A Look at Facebook's Social Media Algorithm Changes in January 2018

What Facebook’s Social Media Algorithm Changes in January 2018 Mean for Content Marketers

by | Jan 18, 2018 | Social Media

When you are on Facebook, do you ever realize that suddenly, you see a post from a page that you hadn’t seen in a really long time?

In fact, you might have forgotten you’d liked that page at a certain point in near-obsolete history.

That scenario probably sounds very familiar, and also sometimes frustrating as we all try to understand the latest Facebook social media algorithms that have been put in place.

Businesses are worrying about losing interaction and a decrease in distribution—while on the flip side, consumers miss opportunities they don’t even know exist, because they didn’t interact with your page regularly.

With the latest changes, what does that mean for businesses and content marketers?

I’m diving in today. Grab a mocha, latte, or tea and come join me.

facebook algorithm change 2018

What’s Up with Facebook’s Social Media Algorithm? Why Facebook is Changing for Your Benefit

According to Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed over at Facebook, the goal for these changes is to create an environment for meaningful engagement on behalf of the end user.

The latest update will predict posts that end users do and don’t want to see based on individual interactions.

Posts that are seen are meant to inspire discussion between friends, communities, and other pages.

If you are a content marketer, this may make you say, “Well, how can I make sure that my business doesn’t tank like so many others? How does that benefit me?”

These changes will encourage you to step up your game by being more interactive with your audience, and the benefits of doing so can cause your business to grow exponentially.

Finding the Key that Opens the Door

Recently, I discussed just how to find the key to content marketing that will keep your business growing and thriving.

There are some trial and error approaches to see what works best for your audience, but you owe it to yourself to find the answer for your page.

It could be an active group that focuses on you or your service or product. It could be a source outside of Facebook like Twitter or maybe a regular webinar or podcast. It could be a combination of all of the above.

As long as your post is meaningful and not spammy, you are going in the right direction, but there is a bit more to it.

What Not to Post on Your Page or In Your Group: Defining Engagement Bait

People do not like posts that look like spam or seem like they are attempting to coerce interactions. Examples like “Like my post if you agree!” or “Like and share if you love cats!” are known in the content marketing industry as engagement bait.

Other phrases like “Vote for your favorite” and “Share with your friends” also fall into the bait category. Avoid creating posts or content that include a phrase like those because that is one of the quickest ways to make people want to unfollow you.

It may look like you’re getting engagement right now with posts like that, but along with the algorithms introduced in December 2017, Facebook is working on limiting anything that carries engagement bait phrasing.

Keep that in mind when you post a picture or an article because Facebook strives for authenticity from people and businesses when they post an update to their pages and groups.

The posts above from Parenting Hub, Wish.com, and even The Weather Channel are prime examples of engagement bait style posts, and these are well-known, established companies.

As the algorithms to remove these posts are recent, everyone has a learning curve to go through.

This includes larger businesses just as much as mom and pop shops that use social media as part of their content marketing strategy.

Use this knowledge to your advantage and get ahead of the game by learning how to produce authentic posts that people will want to see in their News Feed.

What Authenticity Means According to Facebook

Facebook is forever adapting to meet the needs and wants of its consumer base that includes over two billion people up from a mere 100 million users ten years ago.

According to them, their research shows that beyond seeing updates from friends and family, there are “two other strong expectations” which include posts being informative and posts being entertaining.

From a content marketer’s perspective, you need to look at your posts and what they do for your audience.

  • Is your content informative?
  • Is your content entertaining?

If you can answer yes to either of those questions, then your posts will be more meaningful, which means you are going in the right direction.

Understanding How Meaningful Posts Work

Meaningful posts on social media are relative to the people viewing them. When you’re developing your content marketing strategy, you need to have a handle on your target persona to be able to create posts that will be meaningful to your audience.

When you have the target persona defined, you can develop content that will be relevant to your consumer base.

As an example, if you are a cleaning product company aimed at the residential sector, your audience is likely going to be interested in the latest trends in cleaning items and ensuring safety for their families by using non-toxic recommendations.

You can be the voice that they listen to when you post content that contains information they want to read therefore making the post meaningful in its interaction.

Entertainment is Also Meaningful for Your Audience

People also enjoy being entertained, so if you leverage the desire for entertainment in your content marketing strategy with your social media posts, you will have a leg up on the competition.

Think about all of the funny pictures and videos that get shared by your friends.

If a post, image, or funny video resonates with you like this clip posted by Good Housekeeping and its viewer audience, it will be more likely to be shared.

Good Housekeeping knows their audience can relate to this particular funny video because their target audience is made up of adults that are parents with families. The video becomes a meaningful way to engage and generate conversation which is evident by the 29 million views this one video has had since August 5, 2017.

Generate Content that Generates Conversation

As a content marketer, you want to generate conversation with your audience, but the question remains as to how to make that happen.

With the updates that Facebook is putting into play, content marketers will see their reach, video watch time, and traffic decrease on the social media platform. To minimize the expected reduction, the most significant factors that will impact traffic are the content produced and the way that users interact with the content.

What you want to do is create content that makes your audience stop and say, “Hey, that’s great! I need to share that!” or “Wow, I can’t believe that. I need to share it!” Either way will lead to sharing and generating conversation.

That means that you need to share educational and informative content that is relevant to your audience as well as content that entertains. The informative information is usually easier to develop into a meaningful post, but how do you make that work with funny material that is entertaining?

