January 2018 has been a big month for Facebook updates. Our monthly reporting for retainer clients includes summaries of platform changes and recommendations, which are generally a line or two. However, three big algorithm changes this year so far means that there’s a whole blog post in it!

There has been a lot written in the news about these changes (one even coining the phrase ‘Facebook Armageddon’) However, all of the changes are to give the end users of the Facebook platforms a better user experience, which will also benefit businesses using it in the long term. If you’re that business your strategy just needs to change and adapt.

Facebook’s new mission of bringing people closer together

Mark Zuckerberg announced on January 11th that part of his objective for 2018 was to make sure that users were getting meaningful and personal connections’. As part of that he announced that ‘you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media’

What does this mean for businesses?

Organic reach (content seen automatically by people who like your page) has been declining for years so while this is a statement of intent, it doesn’t actually change much in the short term. Content which your audience wants to read and engage with will continue to do well, promotions and posts which are not engaging less so. Facebook Lives are continuing to be a great way to engage with your audience- can you include behind the scenes or question and answer sessions as part of your strategy. Groups are also becoming a really effective way to connect directly with people- is this relevant to your business?

Facebook is also one of the best low cost advertising platforms available for businesses with over 1000 interests which you can target and layer and the facility to build custom audiences from email lists and website visitors and specifically target. If you aren’t already including this as part of your Facebook strategy 2018 is time to review.

Mark Schaeffer has written a great article on this specific Facebook announcement if you want to read more.

Less news from publishers, more content from friends

On January 19th it was announced that there would be new powers against ‘fake news’ and the algorithm would be reducing the amount of news offered to users in their feeds (down from 5% to 4%)

What does this mean for businesses?

Businesses should continue to create interesting and meaningful headlines, and stay away from ‘clickbait’ style headlines. Instant Articles are also reported to be increasing reach (we’re testing at the moment!)

Promoting Local News

On January 29th it was announced that news about the local area would be prioritised in the news feed as local news helps build communities both online and offline.

What does this mean for businesses?

This is a great opportunity for businesses with a local focus to create content about the local area. There is also testing being carried out in 6 US cities for a new function called ‘Today In’– it’s a great opportunity to start thinking about how you can create content which will benefit the local community to be ready when it rolls out.

We would guess that these won’t be the last significant changes to the platform this year, but the main takeaway is that it’s a great time to review and refresh your approach- just because you got great results in 2016 doesn’t mean you’ll continue to get them in 2018.