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What Facebook’s New Algorithm Really Means for Your Firm

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Facebook created a tizzy among social media marketers when the platform’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced big changes to the way content would be prioritized in news feeds. As part of a major push to improve the network’s quality and reputation, Facebook is “rebalancing” the articles, videos and advertisements that users see.

Advertisements and content published by businesses, which have both been very prominent in the past, will be ranked lower than they previously were and therefore appear less frequently. In their place users will see more posts from friends and family, as well as from Facebook groups. That’s the general idea, anyway, and it’s one that shook marketers to the core – for obvious reasons.

Despite the reasonable fears this new approach inspires, don’t look at the change as a death knell for your hopes of marketing through the site. Instead, treat is as the invitation it is: this is a perfect opportunity to create more engaging content.

The key ranking factor in Facebook’s updated algorithm is engagement; the prime metric for engagement is now comments, and longer comments in particular. The company’s VP, Adam Mosseri, shared one main driver for the change this way: “We think that we’re currently slightly overvaluing how much time people spend on our platform and undervaluing how many meaningful interactions they have with other people.”

Recognizing and valuing “meaningful interactions” is the reason you’ll see fewer advertisements and less content from brands, since relatively few users actively engage with it. What you will see are posts that your Facebook connections are commenting on, live videos they’re watching and group posts they’re participating in.

It’s important to understand that likes, shares and time spent on pages no longer matter as much for content ranking. They’re not devoid of value by any means, but they’re not the be-all and end-all they once were. Comments are now the goal, and if your content generates significant discussion, it will appear far and wide.

So does that mean you should return to the old “share your thoughts in the comments!” technique? Definitely not. That approach was iffy even when it was new, and it’s most certainly not a good choice years later – in part, because Facebook will deprioritize content that specifically requests comments or other engagement activity. (Also because it’s tacky and rarely effective.)

The way to have your firm’s content spread widely on Facebook is to create posts that inspire genuine conversation. Start with well-crafted headlines and compelling images to ensure those who do see it decide to click on it. From there, it’s all about what you’re saying. Is it powerful, informative or thought-provoking enough to make people want to respond to your post?

If the answer is yes, you’ve got content that their friends will also see and comment on, meaning that it will appear in yet more expanding circles of users. This content will go far. And if the answer is no, then you probably don’t need to be sharing it anyway.

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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their individual audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on dozens of firm websites and in Accounting Today, Social Media Today, various professional journals and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!

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