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Does Facebook Zero Scare You? Here Is What Will Keep Your 2018 Content Marketing Relevant

24

JANUARY 2018

Facebook has always prided itself on “making the world more open and connected,” and in 2018 it announced that big changes were coming to the platform to make newsfeeds reflect their mantra. The new Facebook Zero initiative is set to change the algorithm of the newsfeed as we know it to prioritize content that provides meaningful interactions amongst communities and users and minimize public content. While this sounds like a noble mission, it’s left many content marketers scratching their heads and wondering: is this the end of social media marketing as we know it? And more importantly, what will all this mean for our  content marketing in 2018? Will strategies change? Will the world of content sharing evolve and change beyond recognition?

Why Should You Care?

This decision to alter the newsfeed algorithm is the latest move for the social media mega-platform to reckon with its increasingly important role in moderating discussion online. Any changes to the newsfeed are significant, as the newsfeed effectively operates as an entranceway for Facebook’s 2 billion users.

For content creators, however, these changes are even more significant, as these algorithm changes may have a big impact on content marketing campaigns for 2018 and the way content is distributed. Facebook is a major tool for a vast majority of content marketers. Any changes that are made to the way Facebook operates will lead many to have to rethink their strategies for 2018. What do these Facebook zero changes mean for content distribution? Which content will get more traction with the new model? And how will paid advertisements be impacted by the new strategy?

Iris has the answers to all these questions and more, as content marketing adapts to the new guidelines. Although it can be daunting to change your strategies, content marketing has always been about adaptation and flexibility. You just need to learn the new ropes of the Facebook Zero Changes.

Photograph by  Xilius via Bigstock

What Exactly Is Facebook Zero?

So what exactly is Facebook Zero, and how is it going to impact content marketing? In a post released to Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerburg outlined the planned changes for his newsfeed by saying  “as we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people”.

What Will Change?

For content creators who rely on public posts to generate organic traffic, this algorithm may seem nothing short of an impending apocalypse. Facebook Zero promises to show users less content from professional pages and videos online, and more content from friends, groups, and communities. While you can still post content from a professional page, it may no longer be ranked as high as it used to, and therefore might not reach as many people.  This means that carrying out the same content marketing techniques under the new system will give you a smaller chance of appearing on the newsfeed of your target audience.

In addition to prioritizing content that is shared by community ties, the Facebook Zero changes are also prioritizing content that inspires active engagement. It’s no secret that a lot of people’s eyes tend to glaze over when scrolling through social media for too long. Facebook Zero is hoping to change this by prioritizing content that sparks engagement and interaction among users.

“You may have an interesting and engaging piece of content, but unless people are actively involved with it, it may not appear on people’s private newsfeeds.”

What Do These Changes Mean For Your 2018 Content Marketing Efforts?

While Facebook still values page content as an important part of their ranking system, the newsfeed is going to shift its focus from ranking content directly, to content that is shared and talked about amongst personal Facebook friends. In other words, you may have an interesting and engaging piece of content, but unless people are actively involved with it, it may not appear on people’s private newsfeeds.

The other thing to know about the change is that Facebook is also aiming to have users spend less time on the site. This may seem counterintuitive as a business strategy, but their basic aim here is to encourage people to spend less time on the site, but spend it more valuably. In theory, users will spend their time on Facebook talking to their community and sharing relevant information, instead of scrolling endlessly through ‘less valuable’ information. Unfortunately, as Facebook facilitates this shift, content marketers can probably expect their organic reach to drop as a result of decreased usership.

The other big change in the Facebook newsfeed will be towards video content. In an interview with Wired, Facebook Vice President Adam Mosseri shared how he felt that video content was a “more passive” form of online content and that users tend to become less engaged as a result. Although he did acknowledge that videos were an important part of the platform, the new changes will phase them out of the newsfeed. This will mark a real pivot away from the explosion of videos that have taken over the platform since 2016, and have become a cornerstone of many content marketing campaigns.

What Content Will Get More Distribution?

With an emphasis on community, posts that don’t encourage meaningful interaction will appear less on the new Facebook feed. This is going to be reflected in four big ways that content creators are going to have to keep in mind as they envision their distribution methods for the coming year.

  1. Group Content: Content that stems from a group or community following is going to be given higher rankings on the newsfeed as Facebook considers these primary methods for interaction amongst users. Facebook communities are becoming increasingly vibrant places, with some playing host to millions of followers. Groups on Facebook spring up around hobbies, lifestyles, and all varieties of community, and it’s likely that you’re already a part of some. These may be key groups to tap into when considering the new changes.
  2. High Comment Numbers: Comments are now going to be more valuable then likes in a Facebook post, because the Facebook Zero changes. Mosseri indicated that a higher volume of commentary would indicate that users are more engaged with the content because it takes longer to type out a comment instead of simply hitting a like button. Remember what we learned about Facebook’s attempt to move away from passive usership? The prioritization of comments instead of likes is a perfect example of this. Users will have to type out a comment instead of simply view it.
  3. Lengthy Comments: It isn’t just the amount of comments that will have an impact on a post’s performance. Mossari mentioned in an interview with Wired that Facebook would also be “weighing long comments more than short comments.” The principle behind this change will be that when users decide that a post merits a longer and more thoughtful reply, the feed should reflect this and boost it appropriately.
  4. High Shares: The changes on Facebook are also going to favor posts with a high share rate, which may finally come as some relief to content creators. Having your audience share posts is already an accepted and valuable tool for distribution, and it may become more so as these changes are implemented.

How Will Facebook Zero Changes Affect Facebook Ads?

When Wired asked Mosseri about the effect that these updates would have on advertisers on Facebook, he replied by saying that “Ads are a separate system. So in terms of this ranking change, it doesn’t apply”. That may sound reassuring to content creators, but the reality may not reflect this. The truth is, we may not really know how Facebook ads are affected on Facebook until the changes actually take place. We can, however, take away a few key points about the way paid ads will differ.

First, it seems that the way that ads are currently delivered to newsfeeds will remain relatively unchanged. Secondly, since people will spend less time on Facebook, there should be fewer eyes on screens at any given time, which will likely cause advertising space to be less in-demand. This will cause the price of ads on Facebook to rise. The third thing that we can predict will be that in order to combat the loss in organic reach, advertisers with the financial means to do so will direct money away from organic reach, and move it toward paid reach. Unfortunately, this too will mean that Facebook ads will rise in cost.

What Is the Takeaway in All This?

At the end of the day, Facebook has been modifying its algorithms since the day it was founded, and content marketing is an industry based on this fluidity. Although some content creators may be disheartened by the change in algorithm, there’s no reason that content campaigns in 2018 cannot be adjusted to accommodate the new Facebook priorities. The main takeaways to remember are these:

  • Prioritize meaningful content that your users can really interact with
  • Engage in community groups and form your own
  • Either minimize video production or maximize educational content in videos
  • Keep an eye out for rising advertising costs do some prioritizing yourself

At the end of the day, any platform that holds 2 billion users will be a source of readership and revenue. Remember that there are practical and active ways that you can adapt to the change to retain your current output of content and following. Collaborate with your own community to promote each other’s content, and remind your loyal followers to ‘see first’ all of your content. There are many ways that you can make Facebook Zero work for your marketing campaign.

Iris Content can also be a valuable resource in navigating these new changes. Contact our team today for ways to thrive in Facebook Zero.

 

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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