On January 12th, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced critical changes to the Facebook News Feed:
“But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. 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.” Mark Zuckerberg, 12 Jan 2018
A month on and we have seen a lot of jitters spreading across the world but it’s been really hard to practically measure the impact of Zuckerberg’s words, or indeed the impact of these actual changes themselves. It’s been even more difficult to make tangible business decisions from this statement.
The (technical) publishing rules may have changed slightly but not much has changed on the consumption side. People will still find and engage with worthwhile content irrespective of a platform’s algorithms. If you’re not getting the numbers that you think you should be getting then don’t be afraid to go off and try new formats, new approaches and new ways of engaging with your audience.
Reflecting on the world’s reaction to these changes, my advice for 2018 is that as publishers you might have to work a lot harder to be found but if you already have a loyal Facebook following then you shouldn’t be so aversely affected by the changes to their News Feed. The winners will be the producers who have been most successful at building real audience of people who follow them because of the value that they deliver rather than the hype they create.
The biggest lesson that we can learn from this experience is the importance of not becoming overly reliant on someone else’s platform! Personally I’m focusing a lot more effort on building more of a following of my own website, by publishing more content directly to there, rather than trying to spread myself too thinly over too many platforms owned by other people.
I would strongly encourage others to keep their primary focus on building out their own platforms and using social media channels to augment those efforts rather than looking on them as being the sole focus all efforts.
Brands too need to bring the focus back in-house. Make cool stuff that people want to engage with and bring your audience real value if you want then to fully engage with you. In software terms, active recurring customers, rather than user numbers, should be viewed as the holy grail metric. This is as true for media consumption and brand engagement as it is for app developers!
Give me a shout if you have any questions about anything I’ve written there. You can contact me directly here!