In SEO circles, the news of the day is Mobilegeddon, the somewhat hyperbolic name applied to a Google algorithm change that went into effect earlier this week. But over in the social-verse, content creators and brands have their eyes peeled on a Facebook algorithm update rolling out over the next few weeks that could change the game for publishers.
Business Insider was quick to apply the same end-of-days lingo to this update. “Facebookgeddon” could make it more difficult for page owners to get their content in front of fans. It’s not just speculation; as Facebook product manager Max Eulenstein and UX researcher Lauren Scissors wrote, In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”
Critically, these changes come as a result of user feedback Facebook has been collecting for some time. You’re probably no stranger to the drop-down arrow in Facebook posts that saves you from the content you don’t want to see. “I don’t want to see this” has become a salvation phrase. Everything from un-funny memes and incendiary political posts to your friends’ interactions with pages you don’t care about can be filtered from your News Feed. And Facebook has been synthesizing your feedback into actionable data, trying to answer the question, “How can we improve the News Feed?”
Here’s what Facebook came up with:
1. Allow multiple posts from the same source to be shown back-to-back in a user’s News Feed. Previously, Facebook’s algorithm prevented this from happening in an effort to better balance content. However, for users without many content sources (Page Likes), this meant a sparse News Feed. Now, if your fans run out of content but are still spending time in the News Feed, Facebook will start showing more of your posts.
What it means: This change won’t rewrite the book for publishers, but we all might benefit from a little extra post reach. It will still be best practice to populate your page with meaningful content that provides something of value for your audience and avoid spam for the sake of bolstering your post count.
2. Better balance the display of friend updates and page content for the individual. This update is vague, but Facebook tells us users have expressed concern that they’re missing important photos, videos, and status updates from their friends. This is particularly relevant for users with a lot of them.
What it means: This sounds bad for pages, but Facebook promises, “if you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.” This suggests that each user’s unique engagement habits will more heavily factor into what News Feed displays. This will certainly devalue page content for some users, but your biggest champions might see more of your posts, balancing the impact to a degree. However…
3. Stories about friends liking or commenting on a post will be devalued, appearing “lower down in News Feed or not at all.”
What it means: Second-hand reach could suffer. Your most active audience members will more easily see your content, but their friends are less likely to see that activity. It’s hard to imagine any positive impact for pages here.
How about actionable advice? (1) Post frequently, and (2) post valuable content with calls to action, compelling visuals, and great headlines–like those that speak to identity or emotion. Facebook’s update doesn’t change these best practices, but the quality standard for driving referral traffic and engagement has likely been raised.