Creating Content for the New Facebook News Feed

Is your audience actually reading the content you post on Facebook? A like, click, or share isn’t necessarily a good indicator, and Facebook’s new News Feed algorithm is taking that into account.

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Facebook, the Publishing Platform

On April 21st, Facebook announced it will be making new changes to its News Feed. The announcement follows the heels of the Facebook Instant Articles announcement, which was made available to all publishers earlier this month. Both of these moves indicate Facebook’s push towards becoming a full-fledged publishing platform and less of a social media platform.

In an era of content overload and clickbait, this is a good thing; it’s exactly what Facebook’s changes to its News Feed are working to combat. Instead of relying only on how many likes, clicks, or shares a facebook post gets (re: clickbait), Facebook has realized that even if someone does not like a post or share it, they might still spend a noteworthy amount of time reading it, as Moshe Blank, Software Engineer, and Jie Xu, Research Scientist, revealed in the Facebook newsroom announcement:

“We’re learning that the time people choose to spend reading or watching content they clicked on from News Feed is an important signal that the story was interesting to them. We are adding another factor to News Feed ranking so that we will now predict how long you spend looking at an article in the Facebook mobile browser or an Instant Article after you have clicked through from News Feed.”

The End of the Clickbait Era?

These changes (which have already gone live) are good news for B2B marketers. At the same time, the pressure is on to write compelling content that users want to read. Facebook’s new changes also put the pressure on to honestly communicate what will be contained in an article – how many times have you clicked on an article that promises to reveal enticing or helpful information only to discover it bogged down with ads, popups, or an article not relating to the original title at all?

Facebook is going to account for this by monitoring how many people click through to an article only to immediately return to News Feed after discovering it was not the content they had expected. Based on the data gathered from which stories readers like best, Facebook will alter News Feeds to show stories that are cultivated to appeal to readers’ tastes.

A Response to Content Overload

Along with these changes, Facebook stated it will also “be making an update to reduce how often people see several posts in a row from the same source in their News Feed.” Facebook is clearly taking steps to de-clutter and de-spam its News Feed, something it needs to do if it wants to be a successful publishing platform.

Marketers need to realize that more is not better when it comes to sharing content on Facebook – if they do, their content will suffer.

New Best Practices for News Feed

Due to these changes, new best practices will emerge that marketers should adhere to when creating content for and posting content on Facebook. Here are some things to keep in mind:

     1.   Create content that has something to say                                                                       

Just because Facebook is trying to minimize clickbait doesn’t mean you should be writing lengthy posts. Your content needs to thoughtfully engage a reader in the most economic way possible.

     2.  Make sure your headline is consistent with your content                                         

Don’t mislead your audience.

     3.  Adhere to a less-is-more publishing schedule

Posting 1 or 2 times per day might be the sweet spot to making sure your audience is engaged but not overwhelmed.

How Do Boosted Posts Fit in with Facebook’s New Algorithm?

As a result of Facebook’s gradual shift to publishing, the lines between copywriting, publishing, and marketing have blurred even further. What will remain to be seen is how this new algorithm affects boosted (paid) Facebook posts in users’ News Feeds.

Boosted posts push your post closer to the top of your audience’s News Feed. Currently, Facebook rewards purchases by bumping up organic posts following a boosted post to the top of users’ feeds – but then they denigrate your organic posts if a boosted post has not been recently purchased. Most likely, boosted posts will remain an integral part to a successful Facebook publishing strategy because if your audience is not even seeing your posts, they can’t read them. More boosted posts = more likelihood of a user seeing and reading your content.

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