Hi, everyone. I’m Sian Leaker. I’m head of
Strategy and Planning here at RocketMill. Today I’m going to talk to you about a big
change that Facebook announced in January to the way it’s going to handle content and
its newsfeed. I’m going to talk today about what’s led up to that change, what it means
for us, also what it means for brands and what we need to do.
What does Facebook usage look like? So first, just to get a little bit of context
around the change, let’s think about the power of the platform, so how big is Facebook? Well,
it’s estimated there’s around 70 million businesses currently have company pages on Facebook,
and they’re actively pushing their content out to users. With that in mind, there’s 1.4
billion people that are actively using Facebook every day. You and me, we’re all on there
actively taking in this content from the businesses, and that’s a 14% increase year-on-year.
In terms of the type of content that we’re seeing on Facebook, there’s 300 million photo
uploads per day. There’s 4.75 billion pieces of content that’s shared daily. So, imagine
that amount of content that is going around through Facebook to those 1.4 billion people.
Now, despite all of this, Mark Zuckerberg has always said that Facebook is not a publisher,
and it’s true. They’re not publishing content from Facebook, but they’re a huge platform
in terms of pushing the content through. The challenges Facebook has encountered
Over the last two years, it has been a tricky time for Facebook and they really have been
taking quite a beating in the media. It started in May 2016, where Gizmo reported that trending
topics, which is the newsfeed, routinely suppressed Conservative news. It was having an impact
on what people were seeing and it was creating propaganda, if you like. The story, it says
there, sent Facebook scrambling and obviously got them to sit up and take notice.
In July 2016, Rupert Murdoch started telling Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook was wreaking
havoc on the news industry and he started saying that he wanted to get involved. Big
problems for Facebook were afoot. In August 2016, Facebook cut loose all its trending
topics journalists, these are the people that would decide on the content that would be
in the newsfeed and actively promote or exclude content from that newsfeed. They decided to
transfer that into its algorithm, so it was 100% based on the algorithm that was creating
what you’d see in your newsfeed. Then in December 2016, Facebook declared war
on fake news. It hired CNN alum Campbell Brown, and he was starting to really get into the
industry and understand what the problem was with fake news.
In October 2017, we started seeing news about Russian propaganda and this is where people
started seeing from what had happened with the presidential election in the US some of
the real problems that had happened via Facebook. In November 2017, this is when Facebook really
started getting a grilling, it says they got pummelled during congressional intelligence
committee hearings, but this is where really from a legal side Facebook started having
to answer in terms of what they were showing on the newsfeed.
Fake news Now two of the key problems that I’ve pulled
out to give you the context, the first one is around fake news. I think the latest estimate
is that there’s around 50 million fake sites on Facebook so that’s fake pages that are
delivering content to people that people have developed. That was obviously a big problem
with the presidential election widely reported. Russian propaganda
The other issue is around the Russian propaganda. What they were able to do with these fake
news sites is they were able to start understanding the algorithm within the Facebook newsfeed
and they’d start creating viral content through gamifying the actual algorithm and that’s
where this whole problem came through which Facebook obviously had to respond to.
Facebook’s response to these challenges So, what was Facebook’s response? Well in
January, January the 12th to be precise, Mark Zuckerberg posted, and it’s a really good
statement actually, if you read it on Facebook it gives you all of the information and I
definitely recommend a read of it so you’ve got the full context from their side.
Deprioritising content from brands He started saying exactly what changes we’re
going to do the newsfeed. I just put a summary of the changes here, so the key one is they’re
going to start deprioritising content from news sources, publishers and businesses. If
you’re one of those people that pushes content out there, your content will start to get
deprioritised within the newsfeed. It’s also going to change its algorithm and
it’s going to do this through monitoring how users are interacting and engaging with the
content. It’s already started happening. It started at the end of last year and that’s
going to carry on through 2018. Focus on community
There’s also going to be less public content and more community-based interactions. The
way that Mark Zuckerberg described it is that he’s told his product team that he’s asking
them to change from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have
more meaningful, social interactions. Really important change for brands. It means you’ve
really got to think about what you’re going to be publishing in terms of content.
