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Facebook's News Feed Update Makes AI More Important Than Ever for Content Marketers

Facebook's News Feed Update Makes AI More Important Than Ever for Content Marketers

By now I’m sure you’ve heard January 11 was The Great Death Of The Facebook News Feed For Publishers. Mark Zuckerberg has declared 2018 the year he fixes Facebook, and he’s starting with the News Feed. While the implications for companies heavily invested in Facebook are massive, the reality is that it’s only “end of days” for marketers who don’t understand how to navigate the changes. In fact, for marketers with the technology to know what content performs in this new environment it presents an opportunity to increase performance by 600%, while all others fall into irrelevance.

What happened?

Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is prioritizing content from friends and family, and drastically reducing public content from news outlets and companies. Video in particular is going to be limited, with live video taking a much higher priority over passive video. According to Gizmodo CEO Raju Narisetti, “it should be the final kiss of death for those pivoting to video betting on getting video views via Facebook.”

The News Feed overhaul will instead be prioritizing content that facilitates “meaningful social interactions” This means that engagements such as likes will be valued less, while lengthy comments, shares, and posts in Groups will rank higher. They will also be taking a more active approach in demoting clickbait and punish posts that “engagement bait” with offers of coupon codes or other incentives for linking a publishers post.

Why is it significant?

Companies used to the massive traffic Facebook has historically generated are in for a shock, since Inc estimates posts from publishers will be suppressed as much as 5X. Engagements will similarly drop with the reduction in reach.

It will also have a large impact on ad prices. Lower supply (up to 80%) combined with publishers needing to spend more money to resurrect their organic reach will drive prices up.

While at first glance this seems shocking, it's actually in keeping with a longstanding effort to temper organic reach Facebook announced in 2013. In fact between 2012 and 2014 organic reach dropped from 16% to 1% - 2%. Things got even tighter in June 2016 when it was announced the News Feed was going to begin giving more weight to posts from friends and family.

Ads have been following the same trend, rising approximately 41% in the last year. All this means that the Zuck’s announcement is simply doubling down on a changes 4 years in the making because of all the recent political heat Facebook has taken.

What happens now?

If Facebook is an important acquisition or branding channel for your company, there is good news in light of these changes. On average Facebook engagements have been decreasing about 40% a year, brands that use AI technologies for content strategy and reporting are seeing over a 600% increase in social performance. Take these new changes into account and the delta in performance between companies using AI and those that don’t will likely be the difference between being relevant on Facebook or disappearing into the ether.

AI will also make a big difference in the efficacy of ad spends. By looking at millions of Facebook ads, AI technology can identify the optimal content for ads, as well as the most effective spend to put behind it. Since competition for ads is going to increase greatly as brands compete to try and win back the traffic they’ve lost, being able to know an ad is generating the most ROI will be critical to avoid spending wars.

For companies who felt the need to market on Facebook out of obligation, yet never saw the results they were looking for, now is the perfect time to ditch the channel and invest your efforts elsewhere. Continue to use it to answer questions and get feedback from consumers, but it simply won’t be worth the time and monetary investment necessary to have any kind of impact.

Now is the time to decide if your in or out using Facebook as a marketing channel. And if you’re in, there’s no choice but to start using next generation tools.

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