On June 29, Facebook announced that they are making yet another significant change to the algorithm that governs the News Feed, which is how the platform determines what content to serve each of its users.
Facebook rolls out updates like these pretty frequently, and every time the reaction from many publishers is one of abject terror. It’s somewhat understandable, as the algorithm in question is what brands and media outlets rely on to get their content seen by as many people as possible. That said, we’re not panicking, and we don’t think you should either.
As with all of the algorithm updates Facebook has rolled out in the past, this is on-the-whole a good thing. Facebook regularly surveys its users regarding what they like and don’t like to see when they use the platform. They take these responses and then check them against Facebook’s long-standing set of five core values: be bold, focus on impact, move fast, be open and build social value. The results are almost invariably the same; Facebook users want to see more content from their friends and family, and less from brands and publishers. Ultimately, the team at Facebook is continuously working to give users precisely what they want.
When these changes roll out from Facebook, quite a few publishers and “social media gurus” work tirelessly to recommend various ways to game the system, or to somehow slip their existing content past the seemingly omniscient algorithm. We think this is counter-productive, and beyond that ultimately doing a disservice to your audience.
The most effective approach publishers can take when considering the algorithm is to adjust their publishing goals to match the new standard. Not only will this lead to your content being served up to a wider segment of your audience, but more importantly it will be crafted so that the people seeing it will actually want to engage with it. By creating content that is informational, entertaining and “shareable,” your audience will do the heavy lifting for you by engaging with your posts and leading their Facebook Friends to do the same.
When all is said and done, your goal as a publisher should never be to fool anyone into thinking your content is something that it is not, be it the News Feed algorithm or your audience. Focus on doing what Facebook is doing – giving users precisely what they want – and your success will follow closely behind.