House of Cards: When Zuckerberg Pulls the Rug From Under You

A few weeks ago, Facebook changed their algorithm which is the code that determines what you do and doesn’t see when browsing the platform. Mark Zuckerberg wrote at the time; 

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

He goes on to mention “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being” as justification for the change, admitting that businesses are going to have to work harder than ever to gain their customers’ attention on the platform.

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Then the reports started appearing. Huge drops in organic traffic. Publishers have been especially hard hit. The company Little Things collapsed in a matter of days, shedding 100 jobs after its traffic numbers went off a cliff. As a business, it had grown with Facebook and became big because of it, but seemingly became over-reliant on one channel and didn’t diversify. The company was effectively renting their entire audience from Facebook and so when Facebook decided to move in a different direction, the outcome was never going to be pretty.

Kylie Jenner Tanks $1.3 Billion of Snapchat Parent's Market Value - Bloomberg 2018-03-01 10-56-32.png

Coincidentally last week, reality star Kylie Jenner declared Snapchat dead in a Tweet.

The stock price shed 6% that same day, the equivalent of $1.3bn. Now I don’t think that drop is entirely down to her comments, but it again underlines the loose foundations on which relationships with social media networks are built on. Live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm.

The Facebook changes are continuing to roll out and so brands and business may continue to see falling organic reach. It’s forecast that users will likely spend less time on the Facebook, though Zuckerberg hopes the time they do spend on the platform will be “time well spent.” So you’ll likely see more images of friends and family rather than organic brand posts.

So what does this mean for businesses?

Well Facebook has been a pay to play for a good few years now and though they offer levels of targeting that previously was either unheard of or would have cost $$$$$, you basically have to pony up the cash to hit your audience. It’s a useful time to take stock though and check to see where your audience reside. It’s unlikely any brand needs to be on all social networks. Most likely it is still worth your brand having a dedicated Facebook strategy even if that plan is purely organic as the benefits stretch into SEO and brand building, beyond the obvious benefits of reaching the Facebook audience directly.

It also serves as an important reminder that whilst social networks come and go, overreliance on one 3rd party channel or search engine for your audience via either paid or earned media can be both costly and risky. You pay more than once to reach the same people over and over again in some cases. Granted media such as email is still incredibly valuable with 91% of people checking their mail at least daily according to Salesforce.


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