Facebook News Feed Changes For Businesses

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I chat with Michael Yorba on iHEARTRadio's CEOMoney about recent changes to the Facebook news feed. Transcript below:


Well, the main thing I wanna talk about is announcement of Facebook just made about really tightening up the spigot on corporate and branded public content in people's news feeds. And if I had five hours to talk about that, we could talk about it, so we'll talk until you tell me to shut up.

 

So Facebook came out about a week ago and announced that they were going to start tapering off content from companies and brands within the personal news feeds on Facebook. And this isn't the first time they've done something like this. They did this back in 2016 and dramatically reduced the amount of content that we saw as individuals from companies that we told Facebook that we liked. And it caused a lot of pain for businesses that focus on organic content in Facebook, because you had a situation where a company spent years in some cases, building up a loyal following of fans, of people that went and actively clicked on a link on Facebook and said, "I like this company. I like this fan page. I would like to see their stuff." And Facebook took it on themselves to say, "Well, you know what? You're gonna see less of it." And they tightened the news and tightened the news and kept on doing it to, we got to a point where on average, everything else being equal, if you're a company on Facebook and you have 100,000 people following your fan page, when you post something on your fan page, you expect those folks that said, "I wanna see your stuff, you expect them to see it. Well, today, even before this announcement that Facebook made just last week, we have gotten to a point to our less than 3% of the people that follow you on Facebook will see your content today.

 

Why would they do that? 

 

They need money. They want money. It's partially because of that. It's also partially because Facebook has enough artificial intelligence in the background to know what we like and what we respond to and what we don't like. So, Facebook has taken it upon themselves to basically say, "We know what you want better than you know what you want." And so, based upon how your friends and families behave on Facebook, we're gonna make some assumptions that because that's your sphere of friendship and your connections, that you're probably gonna behave the same way. So based upon what those folks that you follow that you're connected with do, we're going to start tailoring the news feeds, so that we present you with content that we think you wanna see. And to be fair to Facebook, this makes a guy like me working for different companies when my job is to help them get access to people that have said they wanna have access to this company, it makes my job a lot more difficult. But it's Facebook's platform, and so there's an old saying that, "If you're a pig, you're not the customer, you're the product." And so, when you're out there and you're taking all these free stuff from Facebook, and you're using their platform, you're paying zero for it, that means that they get to do whatever they want to, and if you don't like it, you can take a hike.

 

And that's whether you're a business or whether you're a user. So Facebook has... And this is to be... This is also partially in response to all the hoo-ha that's been kicked up over this last election. Facebook is trying to make sure that they do enough, so that users are using their platform in a way that everybody is not attacking them for the role they play in society. That's a lot to take on, but that's part of the mission. So basically, what they've come back and said, "You are now gonna see... " And they don't phrase it by saying, "You're gonna see less branded content in your feeds." What they say is, "We're gonna show you more content from your friends and your family." The challenge they have with that is number one, friends and family, they provide the audience for us to consume content from brands that they wanna pay for, but it's kind of a catch 22 that if they're showing less of that to us, then it's gonna be harder for us as businesses to get access to those audiences. So, how do we do that? The biggest thing you have to realize now is that more than ever, Facebook now is more difficult to use to get access to potential consumers or to the audience we get access to that even Google is now.

 

Because at least with Google, if you do what you need to do from an organic or an editorial standpoint when you put content out, you have a fighting chance, it's a fairly level playing field. That if you do a better job than even the 900-pound gorilla you know that's in your industry, you have a good chance of ranking well in the search engines, in all the search engines. Facebook is actively pushing that content now. So it's not only that you have to fight against big brands that may have bigger budgets than you to apply to this stuff, Facebook is putting its thumb on the scale now to prevent you from getting access to the folks and forcing you to pay. So rule number one is if you wanna play on Facebook now, you're gonna have to pay. You're gonna have to buy ads, you're gonna have to have an active strategy that not only targets the right people, but you're gonna have to pay for the access to those folks, number one. From an organic standpoint, there's still a little bit of life left in that for you for a business.

 

But you're gonna have to start producing video content. You've got to think in terms of why Facebook does what it does and they're looking for ways to keep eyeballs on the page. They want people to stay on Facebook because they're selling ads. And so, they want people to see the ads around the content. The other thing they wanna do, which is a long-term [06:19] ____ strategy with them, they wanna destroy YouTube. One of Facebook's main goals is to become YouTube. So, from a branded standpoint, you need to start looking at how you're going to produce a video content that speaks well to your brand, that lifts your brand up. You can't have a bunch of silly-looking amateurs video out there 'cause it hurts your brand overall. But you've got to find a way to play the YouTube game on Facebook, if Facebook organic content is important to you. So, that's number one. Facebook will always give preference to a video content over the other ones.

 

Number two, you're going to have to play the game of influence or marketing. So, if I have a company and I put my content on Facebook, and I know that people aren't gonna see my content, how do I get it? I get people that are individuals, personalities that will share my content without linking back to my page, and this is a game you've gotta play now because [chuckle] now this creates all this complexity in your relationship with Facebook. Now, you've got a situation where your goal, as a business, is no longer to get someone to go to your fan page. Your business page, that number of followers means nothing now because, in the past, if I had 100,000 followers, that meant on some level that I have 100,000 subscribers like an email list. That number means nothing now because it doesn't gain you anything when it comes to that content.

 

So now, you've got to go and play a game where you are now trying to get people to link to content that pulls them away from Facebook so that you can own that relationship again. So, I don't think that... Certainly, people who work at Facebook are smarter than guys like me, but when you look at it on the surface, they're shooting themselves in the foot because now I am motivated to pull people off the platform. I don't want people on Facebook anymore because it harms me and my business.

 

So now, and this is one thing I preach forever, you always need to own your marketing. When you put all your eggs in Facebook, when you put all your eggs on Twitter, on Instagram, on YouTube, I know that these companies sound huge and in fact they're gonna be here forever, talk to somebody who invested in copy server AOL. So, you need to be in a position where you own your content, your content resides on your own domains and you pull people to your corporate websites that you own versus relying so much on places like Facebook.