How Facebook’s Algorithm Updates Affect Marketers

Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away. Trying to keep track of the algorithm changes on Facebook can drive you nearly to the brink of madness.

One day you’re cruising along getting plenty of likes on your status updates and the next you’re seeing your subscriber count dropping like flies.

Even the most subtle tweaks can make an impact on direct response and how we market.

Let’s look at the past

Pages and promotions were greatly affected by these major changes in the last few years:

  • Limited Engagement – Those Page updates used to be seen by all those that followed but that all changed due to EdgeRank which meant you had to keep an active level of engagement if you wished to connect with the majority of your followers.
  • No More Likey – People and brands loved asking for likes, comments, and shares. It worked for a while (and still does to some extent) but it got out of hand so FB decided it needed a major overhaul when it came to memes and blatant begging.

What’s happening in the present

Since December 2013 there have already been a few substantial changes to the FB algo:

  • Big Link Shares – Forbes took a look how link sharing is changing. You’ve probably noticed it by now. When sharing a link it usually doesn’t just show the link – it grabs an image and fills it out to the size of the post. Unlike before, which may have had a thumbnail, this larger image makes the posts easier to see when scrolling through the newsfeeds.
  • Cross Page Promotion – Mashable has a quick write up about this new algorithm change. The gist is that when updating a Page post you can tag another Page and be exposed to those followers much like how you do on a user level (such as when tagging someone in a status and it appearing on their timeline).
  • High Quality Articles – Say bye-bye to those (annoying) clickbait headlines. Facebook made a change that strives to push quality content over ones we’ve been seeing by the likes of BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and other sites attempting to game user interest with catchy titles. Facebook doesn’t want reliance on bait-and-switch tactics in images and headlines.

And what to expect in the future

The question becomes what to do, in direct marketing, when you know there are always new changes to the FB algo updates. They are very sporadic – some subtle while others change the entire game.

Two things:

  • Accept the past and present
  • Embrace quality, mobile, and paid

Facebook isn’t going to suddenly roll back to its earlier algorithms so there’s no reason to whine. Change your strategy accordingly else you won’t see decent results. Strive to provide high quality content to the platform (embrace insightful content), understand that users are increasingly accessing through mobile devices (embrace responsive design), and allow a budget that gives the campaigns the ability to reach its target audience (embrace sponsored updates).

Don’t worry about “future proofing” because things can change in an instant. Just do your best with what you’ve got (without chasing the shiny objects) and you’ll see your direct response do well.

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