Facebook recently announced MAJOR updates to their News Feed that have businesses concerned for good reason. One major thing most small businesses overlook is that Facebook is not a free self-promotion platform, but they are an algorithm and an advertising platform. Remember, if you’re not paying for something, you are the product. They too are a business and make their revenues from advertising, so that means you’re going to have to pay more to play, and play by their rules and algorithms of how Facebook works at maximum efficiency if you want the maximum amount of your followers to see your posts. This blog will cover what Facebook did, what it means for your business, and how you can succeed with Facebook video.
The implications of these recent changes are particularly important for the need for brands to create more video content. Video continues to be an important pillar for Facebook — the “video first” strategy emphasized in earnings and the recent launch of Facebook Watch make that clear — but the recent changes to News Feed (where you and your followers view others posts) indicate that Facebook might still be trying to figure out exactly how video best works into its overall strategy.
What Facebook Did
On January 11th, 2018, Facebook announced that to keep the platform “good for people’s well-being” the company had overhauled its News Feed ranking system. The goal is to return to Facebook’s core mission of creating a social network that builds personal relationships through “meaningful social interactions.”
Video remains a key focus for the social network (as we have seen by the explosion of video on Facebook over the past two years).
What It Means for You
The core change is simple: whatever Facebook considers a meaningful interaction with a post will increase the ranking of that post in the News Feed. The most meaningful interaction is Person to Person (it is a social network after all). 🙂
Person to person interaction will be ranked higher than person to Page (including businesses and influencers) interactions. To do this, Facebook is using the amount and “quality” of interactions. Personal interactions as a proxy for the quality of the content consumed. They figure that the likelihood of a person consuming, interacting, and sharing content is directly related to its quality. By definition, the inverse is true: content that does not organically (naturally by it’s quality of content) lead to lots of interactions will be ranked lower, fulfilling the new goal of de-prioritizing generic, passive, and nonsocial experiences and interactions.
The Head of News Feed at Facebook stated: “As we make these updates, Pages may see their engagement, reach and referral traffic decrease…[and] we’ll show less public content, including posts from publishers or businesses.” With these changes, what’s a business to do?
How to Succeed with Facebook Video
Changes to Facebook, and specifically News Feed ranking methodology, shouldn’t be too surprising. The precedent for ranking some content lower based on its value and authenticity was already set in December 2017 with the “engagement bait” penalty. Ultimately, to be successful on Facebook you need to play by its rules and be ready to adapt quickly when those rules change. In the spirit of adapting, here are five ways to succeed with video on Facebook following these changes:
- High Quality and High Value Video Content: Facebook ranks video that generates person to person interactions higher. To stand a chance, your video has to at least get enough interest with your audience to give them the opportunity to interact. This is going to raise the bar on the relevancy of your video, how interesting it is to your audience, how valuable it is to the individual viewer, and how subtly you can encourage your viewers to interact (without becoming engagement bait). Zuckerberg himself said that we should expect the time spent on Facebook to decrease, with the overall goal that the time spent on Facebook is more valuable. Take this to heart and make your videos and content as valuable as possible.
- Cultivate Meaningful Interaction: Facebook is explicitly prioritizing interaction, and meaningful interaction gets even more points. What is meaningful interaction? For starters, interactions from your connections will get the biggest boost in the new ranking system because “interacting with people you’re close to is more meaningful.” The more likes, comments and shares you get, the more your videos will be exposed to a broader audience. An interesting spin on this is that the quality of and effort in the interaction also affects its rank. According to Facebook, “typing out a long and thoughtful reply to a friend’s post” will increase the ranking of that post more than “just scrolling through the Facebook feed, passively reading or watching without interacting with others.” Ultimately, your Facebook video strategy will be successful if you can tap into your viewers’ interest and excitement for your video and get them to interact with it as deeply as possible.
- Livestream to Your Audience: Not surprisingly, live-streaming video is explicitly called out in the Facebook update. According to the announcement, live videos on Facebook get six times more interaction, on average, than “regular” videos. Given the new ranking system, live video streaming on Facebook is an opportunity for brands and publishers to get front and center with their audience. Technical considerations aside, we recommend tying livestreams to something time-sensitive, like a special promotion, event, product announcement or real-time news story. Creating urgency and a reason for seeing what you have to say first is the most important part of creating a captive live audience. Once you have that audience, build “calls-to-interaction” into your message to promote your livestream and increase its ranking in Facebook.
- Build Personal Connections: Social networks exist to connect people and Facebook’s new rules will prioritize videos with which people and Groups interact. One way to take advantage of this is to make your video more personal and authentic and well-thought out. Video that makes a personal connection will encourage others to interact with it, increasing its ranking. In other words, plan your videos out carefully and thoughtfully or use help of a professional such as our video team at SYN3RGY Creative. Another way to get better rankings will be to set up your employees to take part in your Facebook video strategy.
- Diversify and Take Ownership of Your Video Distribution: This last tip isn’t specifically about Facebook, but it’s critical to your company’s long-term video success. The reality of working with Facebook, or any other social network, is that you are not in control. It’s someone else’s business and at the end of the day, you can’t rely on them to always do what is best for you. With that in mind, we have two recommendations. First, there are other social networks out there (YouTube, SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram to name a few.), and each of them is making video a top priority. Yes, you’ll need to tailor your videos for the expectations and capabilities of each social network, but it will be worth it. Second, don’t forget about your own web properties. Whether it’s your website, blog, landing pages, or apps video is what people want. Make it easy for them to understand your message and make decisions that lead to the results you want.
Are these changes something you should be concerned about? Yes. Best rest assured there are ways to adapt your Facebook video strategy so you can still be successful. As you make changes to your Facebook strategy and expand to other social networks, you may want to schedule a conversation with us on how to best adjust your social media strategy for early 2018. Our expert team will give you professional insights into the demographics of your online customers and prospects, how to plan your social media strategy, ideas for videos your brand should have, and more.
Thanks for reading and we’ll talk to you soon about your video and social media needs.