What Goes Into a Meme or Viral Video?

Some major points can’t be forgotten when creating an entertaining meme that you intend to share with the public including being aware of your audience and keeping the image relevant to you and your brand.

The first goes back to knowing your audience because your meme needs to have an image that your audience will understand. Just because you think it is witty and creatively funny doesn’t mean your audience will get it. Always put them at the forefront of your memes and videos to keep the scope of your post intact. Memes are used to spread cultural and relevant information while being simultaneously amusing.

Videos work much the same way.

In one example, there is a mom in Dallas, Texas who went on a rant about Red Ribbon Week. Melissa Radke’s video has been shared almost 200,000 times and viewed several million times since October 2016 because it touched a chord in a lot of people.

They either related to her, or they couldn’t stand what she said. Either way, it got people talking. Her video spread cultural awareness of how many parents feel and how at least part of the public feels about this campaign that has been a part of Texas culture for over 30 years. The video is still shared even today.

Make 2018 The Year You Create Your Best Content, & the Algorithms Will Have Nothing to Penalize

I’m going to discuss more on how to do live video next, but there’s something I want to say before that.

Create your best content this year, and stick to your most comfortable format.

Horse-blind yourself to everything else.

If that’s written content, stick to written content.

If that’s video content, stick to video.

Play with other formats whenever you want to, but you need a go-to format where you’re consistently building your online authority and presence.

No matter how many trends hit the market, the best creators are those that find their sweet spot and truly get comfortable creating their best content on their favorite platform. Time and time again.

For example:

Mark Schaefer holds the title of the world’s top five business blogger and author. He didn’t get there through live-streaming, podcasting, etc. In fact, he told me on my podcast with him that he stuck to blogging for years before trying anything else. Listen to my podcast with Mark.

The majority of our leads at Express Writers have come in through the 1,000+ blogs we’ve published over the last 5 years. Our primary content marketing focus is blogging. Everything else, from my Twitter chat to podcast to Facebook group, has come in secondarily to blogging.

Schaefer and my own story at Express Writers are prime examples of finding and building your core authority in one platform and area, instead of jumping around in order to not miss out on the trends. By doing too much of that, you might miss out completely on building an audience. 

Make Posts Even More Meaningful with Live Video

We’ve covered the idea that your content marketing posts, whether articles, pictures, or videos need to be informative or entertaining to create a meaningful post for your audience, but have you ever thought about doing live video feeds?

Live feeds have the potential to be an essential marketing tool for content marketers if they are done correctly. Facebook has declared that videos will receive priority in their News Feed if they meet at least one of the two following criteria:

What this means for content marketers is that it would be great to have reoccurring videos set up like shows in a series.

Facebook wants videos that people will seek out and visit repeatedly, so having a live video series that is both entertaining and informative is a win-win for you and your target audience.

Regularly Occurring Shows are Not the Only Way to Go

While video streaming set up with series-style predictability is a Facebook recommendation, there are other ways to do live streaming, too, which can also boost your visibility.

Facebook has a neat feature when it comes to videos – they send out a push notification to your entire audience when you go live. These notifications serve as great reminders when you are planning something like a live webinar you want to share with your audience.

As I found out first hand, planning your Lives is a good thing. I had an idea to be spontaneous about a live stream – it generated less than 200 views. Random live streams do not engage your audience as much as a live stream that has been planned and scheduled out in advance.

When I prepared for and scheduled a live stream for my book launch, with a guest expert to boot – Mark Schaefer, my Live attendance increased to more than 1,500 viewers.

Where to Find Viewers

You know what to do to increase your viewer audience and create meaningful engagement for your business, but you may not know where to find these viewers.

The answer is surprisingly simple – use multiple platforms to find them. Use Twitter, build community groups, broadcast podcasts, and blog regularly to establish an online presence. No, it won’t happen overnight, but with consistency and time, your audience will grow.

Blogging regularly is especially important because it gives you industry credibility, and research has repeatedly shown that blogging periodically has a positive correlation with overall incoming business.

Perhaps most importantly, at the end of every blog, podcast, and Twitter chat, you want to have a CTA or call-to-action to direct your audience to where you would like them to go. Facebook groups are a perfect place to send them because as a content marketer, you can have your audience at your fingertips, ready to read or watch whatever you send their way.

Action List Takeaways: 12 Best Practice Suggestions for Content Marketers

As Facebook makes these updates over the next few months, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you keep yourself in other people’s News Feeds.

  1. Keep your finger on the pulse of new social media policies and ever-changing algorithms.
  2. Think about the type of content you produce: create your best. If that’s written content, stick to written. If that’s video content, stick to video. Make 2018 the year you create your best. 
  3. Remind people to select “See First” in their News Feed Preferences for your page.
  4. Stay away from engagement bait.
  5. Be authentic in your posts to create meaningful engagement.
  6. Get to know your audience persona to publish relevant memes and videos.
  7. Trial and error is par for the course to figure out what works for your audience.
  8. Post content that generates conversations.
  9. Don’t shy away from live videos, keeping in mind my “create your best” theme from #2.
  10. Consider developing and creating a regular live video feed.
  11. Plan and post about future live sessions.
  12. Use multiple platforms to feed your Facebook communities, pages, and overall engagement.

Join our Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest content marketing strategies and keep finding ways to engage your community, all at the same time.

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