What Facebook’s revamped News Feed means for PR pros and marketers

Facebook is dropping the hammer—and brand managers are feeling it.

As the biggest social media platform, with
over 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook has been a top priority for investment by content marketers and
PR agencies looking to meet their audience where it spends the most time

However, big changes are coming, and they could have companies reevaluating
their strategies.

The BBC reported:

Facebook is to change how its news feed works, making posts from
businesses, brands and media less prominent.

Organisations on Facebook may see the popularity of their posts decrease as
a result, the firm acknowledged.

The changes will take effect over the coming weeks.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced the changes in a Facebook post,
claiming that the move would make user’s News Feeds “more meaningful.”

He wrote:

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we
care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected
and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness
and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching
videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as

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

He noted that these changes are part of other refinements the Facebook team
has been making over the past year, including
penalizing engagement bait and
encouraging users to join groups.

He continued:

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.

Zuckerberg also admitted Facebook as a whole will see a drop in some
measures of engagement.

He concluded:

Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people
spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also
expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we
do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our
business over the long term too.

What does the change mean for content creators and brand managers who have
relied on Facebook to build a loyal following?

Buzzfeed, itself a publisher that has invested heavily in Facebook,

Facebook put a lot of effort into wooing publishers and brands to its
platform. And publishers and brands put a lot of effort into being there.
But in the end, Facebook didn’t get all that it wanted out of them.
Sensationalized, partisan or flat out bogus news stories mislead people.
Branded content made people reticent to post their dirty-mirror bathroom
selfie when for fear it would end up adjacent to a professionally shot
video with a $3 million budget. Meanwhile, passive consumption of articles
and videos made them just feel bad.

[RELATED: Join is at Walt Disney World for the Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications.]

Here are four ways content marketers and brand managers can adjust their
strategy to keep abreast of the changes coming to Facebook:

Encourage discussion and debate.

In Facebook’s new algorithm, posts with comments and debate from friends
will get more play in the News Feed than posts that have a larger number of

Buzzfeed wrote:

Shares have long been viewed as the thing that made posts go viral on
Facebook, but now comments appear poised take their place. With this
update, Facebook is prioritizing posts in the News Feed that get people
talking to each other in the comments. That puts comments, or more
specifically comment threads, in position to become the new share.

Couple Facebook with other PR efforts.

Facebook wants to be the place where live events are discussed. By creating
other content outside Facebook and then providing a place to discuss that
content on Facebook, brand managers should see their efforts


In our conversation, [VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri] cited Oprah’s recent
Golden Globes speech as content that would fare better in the revamped
feed. Live videos generating discussion, star social media creators,
celebrities, Groups posts, local business events, and trusted news sources
are other types of content that should get a boost.

Ditch passive video.

Facebook concedes that the change will hurt publishers who have come to
rely on video “quick hits” that users scroll through.


The biggest losers will be publishers who’ve shifted resources to invest in
eye-catching pre-recorded social videos, because Mosseri says “video is
such a passive experience”. He admits that he expects publishers to react
with “a certain amount of scrutiny and anxiety”, but didn’t have many
concrete answers about how publishers should scramble to react beyond
“experimenting . . . and seeing…what content gets more comments, more
likes, more reshares.”

Although Facebook has few concrete answers for how publishers should move
forward, it has been unequivocal in stating that keeping strategy stagnant
would be a bad choice.

Create content that builds community.

Facebook’s stated purpose of its recalibration is to bring people together.


“Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past
couple of years” Zuckerberg writes. “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.”

How will you be changing your Facebook strategy, PR Daily readers?

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