Who loses from Facebook’s most recent change to all-powerful News Feed algorithm? Basically, any organization or company with a Facebook Page that ahs relied on “organic” (non-paid) distribution to get content in front of its followers. Small businesses and local nonprofits would seem to be hurt the most, since many will lack the resources to pay to have their stories seen. Good content strategy may help, but not everyone will have the knowledge and the time to create content that might not pay off at all.
Facebook’s new emphasis on content from friends and family DOES create winners, however. Here are two:
With organic content no longer a reliable route to supporters’ hearts and minds, many organizations will shift attention to digital channels that they DO control. Email already reaches more people than Facebook, and someone who’s given their address to a nonprofit or campaign have already shown some level of commitment. Email may also help counteract the algorithm change, if to a small extent: many organizations will send messages asking people to share particular Facebook posts or pieces of content, and some will form dedicated “social media share squads”.
Look for organizations to grow their email lists by all of the usual mechanisms, from on-the-ground events to dedicated lead-generation sites like Care2. Email consultants should also see an uptick in business, as groups hire them to make sure that their messages do the job…and that they actually arrive in the inbox. Of course, another way to build a list is through our second winner:
2. Facebook Ads
Who’s NOT freaking out about the algorithm changes? Companies that already spend a lot of money on Facebook ads. They may have an organic content strategy as well, but they’ve already decided that the most reliable way to reach people via Facebook posts is to pay for the privilege. With organic distribution now a dream for most publishers, expect Facebook’s ad revenue to keep climbing — on top of a 47% year-over-year increase in the third quarter of 2017.
Campaigns and organizations should get creative in their ad strategies, trying new practices (like using automated ad placement to run many different variants of a given posts), new targeting models and new(er) Facebook ad products. One option likely to be popular? Facebook “lead generation” ads, which let organizations build their email lists directly from Facebook ad units.
Stepping back from the micro-level of organization communications, these changes do feel as though Facebook is retreating from its dream of being the one intermediary between us and the vast world of internet content. But for day to day communicators, the change may not turn out to be so radical after all — Facebook’s functionally been pay-to-play for most publishers for years, whether they admitted it or not. Meet the new algorithmic boss, same as the old one.