With Facebook announcing changes to its News Feed ranking algorithm, along with a new ‘Clear History’ tool, digital marketers may soon have a harder time spreading their content on the platform. To adapt and flourish within the new system, it is essential to understand how the incentives have changed.
The new algorithm is designed to provide users with more relevant content in response to growing concerns over clickbait articles and fake news. The ‘Clear History’ feature – which was first announced by Mark Zuckerberg over a year ago on his personal Facebook page – is ostensibly meant to increase Facebook’s transparency, and provide users with more data privacy.
The new algorithm
Facebook recently conducted surveys that included questions about which links users found most relevant. The new algorithm will use this survey data alongside usage data to better curate the material that shows up in people’s News Feeds. The apparent goal is to show more meaningful content, while reducing fake news and clickbait, as well as repackaged or unoriginal content.
The content within a page or group will be given higher priority by the new algorithm if users have followed them for a long time, if they make frequent posts, and if their posts often attract engagement.
The surveys also collected data on who users consider to be their closest friends. The algorithm will use this data to determine which friends’ posts users are most likely to enjoy seeing in their News Feeds.
The ‘Clear History’ tool is an apparent attempt by Facebook to salvage its reputation in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The data analytics firm, which was involved with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, is alleged to have misused the data of up to 50 million Facebook users.
The new ‘Clear History’ feature doesn’t actually erase users’ browsing history, but simply makes the data anonymous. The feature will also allow users to see a list of the apps and websites they’ve visited that use Facebook’s business tools.
Since the data is not actually erased, Facebook says measurement and analytics reports won’t be affected by the tool. “We will still be able to provide accurate measurement to help businesses understand the impact of their Facebook investment, while honoring people’s choice to exercise control over their off-Facebook activity,” the company stated.
Ads will, of course, remain a primary source of revenue for Facebook. The company says they simply want to be more transparent by “showing people how advertisers use our business tools.”
The ‘Clear History’ feature will likely have some ramifications for advertisers, as cleared – or rather anonymized – data won’t be available for targeting purposes.
Successful marketing is still possible on Facebook
With 2.23 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the world’s most popular social media platform. Although we don’t yet know the extent to which Facebook’s new algorithm and ‘Clear History’ feature will affect digital marketers, the platform will undoubtedly remain a crucial platform for promoting content.
If marketers want their content to survive and thrive on Facebook – especially if targeting becomes weaker under the new rules – they will need to place a renewed focus on storytelling to make their content more likely to be shared.
Facebook has explicitly stated that their goal is to reduce unoriginal, inaccurate, and unduly sensationalist and provocative content. It therefore stands to reason that if a given piece of content is original, informative, and useful, it will now have an even better chance to spread organically and flourish throughout the platform.
In essence, Facebook is raising the bar for advertisers. We regard this as a welcome move from the platform, as it promises to accomplish three key objectives:
- Restoring trust in Facebook
- Improving the user experience by delivering higher-quality content to users
- Rewarding advertisers who invest in excellent, engaging content
To help your organization take full advantage of Facebook’s new marketing landscape, contact Lexicon today.
Lexicon is a full-service digital marketing agency in Bangkok, Thailand. We specialize in corporate storytelling and produce all of our content in-house, including branding, copywriting, video production and graphic design. We bring all of our services together and use Digital PR and social media marketing storytelling to connect our clients with the ideal target audience.