Facebook has become as ubiquitous as gas stations, banner ads, and Starbucks. That makes adapting to the new Facebook algorithm a big deal. Here we’ll talk about its effect on influencer marketing. Plus, we’ll tell you why we think Facebook will die by 2020.
Recently, Facebook lost support due to mishandling of user data as with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. All eyes are on the social media giant to fix some fundamental issues within its platform.
In an effort to show only “trustworthy” posts and to encourage “meaningful” interactions, Facebook changed its algorithm. What this amounts to in real life may not be exactly what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind.
The negative effects for small businesses seem to be the greatest. But, what about influencer marketing?
Due to the influencer marketing approach involving transparency and camaraderie, influencers might be the key to hacking the Facebook update.
What can our resident marketing guru Chris Parbey, Jr. tell us about how social influence affects the “new” Facebook?
Moreover, does he think that the laundry list of recent Facebook scandals spells the end of the social media platform for good?
Facebook’s Previous Home for Viral Content
This isn’t the first time Facebook’s news feed algorithm was changed.
In 2013, the platform did something in a similar vein trying to show “high-quality articles” as opposed to content that was hosted somewhere other than on Facebook itself. Viral news sites like Upworthy were affected most.
You can expect similar casualties with the latest Facebook algorithm and Facebook update.
For example, if you do a Facebook search for “LittleThings“, you won’t see the same results as you would have in December of last year. Digital publisher LittleThings folded thanks to the Facebook algorithm change.
Despite its steady live video content releases and following of 12 million, it wasn’t enough. The new algorithm eliminated around 75% of LittleThings’ organic traffic. This, of course, affected its profit margins and ultimately caused its shut down.
But Facebook’s user base is still loyal, right?
How the Scandals Altered its User Base
Cory Doctorow chronicled more than a decade of Facebook’s fiascos and disasters.
Personal scandals with Zuckerberg such as his dispute with Hawaiian landowners didn’t help. Some even called him the “face of neocolonialism” before he dropped his lawsuit.
Still, this didn’t stop tons of influencers from leveraging the platform.
How Changes Affect Your News Feed
The critical Facebook algorithm update that took place last January changed what we see in our newsfeeds. In order to boost interpersonal engagement, Facebook now favors more personal content.
But the problem here, as Chris Parbey points out, is that people don’t always want to talk. It isn’t always “Hi! How are you?” when you go to Facebook. Sometimes you just want to share a video you like or a meme and see if others like it.
Other times, you may just want to share a link to a story you found particularly interesting. But you don’t always go to Facebook in order to connect with people. A Facebook search could just be for finding a restaurant or band page. It could even just be for videos.
“Right now, Facebook is promoting relationships and everything else is secondary.”
A Shift Back to Basics?
In a way, this contradicts the very purpose of Facebook’s foundations. Zuckerberg started it as a way to better connect with people. So are these changes just “getting back to basics” for this social network?
Facebook search has not really been altered in the Facebook update. Profiles stayed relatively the same; it was only the Facebook algorithm that really changed. Still, I would argue that this is NOT Facebook 101 because of the fact that live videos still exist.
While having a live streaming service isn’t inherently different from its main focus, it isn’t a function used to connect with friends and family normally.
If you want to engage in video content with people, why not just go to Instagram or YouTube? They both do most of what Facebook can with more volume and variety.
Chris offered some valuable insight into the Facebook algorithm changes.
You can’t prevent people from sharing information. If it is relevant to their family and friends, they are going to share it. With Facebook deterring this, the focus shifts solely to relationships. This could be a mistake. Sharing information is part of fostering relationships with people. Facebook might not realize the goal they are going for.
The Facebook search for its identity continues amid more scandals. So how do influencers circumvent these Facebook changes?
What can Influencers do to Hack This?
Influencers who pop up in Facebook search know a thing or two about reach. But now, getting your content in front of people with the new Facebook algorithm takes more effort than ever.
The new tricks to “hacking” the Facebook algorithm update lie in consistency. Chris suggested a scenario in which live videos played an integral role.
“Consistency is key and so is building anticipation. Everyday at 7, this influencer shows up and delivers. That means I might go to that person’s page or profile on my own just like we tune into the tv for our favorite program because we know when it comes on. This plays into the word of mouth strategy. Building a “cult” or loyal following requires consistency.”
But it wasn’t just about creating consistent content to grow an audience. Influencers also need to leverage tools like the “See First” option to override the Facebook algorithm. Of course, as people saw with Instagram, motivating users to do that is difficult.
But only Facebook pages have the “See First” option to leverage; individual accounts don’t have this. Another integral Facebook limitation to further alienate its influencer community.
Should Influencers Choose Facebook Over Instagram?
Spurring interaction between friends and family was the explanation for Facebook’s latest news feed changes. But, as Chris Parbey pointed out, you don’t always want to say “Hey, how are you?”
Sometimes you just want to engage with a piece of content you like and share it with friends. Sometimes you need to “lurk” on Facebook search for personal reasons.
This is the beauty of Instagram and other media based platforms such as Snapchat or YouTube. Even Tumblr offers media and engagement in a mode which Facebook seems to be trying so hard to aim towards.
So, that begs a few clarifying questions:
- Should influencers even care about Facebook at all?
- What is the incentive to choose Facebook over other social platforms moving forward?
- Will Facebook survive the social media wars?
This is where Facebook’s limitations come into play as compared to other platforms.
While Facebook is useful for live video engagement, it has a limit of 5000 friends for personal accounts.
If you have a fan page, the rules are different and people may not see your content. This is due to Facebook’s policy that personal accounts shouldn’t represent anything but yourself.
While you can enable the “follow” option on your Facebook profile, some think there is a limit there, as well. This means that, in order to grow your audience, you have to be more versatile and consistent than on other platforms.
You also have to maintain multiple pages for maximum reach and engagement. Instagram, however, allows for millions of followers and also features live streaming.
If influencers want to grow and reach the most people, Facebook is not the tool for them.
Final Verdict: Facebook Will die by 2020
This might seem like a harsh prediction, but Facebook started losing users in January. After the memepocalypse of “Zuckerberg goes to Washington”, who knows where it is now.
But that shouldn’t pose a huge issue for Zuckerberg or his other assets. After all, he also has WhatsApp and Instagram, so does he even need Facebook anymore?
A Facebook status isn’t a hug or a phone call just like a Facebook search isn’t the same as going on a blind date. This social network may be founded on connection, but lately, it has lost its way.
The Facebook update and new Facebook algorithm both mean a shift away from this new identity. For this and other reasons, influencers are swiftly abandoning Facebook.
Paired with video content being a rapidly growing trend, the future portends doom for the once-dominant platform.
Soon, Facebook will join sites like Bebo and MySpace in the social media graveyard. Like previous platforms, Facebook seems to have lost its voice and direction due to its size, something that other social media giants should learn from.