As you’ve probably heard by now, Facebook is planning big changes to the algorithms that dictate the look of users’ News Feeds. Or maybe you haven’t. If you’re not in the business of posting and tracking advertisements (as we are at Patio), it might not have registered at all in your on-line sphere of news and information. Because it’s not really “of interest” to you.
And that in a nutshell is what’s happening. The “news” in your News Feed is going away (not entirely, but significantly) in favour of more personally engaging posts from friends and family and brands you choose to actually pay attention to. This is all a part of Facebook’s attempt to get out from under the fake-news, censorship-no-anti-censorship, alleged-election-tampering rubble that’s been piling up on the company, especially in the last year.
Actual news outlets will be hit hardest, but the fall-out will have an impact on marketers, for sure. And the alarm has swung wildly across the advertising world, rating the change from “bad news” to “apocalyptic.” But should we go running to our bunkers just yet?
Previously, it was the interaction between brands and Facebook that determined how high up and often ads appeared in user’s News Feeds. And that interaction mostly involved dollars. In the new Facebook, the relationships between brands and their audience are the gears that will move an ad up in a News Feed, thereby increasing the likelihood of it being seen. In order to boost an ad’s power, a brand will need to find ways to engage its audience so that posts fall into the “personal interest” category, along the lines of those pictures of absent nieces and nephews.
That is, users will need to care, and show it through likes, comments and shares. Those posts that you scroll by mindlessly on the bus are the ones that Facebook wants to keep from you, so that you won’t have a mindless experience on their site, but a more “meaningful”one. Therefore, it will be up to advertisers to find ways to engage their audience in more ways than just click-throughs.
Content will need quality, it will need to illicit emotion so that users will relate to it, align their sense of self with it. It will need to be relevant, so brands will have to think a little less about pushing their point-of-view, and more about what their audience cares about. It will mean employing a little bit of psychology, maybe, but more importantly, a whole lot of listening, and adapting.
We say, bring it on.
At Patio, we’ve been adapting not only to Facebook’s ever changing platform, but to the entire landscape of social media dynamics, for years. And we’ve done so with an emphasis on story-telling and consumer engagement through unique angles carefully crafted for each of our specific brands and their target audience. We’re excited to continue to explore new ways to bridge the gap between the brands we work with and their audience. And do it in a way that’s valuable and, to borrow Facebook’s term, meaningful for all involved.
So no, the world’s not ending. Just lifeless ads and lazy marketing. We’re okay with that, and you should be too.