But if you can write content that stands out as high-quality information, you are more likely to keep your ratings up with the new changes.

And that means you’ll gain the trust of your potential consumers.

Make “Friends” on Social Media

You have created a page. You post great articles or videos. But did you know that you need to attract followers and then make them feel welcome? That’s the point of social media. It’s like the watercooler of the office or comfy digital couch with your friends.<

If you were face to face, wouldn’t that be rude not to talk to them? So why ignore your “friends” online?

According to a Forbes writer, this also means social listening beyond your page. If people are talking about a relevant hot topic, you need to get up there as an influencer.  That means you need to comb Facebook for discussions about topics that may pertain to your vertical, say how to keep a startup going.

It helps if you use analytics that track engagement time as well. If you engage in real time, you’ll have better results because you can have an actual conversation vs. an e-mail-like thread. You can grab them and get on a private chat and maybe close a deal.

Likewise, you may want to pipe in on discussions directly about your brand.

The bottom line: if you want to stay in the 4-5% of content that will be read and shared, you need to make yourself a top influencer. Rise above the fake news.

Featured Image: Mark Zuckerberg f8 Keynote courtesy of Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com and bub.blicio.us.

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Author: Claire Polansky

I am a Jill-of-all-trades marcom specialist and high tech autodidact. I stay upstream with the rapidly moving high tech scene by excessively reading anything and everything. When I am not reading or writing, you can find me with my dogs on the beach basking in the Mediterranean sun.

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