The front sign outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The social media giant recently announced changes to its news feed that will impact how much content users see from business pages.
Menlo Park, California--Facebook is making another change, and this one is likely to affect business and brand accounts.

In an announcement posted to its website, the company said that over the next few months it would be making updates to the News Feed function in regards to ranking and what shows up for users.

In addition to using factors like reactions, comments or shares to determine how high a post appears in News Feed, Facebook now also will prioritize posts that “spark conversation and meaningful interactions between people.” They will do this by predicting which posts users might want to interact with and show them higher in feeds.

They also will prioritize posts from family and friends above public content.

Meanwhile, using what Facebook refers to as “engagement-bait,” content designed to goad people into commenting on or liking posts, will continue to be demoted in News Feed.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg shared the company’s reasoning behind the changes in a post on his own account, noting that the social media site wants to get back to giving people a positive experience where they are actively connecting with family and friends and interacting with a community.

The changes come in response to mounting critcism over the role that the content consumed on Facebook plays in society, and the amount of time people spend mindlessly scrolling through the social networking site, often to their own detriment.

What’s important to note for anyone who uses Facebook for business is that organic reach for brands and public accounts, which already isn’t strong, is now expected to decline more.

The company said in its blog post that public pages “may” see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease; the impact of the change will vary, depending on the type of content being shared by each page and how users interact with it.

Facebook said pages that share content that users don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decline in reach. Meanwhile, pages whose posts get conversation going are less likely to be affected by the update.

What Can Be Done
While the full effects of the changes remain to be seen, it’s a good time for each business page to examine its Facebook strategies and make adaptions and improvements where needed.

The most important way to be sure a business is mitigating the effects of the change is to post content that is engaging and relevant to the audience and will drive actual conversation.

There are also a number of others steps companies can take in the wake of the news, according to a few experts.

1. Facebook Live videos will be even more important when it comes to the new News Feed.

Most of the social media experts National Jeweler reached out to spoke about the importance of the platform in the new algorithm.

Live videos often are great ways to start conversations; in fact, Facebook said Live videos get, on average, six time as many interactions as regular videos.

According to Amanda Plecas, vice president and chief creative officer of Waterhouse PR, businesses should think of it this way: if it was previously accomplished with a text post, photo or a video link, it’s better to find a way to post that content in a Facebook Live video.

For example, instead of holding a contest and encouraging followers to tag a friend or share the content, a store could hold a drawing on Facebook Live, or they could use a live video to answer questions, talk about new inventory, share popular trends or talk about your business.

“Businesses using Facebook will need to adopt a more ‘TV station’ mentality when planning their social media posts: When is a good time to go live, what does our audience want to see, where is the best light, what will we talk about, what will we wear?”

It’s important, Plecas added, to keep a regular schedule so followers know when to expect something.

Christian Karasiewicz, a consultant and public speaker on social media, internet marketing and technology, said one way to do that could be host a Facebook Live video on a weekly basis to give the audience a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the business, whether that be creating a piece of jewelry or explaining metals and stones to consumers.

Facebook also will continue to put a growing emphasis on regular videos on News Feed, which means businesses should familiarize themselves with Facebook video marketing best practices to maximize their effort, said Jason Hsiao, co-founder of video creation company Animoto.

Facebook recommends in its Ad Manager using videos that are either square or vertical because they are better suited to mobile, a key component for the social network.

Facebook Live makes it easy to shoot a vertical video on your phone, but there are programs and apps that allow you to cut video of any ratios into a square, which is good not only for Facebook but also can be used on Instagram.  

In addition, adding text to your video so that it can still be viewed in a “sound-off, mobile environment” is also important, Hsiao said.

2. Facebook Messenger, though less important than videos, also has a good reach.

When a message is sent via this direct service on the site, people receive a notification from Facebook, and the response is “above average,” said V. Michael Santoro, co-founder of video marketing company Vaetas LLC.

Stores, brands or designers can build a list of followers and send them content and specials via the messenger features. They could also use it to encourage followers to sign up for an email list.

3. Another increasingly important strategy is creating a budget for Facebook ads.

It’ll be even more important now to get the best content in front of the desired audience by spending some money.

Christina Hager, who’s in charge of social media strategy and distribution at multimedia company Overflow Storytelling Lab, said Facebook Ads should be run as campaigns.

“They each should have clear objectives: What do you want someone to do from this ad? Do you want them to download something? Click on your website? Comment or engage with your page?”

Keep in mind that Facebook ads also can target a very specific group of people, including an email list, or re-target people who may have already visited your website, all of which can be done through the Ad Manager.

The more specific you can be, the more effective the ad, said social media consultant Jackie Kossoff.

For instance, a local jewelry store that wants to promote a new line of engagement rings should create multiple ads to target different segments of the audience within a concentrated geographic radius.

The main ad could be targeted at women in long-term relationships who have shown interest in engagement- and wedding-related activities and vendors. Another could target men who are preparing to propose and might have been researching proposal ideas, while still another could be designed for the LGBT community.  

4. Another option is to create a Facebook Group and have the business page run it.

It’s a free way to get content out to customers who want and need it but may not be seeing content because of the new algorithm, Hager said.

Devon Vocke, co-founder of public relations and digital marketing agency Evoke Strategy, suggested the same thing, noting that it could provide an opportunity to continue to give information and support and promote dialogue through both the page and the group.
 
5. You can prompt users to prioritize your business page.

People who want to see more posts from pages they follow can choose “See First” in their News Feed preferences to make sure they always see posts from certain pages. It would be in the business’s best interest to let them know about this and encourage them to do it.  

6. You can also emphasize other mediums.

Drive newsletter sign-ups through your Facebook followers to help provide another way to reach them, Vocke suggested, and promote your other social channels as well.

If all of this sounds like too much to process, businesses could consider hiring a social media strategist.

Even if it’s not in the budget to hire one on a permanent basis, Hager said, “No matter where you live, you should be able to find someone whom you could hire to audit your social media channels, provide you with a social media strategy, or set up the first round of Facebook ads.”

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