On Oct. 18, Facebook began the roll out of the Explore feed. It caused a bit of panic at first because some people thought that posts by pages would not appear in the news feed (unless pages paid for ads, of course).
A Slovakian journalist reported major drops in the organic reach of several media outlets. Since Slovakia was one of the six countries that the new Explore feed was tested in, this report caused even more panic: what if the organic reach will soon be completely dead for everyone, everywhere?
The reaction is understandable: Facebook has continuously decreased the reach of pages, pushing for more ads and arguing that this was a way for users to get more personal content into their News feed.
So why not kill it altogether and make sure that Facebook will become nothing else but an advertising platform for publishers?
Of course, a probable consequence of this radical change was that some publisher would withdraw altogether from Facebook and take their advertising dollars with them.
Luckily, it looks like the organic reach (small as it is) will not be killed off and users will still be able to see posts from the pages they follow in their news feed. Adam Mosseri, head of news feed at Facebook, recently made this clear.
So what does the Explore Feed entail for publishers, after all?
What is the Explore feed?
Outside of the six countries (Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia) where the “spooky” version of this feed was tested, everyone else can already see it on their desktop or mobile app without noticing any other changes to their news feeds.
In Adam Mosseri’s words, “Explore is a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them. While Explore includes content from relevant pages, posts from pages that people like or follow will continue to appear in news feed.”
If you check yours, you’ll see that you can also see posts from pages that you already follow, as well as posts from suggested pages. As Mosseri says, it’s different for everyone, based on individual preferences and, most importantly, based on what your friends like.
For instance, if several of your friends (especially those you interact with most often) have liked that viral cat video, odds are you’ll find it in your Explore feed.
But what does this mean for business pages? If your organic reach hasn’t dropped, will it affect your page?
How business pages can leverage the new Explore feed
Now more than ever you need to build a community around your brand rather than millions of ‘followers.’
Why, you ask?
Because those who truly love what you have to share on Facebook can help you reach more people. Better yet, they can help you reach more people with similar tastes (since the Explore tab will also be based on what users’ friends liked the most).
In other words, you will need better content. Whether you’re a local business or a global one, you need to spend more time understanding what your audience wants to learn about and give them that instead of promotional content.
Social listening is a good place to start. At the digital marketing agency I run, we spend roughly 80 percent of our time researching social media trends for our customers and only 20 percent creating posts according to them.
And this is not just about checking trending hashtags. We analyze the competitors, we check what works for them and what doesn’t and we always seize opportunities to take over when they slack off.
It’s more about social media marketing than social media management – as it should have been from the start. You can think about this as similar to the newest Google algorithm updates that I wrote about at length in my previous articles. Search engines have started to really put the user first. Consequently, human-centric content is the one that performs best in SERPs. No more keyword stuffing, no more meaningless content. Professional content writers and publishers need to focus on offering actual value instead of promotional junk.
The same goes for social media content. Instead of thinking “how can I promote my business better on Facebook?” think “what would my Facebook audience want to see?”
Answer this question and your Facebook strategy is half done. As long as you put the customer or end user first, no algorithm change can (completely) kill your social media presence.
Social listening will be even more important as organic reaches decrease in Facebook. Some predict that 2018 will mark the end of Facebook organic reach.
As the old saying goes, you should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In a nutshell: spruce up your social listening skills and tools, start creating more valuable content and…put aside a few bucks for buying Facebook ads. You know, just in case these predictions turn out to be accurate.
By Adriana Tica