Why top social media experts say Facebook’s News Feed change is no big deal

For nearly three days after Facebook announced perhaps its biggest change ever to its News Feed, I was glued to my social media feeds like a Wall Street broker watching the stock ticker. The responses I saw there fell into two consistent groups: page owners and publishers (PANIC!) and trusted social media experts/influencers/consultants (Stay Calm and Keep on Posting!).

Why are the experts not panicking? More on that below, but first let’s cover the broad picture of what the change is.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced on January 11 that he was ordering a major change in “how we build Facebook.” Instead of focusing on surfacing “relevant content” for users, Facebook will now focus on “helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed for Facebook, explained that this means promoting posts that are more likely to create real conversations between real people.

Both Zuckerberg and Mosseri stated that one result of this change to the Facebook News Feed algorithm would be users seeing “less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.” Why? Not because Facebook was now devaluing those sources per se, but because the vast majority of content from those sources creates very little “meaningful interaction” by users, the new holy grail of Facebook reach.

It’s easy to see why page owners (particularly “businesses, brands and media”) went into panic mode. It sounded like what little organic reach they still had to their fans was now going to become near zero.

So why are so many social media experts so calm about the announcement?

What the social experts are saying

Let’s take a look at what some of the social media marketing experts had to say about Facebook’s announced changes.

Mark Schaefer — “Don’t panic: The Facebook announcement is no big deal”

Jay Baer — “9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze

Pam Moore — “Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Changes 2018: What You Need to Know and Why You Should Ignore Fear Mongers”

Jon Loomer — “Facebook Marketers Are Already Fumbling News Feed Change

The common message

Are you hearing some common themes in what these experienced social media marketing advisers are saying? Here’s what I hear:

  1. The Facebook algorithm change is not that big a change. Facebook has been working hard for a long time now to improve the News Feed experience for its users. Content and social media marketers shocked by this simply weren’t paying attention.
  2. Facebook is doing you a favor. The kinds of content this change will drive out of users’ News Feeds had little to no value to begin with, and not just to Facebook and its users. Content trying to game engagement or get attention simply to chase after an ever-dwindling piece of organic reach rarely had any connection to a business’s real goals — the reasons it was on Facebook in the first place: to create fans who would want to become customers.
  3. There are still opportunities to win organically on Facebook, but they will be harder to attain. But then, the best and most effective marketing always comes at the cost of real effort and creativity.
  4. Now more than ever, you must embrace the paid advertising side of Facebook. Don’t waste energy in anger at Facebook over their alleged plot to force you to spend more on paid promotion. The targeting and reach of Facebook advertising is a tremendous opportunity. Smart marketers will spend more time there and less on agonizing over organic reach.
  5. Diversify your marketing. If you were overly dependent on free reach to Facebook fans, you were dangerously out of balance way before this change. Seek out and develop all the useful channels for building and maintaining an audience, including email, SEO, PPC, video, podcasting and so on.

The most important message is this: Crying over what once was (or maybe what you imagined once was) is the most non-productive thing you can do. It won’t add a single customer to your business.

Never get dependent on anything “free” that is owned by someone else. Sure, make use of it while you can, and develop whatever opportunities it affords, but always treat it like it might disappear tomorrow — because sometimes it does.

About The Author

Mark Traphagen
Mark Traphagen is Senior Director of Brand Evangelism for Stone Temple Consulting. His primary responsibility is building the online reputation of Stone Temple while testing strategies and tactics that will benefit STC clients. Mark writes for numerous top industry publications, and is a regular speaker at various SMX events and other national marketing conferences.