Facebook is changing its News Feed to focus more on family and friends

headerYesterday, Facebook announced new information about how their News Feed prioritizes content, and an upcoming News Feed ranking algorithm update. This is a significant update that is important for anyone who uses Facebook as a means to get their brand or content to their audience.

Primarily, the new update is in line with previous changes, prioritizing content from the users friends and family. This time, this increased reach comes at the expense of not just brand pages, but publisher pages as well.

As Facebook puts it, they ‘We don’t favor specific kinds of sources’. Instead, the impetus for the change is actual user data on how they interact with various types of content from the various sources. Ultimately, it is in Facebook’s interest to keep users engaged, whatever that content might be. And so that’s what they did.

So how would that affect your Facebook page? Well, if you’re a publisher, you can expect a ‘small but noticeable‘ fall in your reach. This is alarming to many publishers, as according to a Parse.ly, Facebook is now the top referrer of traffic for sites in their network. So even a small drop might be quite significant.

Not even Facebook’s Instant Articles was spared. Launched to much hype last year, it gave users a faster, smoother reading experience for users. While they did not address this specifically, we expect the greater engagement on Instant Articles to make up for the reduced priority. So it could still be worth your while to go down that route.

For brands, if your posts are mainly based on promotional content or contests, you may want to reconsider your content strategy. Reach for this kind of posts have been on the decline since 2014 and looks set to get worse.

The good news is that if your content is already engaging, you should not be too affected. Facebook has tools for users like ‘See these stories first’ too, so if you consistently put out great content your fans would still get to see what you put out there.

At the end of the day, Facebook’s change signals the need to provide content for and to focus on fewer, but higher quality fans. Instead of having 100,000 people see your content, it may be a better idea to get a better conversion rate from fewer of them.