What Facebook’s algorithm announcement could mean for charities and small businesses

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced that posts from business pages (including charities) would begin to see less visibility in the Facebook newsfeed, favouring content from friends and family instead, particularly content that is more likely to stimulate conversation. So what does this mean for small businesses and charities, many of whom are only just getting to grips with the potential of social media, and don’t have much budget?

The announcement from Facebook in itself has triggered a lot of conversation, which is somewhat ironic. But irony aside, is it really time to panic?

It’s been trendy to diss Facebook for years now, particularly around its supposed declining audience size, and how young people are dropping it like it’s hot in favour of flower crowns and dog faces on Snapchat.

The truth is – Facebook users in the UK are growing, and they are projected to continue growing. However, Snapchat and Instagram are very close to Facebook in terms of engagement for under 25s, and may take over as the most engaged with platform. Does this mean that you should abandon Facebook and invest all your time on Snapchat? Probably not. Realistically, it’s still the most appropriate platform for sharing brand news: new products, sales, competitions etc., due to its more editorial nature.

The effect of this announcement remains to be seen. We may see increased CPMs and CPCs with more businesses competing over a smaller pool of inventory. We may see brands with bigger budgets move away from Facebook altogether to VOD, Spotify, and other platforms that can reach millennials, but whose costly CPMs put them out of reach of brands and charities with small budgets.

YouTube could be the winner here. With low advertising costs and extraordinary reach, brands and charities could try investing more effort into video content. (In 2016, YouTube on mobile reached more 18-34s than ITV or Channel 4). The debate we see in the media is often YouTube vs. TV – but many brands just don’t have the budget for TV, whereas you can get started with a YouTube campaign for under £100. Optimising for organic YouTube reach is still often overlooked even by bigger brands – this could begin to change.

Whichever platform is in question, just like we’re seeing in SEO and CRO trends, the key is engagement. If you’re creating dud content that people are tricked into viewing (Number 7 Will Blow Your Mind!), or worse, aren’t even interested enough to click further in the first place, you’re likely to suffer. Building strong brand advocates through great content and two-way conversation is exactly what social media was built for – and what Zuckerberg is trying to get back to.

Will your reach numbers start to decline? Probably. Zuckerberg himself has said that he expects to see a drop in the amount of time people spend on the network. But this is in exchange for more meaningful and positive experiences when they do visit. But just like any other aspect of marketing strategy, we shouldn’t be focused on big meaningless vanity numbers, we should be focused on truly having an impact, by reaching the right users, at the right time, with the right glass of prosecco (it’s an overused phrase, so I tweaked it).




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