Should brands stop using Facebook in 2018?

 January 11, 2018 - Facebook announces big changes for the newsfeed

January 11, 2018 - Facebook announces big changes for the newsfeed

Mark Zuckerberg just announced a big change impacting the Facebook newsfeed.

You can read an extract of the original post below but in short, here is what is happening : Facebook as realized that users are annoyed by the amount of content they see that comes from brands and publishers and not from friends.

Facebook cannot afford to frustrate users, as users are what they monetize. So they need to improve user experience and that is why they are going to make sure users see more updates from their friends, and less content from brands.

"But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
It's easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there's more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do -- help us connect with each other.
[...]
Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

On a personal note, I doubt that users get more annoyed by content from Pages they choose to follow than by badly targeted ads. But these are the new rules of the game.

Consequences for brands

This all sounds like brands are going to see a massive cut back into their organic reach. Actually, this has been happening for the past couple of years already, because of the ever growing amount of content and the limited space available on the newsfeed. 

Things might get a bit worse in the coming year, but they were already not that great anymore for a lot of brands, to be honest. Right now, it's hard to say what the exact impact of this news will be, but when your organic reach is already 1%, there isn't any margin for a huge change.

Also, Facebook users don't care much about our business thoughts. They have gotten used to looking up for businesses on Facebook, the network has become almost as much of a windows to businesses than websites. So do we want them to find tumbleweed when they visit our Page? Or worse, to find that our Page has gone and so, maybe our business has, too? 

What do we do, now ?

I know right now some brands are wondering if they should leave Facebook altogether or stop posting content. But let us be real here: Facebook is the most used social network. In Belgium, 70% people are on it, and spend 21 mins per day browsing the feed. Can we really afford to leave that on the table? I think we would be stupid to.

Also, users don't care much about our very own Facebook dilemmas, and they have gotten used to looking businesses on Facebook. Do we want them to find tumbleweed on our Page and let them think we may have gone out of business? A Facebook Page is practically as much of a window to your business than a website is. 

So, what do we do, now? There are 4 things we need to do in 2018 :

Create high quality content

No click-bait content, no "like this if" or "tag a friend who" - Facebook will penalize those. But entertaining or informative content that your followers want to see and want to comment on and engage with. Content that will "encourage meaningful interactions between people", in Mark Zuckerberg's words.

Use Groups

Groups will not be impacted by this change. And for a while now they have generated much more organic reach and engagement than Pages. They are a powerful new tool that brands may have underestimated so far. We tell you everything there is to know about Groups in this free e-book.

Promote your content

Yes, we would all prefer being able to reach our audience massively and for free. But let us be real here: no media is free. And Facebook is extremely targeted and very cheap compared to traditional media. While 200€ won't buy you an ad in a local newspaper that nobody is reading, they will already get you results on Facebook. And even if we can expect ad prices to go up due to increased demand and limited inventory, they will probably always be cheaper, more targeted and more measurable than any other kinds of ads. Worth considering, in my opinion.

Diversify

You probably don't want to keep all your eggs in the same basket. We all know how powerful Facebook is, and I do believe you should still use it, but that doesn't mean it is not worth investing in one or two other social channels. They won't be free either, and they will be competitive, too. But you will diversify touchpoints and increase your global reach to your audience. 

There is no reason to panic or to drop Facebook. The change coming was initiated a long time ago and might not be drastic. With the right strategy, Facebook is still a very powerful tool to market your brand, one that you don't want to miss on.