Facebook Keeps Brands Out Of The Friend Zone

Status Update: The number of daily active Facebook users in North America has dropped for the first time in the company’s history. Is it time for a shake-up?
In a drastic move that sent shock waves across the brand industry, the social media behemoth is eliminating publisher and branded content from the newsfeed. Instead, they want homepages to be more private and more focused on what your closest friends and family are sharing.
The new algorithm will work on a ranking based system where points will be given for likes, comments and shares. Ultimately, person to person is more valuable than person to page. So if you share a post from your favourite craft brewery it won’t be as valuable unless one of your friends comments on it. To reinforce this change, Facebook will also be pushing more local based news to the feed to create a greater sense of community spirit.
Why has this happened?
From a brand and publisher perspective, some were getting plain lazy. It’s becoming too easy to goad people into liking and commenting on irrelevant posts. “Share this if you’re an Aeries”, “click like if you love cuddling puppies” or “tag someone who looks like this when they’re hung over”. There is no care taken in these engagement-bait posts and rather than absorb content, people just swipe right past it. And for good reason. We’ve seen it all before.
That’s why one of Facebook’s new core principles is authenticity. One company spokesman said, “We want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook”.
Even though executives admit users will spend less time on Facebook, they believe that the time spent will be more valuable. The hope is people become active participators in engaging meaningful dialogue rather than passive observers with no interest in the subject.
What can brands do?

  • For brands to be top of mind, users will need to change their News Feed Preferences to ‘See First’ to make sure they always see posts from their favourite Pages.
  • Brands will be forced to spend more time curating posts that invoke a response and ignite conversation. Rather than hope for likes, ask a question that gets people talking and exchanging ideas.
  • Although the News Feed policy change won’t allow organic posts from companies, it will not affect the ad system. This means brands will have to spend even more money to land those coveted spots on users’ profiles.
  • A huge part of some companies’ marketing strategies is to work with social influencers to amplify reach and promote products. Even though the YouTube superstars have essentially become companies themselves (Facebook changed well known influencers Profiles to Pages), this policy modification has opened the door for much smaller vloggers to gain reach and building their fan base. With a bit of digging brands could uncover the next PewteePie and reap the huge rewards of influencer marketing.
  • Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. So if brands are holding a live-event or an experiential marketing activation, sign-in to the Facebook app, hit record and start streaming!

Final Thoughts
Although brands will feel the effects of this major change, it is an important lesson in what kind of content should be posted. It’s critical, now more than ever, that your branded output inspires people and gives them social and meaningful benefits. Clicking ‘Like’ is not going to cut it anymore. Brands must stimulate meaningful discussion and get people thinking, typing and sharing.