Facebook’s new ‘friends & family first’ algorithm: What businesses should know


Facebook once again tweaks its news feed algorithm (see this post for a history of Facebook algorithm and other changes). This time, it’s ‘friends and family first’ – what’s being shared from friends and family will now be prioritised over posts shared by business and news media pages, rendering them less prominent or less visible to Facebook users.

This will lessen traffic to many business and news media sites that are dependent on sharing articles in their Facebook pages.

Facebook’s priorities
In its June 29 announcement, Facebook also said that, next to posts from friends and family, posts to prioritise in the news feed will be based on two more characteristics: informative and entertaining. How would Facebook tell if a post is going to be informative and entertaining? That would be based on users’ particular likes and dislikes. Then they’ll show more ‘related’ posts. Wired thinks this is just going to make Facebook users’ echo chambers sound louder.

Since Facebook, with this new algorithm, effectively told marketers: “sorry, pay up or stay out of sight”, depending on cost-effectiveness, we can expect a lot of marketers to quit their Facebook pages and just go to Google+, Pinterest, or Instagram. On the other hand, lot of marketers can also be expected to pay the piper – paying Facebook for ‘boosting’ their posts up users’ news feeds.

Social Media Today also expects a surge in these kinds of posts and tactics on Facebook:
1. Hyper-personalised content;
2. Chain letter-like posts;
3. Posts that reward those who like and share with discounts, coupons, or other prizes; and
4. “Like schemes’ – a bit like link farming and is probably a violation of Facebook TOS. This could be something that Facebook saw coming and might do something about it in the future with another algorithm (no free lunch, except for Facebook).

In the wake of the new algorithm, some businesses and news organisations also told their likers/followers to check the ‘See First’ option under the ‘Liked’ dropdown (‘Following’ dropdown on the smartphone app) to specifically tell Facebook that a user considers a page informative and entertaining (or ‘it’s like a friend or family to me’):

There is a class of news/business organisation whose traffic could probably come out relatively unscathed under this new algorithm: Organisations whose own web pages are viral – being shared and commented on like crazy by Facebook users without effort by the website owners. Contrast that with an organisation who has a Facebook page and whose handler is sharing posts madly on Facebook, but in vain.

New Facebook Algorithm

However not every website can go viral. Banks, for example, are often seen as boring, unless they figure in something spectacular like the Global Economic Crisis of 2008. But that’s the challenge for marketers.
Forbes tells us this algorithm change is a wake-up call for businesses and media organizations:
“But perhaps this change is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it will make media companies wake up to the fact that Facebook and other social platforms are not going to be the saving grace of the media industry.”
Still, a piece of that 1.65 billion-user pie is something to aspire for. But you must be prepared to spend money, effort, or both.

Contact us if you need help revitalising your Facebook strategy.