Does Facebook’s Newest Algorithm Update Mean It’s Time for Businesses to Leave?

On April 21st, Facebook released its most recent algorithm update. It was touted by Facebook as a way to give preference to posts from people’s friends and other publishers they routinely interact with but is being received by marketers as the latest move towards ‘Facebook Zero’ – a terrifying world where Facebook pages receive 0% organic reach. So what exactly did Facebook do and how will it impact your business page? Does this newest change mean it may be time for your business to leave Facebook? Let’s take a look.

What Was the Update?

There are 3 parts to this update as outlined on Facebook’s blog post about the changes. Let’s look at those briefly here, then go into a bit more detail below:

  1. Facebook will now allow multiple pieces of content to be seen from the same publisher if the viewer doesn’t have a lot of content to see.
  2. Facebook will put increased emphasis on posts from friends and use your interaction history as a guide to weight posts from friends accordingly.
  3. Facebook will put decreased emphasis on showing posts that have been “Liked” and/or commented on by your friends.

So how will this impact your business page? Let’s look at them one by one.

Update 1: Content Repeat

Previously, Facebook would look to limit posts in an attempt to stop people who didn’t have a lot of content to view from being shown posts from the same publisher two or more times in a row. This algorithm update relaxes that. Here’s what Facebook had to say:

[quotes style=”classic” align=”left” author=””]Previously, we had rules in place to prevent you from seeing multiple posts from the same source in a row. With this update, we are relaxing this rule. Now if you run out of content, but want to spend more time in News Feed, you’ll see more.[/quotes]

What this means for your business page: Probably not much. If anything I’d think this would be a positive. If you have people who follow you, there’s an increased chance that they’ll see more of your posts… especially if they’re unpopular (totally kidding).

Update 2: Friends First

OK, now we’re starting to get into the scary stuff. Here’s what Facebook said about this update:

[quotes style=”classic” align=”left” author=””]We’ve also learned that people are worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there is a lot of content for them to see each day. The second update tries to ensure that content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it. If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.[/quotes]

This is a little scary for business page managers. Facebook is again putting more emphasis on showing content from the people you choose to hang out with organically (i.e. your friends) vs. business pages. The content displayed will be chosen based on your interaction history. If you routinely interact with a friend’s posts (or a business’s posts) you’ll be more likely to see more of them. Conversely, if you don’t interact with a friend’s posts (or a business’s posts), you’ll be less likely to have them displayed on your timeline.

More on this: [Free Download] Facebook — Converting Fans into Paying Customers

What this means for your business page: This update is certainly more alarming than the first. It stands to reason that if Facebook is dedicating more timeline space to friend’s posts there will be less being devoted to your business page’s posts. While Saturday Harry thinks this is great, business Harry is a bit concerned.

Update 3: Likes Don’t Matter

Have you ever been on Facebook and seen a story in your News Ffeed that says, “Jimmy liked this,” or “Jimmy commented on this,” and been like, after that stunt he pulled at the family Christmas party, I don’t care what Jimmy says and does… Apparently you’re not the only one. Well, maybe the only one still holding a grudge against Jimmy for the Christmas Fiasco of 2012, but not the only one who doesn’t necessarily care to see what your friends are liking and commenting on. Facebook had this to say about update number 3.

[quotes style=”classic” align=”left” author=””]…many people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked.[/quotes]

So stories about what your friends have liked and commented on will now have decreased emphasis when it comes to what is displayed in your News Feed.

What this means for your business page: Like the rest of the updates, it’s too early to really tell, but it seems like this is another thing that could make it harder for your business page’s posts to be seen organically. One of the main benefits of making great, shareable content was that when people liked or commented on it, there was a chance that their friends (who are also in the same demographic most likely) would see it, too, giving you the chance to “go viral” (I hate that saying but I’ll say it anyway) and have great organic reach.

This update shows that likes are really nothing more than a cosmetic things now and even goes so far as to de-emphasizes comments, the solicitation of which was formerly a Holy Grail for Facebook marketers. It also increases the value of shares and may drive more marketers to ask for some type of action from their fans (i.e. share this) to increase page reach.

Update 3 also highlights the importance of brand advocates, “regular people” who fly below Facebook’s Brand filters who will share the good word about your business to others. If you haven’t already, prepare yourself for the newest buzz phrase, “Employee Advocacy.”

So, Is It Time To Mosey On Down That Trail?

So with all of these updates, is it time for your business leave Facebook and move on to more organic pastures? The answer is: it depends.

This update is the clearest indicator to date that Facebook’s organic uses for most businesses are going by the wayside. If you have a dedicated following or have a marketing budget, Facebook may still be a good medium for you. However, it will become harder and more expensive for small businesses to reach out to new fans on Facebook.

That being said, this update really makes sense. Facebook is a business after all, so don’t hate. They have to make money somehow. I don’t know if Mark Zuckerberg could make it on the streets. And it also makes Facebook a better place for the user, and providing a better experience for users and customers should be a focus for us all.

What do you think about this update? Will your business continue to maintain a presence on Facebook?

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Harry Kierbow

About Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow is the Director of Social Media for Commissions Inc (CINC), a real estate technology and marketing company. He's played professionally on Facebook (and other social networks) for more than 7 years now, managing campaigns for brands (both big and small) and individuals (also both big and small). Universally regarded as the greatest ice hockey goalie to ever come from Griffin, GA (by his mom at least), you can find Harry between the pipes on the ice rinks of Georgia (yes, there is more than one) or playing with his 2 kids when he's not perfecting social media ads or binging true crime documentaries on Netflix. Connect with Harry on LinkedIn @HarryKierbow.