Facebook’s latest tweak to the News Feed algorithm is another hit to brand marketers.
In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg described the move by slamming the "passive experience" seen when users are inundated with more branded content than updates from friends and family. By "crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other," Zuckerberg argued that the News Feed balance has tipped in the wrong direction, running counter to Facebook’s corporate ethos of fostering well-being and more meaningful connectivity.
With the social media behemoth focusing on increasing meaningful social interactions through friend and family connections, brands and marketers are facing even more of an uphill battle to stay relevant and to reach audiences organically.
In its early days, Facebook was student-only, a network for college kids to connect and share their lives with one another. It has evolved into a juggernaut of lifestyle brands and media outlets competing for screen space. It seems that Zuckerberg is taking it back the good ol’ days where personal connections reigned supreme, and users didn’t have to scroll the mountains of corporate content before arriving at their best friend’s new baby photos.
While Zuckerberg issued a warning that time spent on and user engagement with Facebook could see a marked decrease, there are some immediate strategies that companies and brands should use to ensure their messages reach their audiences.
But there’s a catch: you need to ramp up your executive communication program.
Rebrand your c-suite’s personal Facebook profiles
We all like to keep our Facebook profiles separate from work, but for the c-suite, there needs to be new rules. Consider rebranding your c-suite’s personal Facebook pages with a company headshot, branded cover photo, and thought-leadership content. If there’s any pushback, then it’s entirely possible to create new profiles without deleting their personal ones. Just be sure to create some sort of delineation between the two, like having "John Doe" and "John Doe - Company Name" accounts.
Master the short-form corporate ‘humble brag’
You see this on LinkedIn all the time: a CEO or CMO shares a story about how they risked it all on some person or strategy. They tie it back into how this has affected them personally, and, ultimately, how it catalyzed some sort of monumental shift in their company’s culture or bottom line. It’s time to deploy that same "humble brag" strategy from the Facebook accounts of the c-suite.
Engage in two-way communication from personal accounts
This one may seem like the most obvious, but it is often the most laborious; therefore, the most ignored. Encourage the c-suite to surrender controls of their personal accounts so you can actively pursue and foster new relationships. If done right, a steady stream of thoughtful "likes," comments, and shares could do wonders for your company.
Take your online presence offline, then back again
As the new Facebook algorithm eats away at your audience, think about how you can activate personal online connections. This may mean that your c-suite should join a Facebook Group that is relevant to the company or industry, and host a meetup or other networking event. Take photos at the event and live-stream it for all to see. The next day, share your takeaways and solicit feedback about what made it so great (or not so great), then plan the next one.
Even though Facebook won’t be rolling out its new algorithm immediately, it’s best to get ahead of it and start planning now. As for Facebook’s Instagram algorithm, it’s only a matter of time before they do the same.