16th January 2018

Brands vs Facebook: The 21st Century Arms Race

Facebook.

The ever changing social network that I’m not entirely convinced even knows what it wants.

Chief Exec Mark Zuckerberg has announced changes to the Facebook news feed that will have ramifications for brands, businesses and media.

In changes that will take effect in the coming weeks, organisations will see the results of their content decrease, in favour of content that sparks conversations among family and friends who use the site.

This move is essentially seeing Facebook go back to its 2004 roots, where it was born as a group for students of Harvard University, making the news feed more about friends’ thoughts and creations, rather than what they are sharing.

Gone are the days of meaningless engagement mechanics, tag a friend who loves dogs and like if you love this video of a cat eating a banana – now is the time for brands and publishers to put an emphasis on meaningful engagement.

Using “engagement-bait” to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and in the blog post, Facebook emphasised plans to continue to demote such posts in News Feed.

Facebook will now prioritise posts that generate relevant conversations between people, which is actually a real opportunity for brands.

In adhering to the new algorithm changes, brands will have no choice but to create meaningful content that connects on a personal level, generating real engagement, which is much more valuable than likes on a meme, for example.

Brands who continue to play to Facebook’s strong mechanics, such as tap and hold and Facebook Live, will see engagement levels continue to soar, as Facebook is happy that such mechanics generate meaningful conversation. In its blog post, Facebook insists live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.

Tangerine engaged the Iceland audience with a blind date on Facebook Live to promote the retailer’s Valentine’s Day campaign

Zuckerberg conceded that users are also now much less likely to spend a considerate amount of time browsing the platform, which means brands need to ensure that attention is captured early within content, especially video, now more than ever.

The question is, have Facebook users come to expect the channel to be a source of funny and engaging video, memes and the like, rather than a place to connect with friends?

Being honest, I’m not really buying into Mr Zuckerberg’s claims. The mogul knows that brands and publishers have outsmarted his algorithms, so these changes are being implemented to claw back control, using the smokescreen of Facebook going ‘back to its roots’ to ensure the pockets of Facebook, who aren’t really short of a few quid, are lined for the considerable future.

How long it takes for brands to crack the new algorithm code remains to be seen, and let’s face it, is this really what Facebook will be preaching in a year’s time?

By Nathan Youd, Junior Planner