Now that we’ve looked at what the change is that’s happened within Facebook, let’s see
what the publishers thought. What do publishers think of the changes?
You can imagine some of the reactions from the publishing community. I put there some
pieces of press in the US so: “Facebook is just screwing our news operations and our
democracy”. We got similar from The Guardian in our country as well, how it really focused
on it’s a problem for democracy and Facebook is influencing the way that we’re reading
the news, which is not okay. There were also some likes within the publishing
community as well. I thought this one was interesting from Buzzfeed. They said that
Facebook’s change was in line with how they want to develop content for their site and
from their point of view their content strategy has already always been about creating engaging
content for people to interact with so for them, it’s just on par with their strategy.
Financial Times as well, they also said it was a good move for the audience and the consumer
and they thought it was a really positive change. Personally, from my side, and I think
this is what a lot of marketers think is that it’s a really good change, it means that we’re
focusing more now on the audience and actually brands have got to think about really what
content people will want to see on Facebook in the newsfeed and not just push loads of
irrelevant content out there and expect people to want to interact with it.
What do brands need to do to adapt to the changes?
In terms of what it means for brands and what they need to do, there’s some really clear
areas that he’s highlighted within his statement and I’m going to just talk through some of
those. If you look through the statement, it’s really clear. It’s a little bit like
the Google changes that have happened over the last few years and anything that Google
changes through it algorithm, you can also see it within the Ts and Cs and the guidelines
in Google. If you look at this statement and in the background Facebook, you can probably
see from a content perspective what you need to focus on.
Some of the key areas, “video and other public content”, that’s a plus. He wants
us to “help us connect with each other”. He wants less “public content”, “encourage
meaningful interactions” and “live videos”. There’s some of the things in his statement
that you can really pull out and they can really give you a guide as to how we need
to change, how we develop the content. In terms of the impact on your content, and
these are the things that brands need to really consider, if you drive traffic to your website
from Facebook, it’s a key traffic driver, that might deprioritise and decrease the traffic
over 2018 and throughout so you need to start thinking about how much traffic is being delivered
from Facebook. If you post content that people don’t react
to or engage with, that is also going to be deprioritised so if people are passive to
your content you need to sit up and take notice and start making some changes.
If you post low quality content, always something we advise on in RocketMill, which is that
you’ve got to deliver high quality content whatever the platform and it’s the same principle
for Facebook. Also, content that focuses on engagement base, “click here” and “like
now”, things like that, it’s not going to be taken in into account in the new newsfeed.
Review your content strategy What you need to do, you need to review your
content strategy. One thing that has happened within the industry is some publishers have
become alarmed by the change and they’ve thought that they need to take all content
off Facebook newsfeed. That is not the case, you just need to revise your strategy and
think: “Right, how much traffic is driving to my website and actually what sort of content
do I really need to put on to the platform?” You need to focus on high quality and authentic
content, authentic being an important word there. If it’s not authentic then Facebook
will start seeing from the way that they’re testing with users and it will start getting
deprioritized and demoted. Create engaging content
You also need to create content that encourages engagement interaction, so if people are being
passive to your content, like I said before, it’s not working, and Facebook is going to
deprioritise it. You need to start eliciting conversation, get people emotionally connected
to your content and creating a conversation. Community management
You also need to, tied onto that, set up the right level of community management so all
too often I see brands and they start posting content, it’s great content and actually people
really get connected to that content and they start having conversations, but the brand
doesn’t ever get involved after that point and it’s not managing the community that it’s
then created. Make sure that you’ve allocated enough time to set up that community management.
Facebook tools you should consider Just two key areas that I think, just as my
last takeaways, there are two key tools within Facebook that I think they’re going to really
prioritise over the next year and these are the ones you should consider for your content
strategy. Facebook Live
One of them is Facebook Live, so it’s going to really put an emphasis on the fact that
you can do Facebook Live videos, you should just have that as part of your strategy ongoing.
Chat box The other area is chat box so obviously this
is something that has really got traction in the industry over the last year but it’s
something that you should start working and seeing whether that’s should be part of your
content strategy as well. That’s it, Thank you.