How can brands optimize for Facebook’s recent News Feed changes?

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Facebook recently added two components to its News Feed algorithm: Story Bumping and Last Actor. Although some greeted the system—which ascertains what unread posts are most important to each user and bumps them to the top of the feed—with indifference, many marketers and site stakeholders laud the new system as a way to keep the site relevant.

Betsy Smith, Senior Social Media Strategist for Flightpath, a creative digital agency, talked with Inside Facebook about the changes:

If Facebook was totally linear, it would (be in danger of becoming) the next MySpace. You probably care more about a friend’s baby announcement than someone you last saw in second grade. From a brand point of view…this allows you to see how consumers used your products by providing real feedback. It’s a great place to launch word-of-mouth marketing and measure how people see it and use the product.

Facebook announced that testing among 7,000 daily active users shows a five percent increase in stories seen from friends, an eight percent increase in stories seen from pages and a 57 to 70 percent overall jump in stories read.

But the new system is only a positive if brands’ marketers actively engage in the process, such as by monitoring and responding to comments made by way of Story Bumping and the second part of the new system, Last Actor, which repeats unread posts after taking into account a user’s last 50 engagements.

Smith discussed how brands on Facebook can take advantage of these changes:

You must have a solid social media team that is proactive in terms of seeking out consumers’ likes and keeping the brand at the top of their minds. They also have to (watch) status updates and respond to feedback to show (the company) is acting out of good will.

Gordon Evans, Vice President of Product Marketing with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, agreed, adding that as a Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer, his company sees the new streams as a way for “brands and agencies [to] be successful on the platform and connect with customers in entirely new ways.”

But Robin Grant, global managing director of We Are Social sees the Facebook announcement as more of a way for the site to counteract pushback from core users rather than a way to enhance corporate clients’ marketing efforts.

It seems more likely Facebook is trying to pre-empt a bad public reaction to how these changes might effect brands’ reach and engagement. It would give them the chance to stay one step ahead of criticism and say, in effect, ‘We told you so.’ Story Bumping appears to be aimed at people who visit Facebook less often, so that they avoid missing important updates that were posted since they last visited. Perhaps (this is) a sign that Facebook is getting worried about decreasing user engagement, so they’re changing how the newsfeed works to try and stem the tide.

Readers: How have Story Bumping and Last Actor changed your Facebook publishing habits?

Image courtesy of Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com.

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