Over the last few years, Facebook has come under criticism for its increase in spammy content, links to fake news articles and a segregation of communities which is achieving the opposite of Facebook’s original aim of connecting people. Their reaction ever since has been based on Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of facilitating ‘time well spent’ for users on Facebook.
This aim from Zuckerberg has manifested itself over the last year in the form of heavily penalising reach on content deemed to be click-bait as well as pumping a lot of resources into the Facebook Watch platform. Watch is Facebook’s aim to host high-quality video content on their platform. This will come in the form of live sports, TV series and other long-form pieces of professional content. These two strategies combined highlight Facebook’s desire to increase the quality of it’s offering by removing poor content and investing heavily in quality content.
New Year, New Facebook
Going into 2018, Facebook seem to have given themselves a New Year’s resolution of once and for all making Zuckerberg’s dream a reality. In an attempt to push towards their ambitions of hosting high-quality content and high-quality content only, they’ve taken three major steps to achieve this.
Firstly, the clean-up had begun with the reduction of reach on links that go to low-quality websites. This basically means that sites that aren’t very popular will not perform very well when posted on Facebook. This runs the risk of allowing big companies to monopolise Facebook feeds, however, it seems like this is the trade-off Facebook are willing to make. From Facebook’s perspective, this is a step to reduce the number of links to spammy and unprofessional websites that its users see. This is all part of their increased focus on the user experience, which in effect means if you want to increase reach on your posts, links to small websites are not advised.
Secondly, a big change that which will drastically affect the way many accounts post is the aggressive squashing of reach on posts deemed as engagement-bait. These have been the centre of many social media strategies that seek to gain engagement. These will be categorised as posts that actively ask the user to ‘like’ or ‘share’, as well as posts that demand the user responds with certain phrases or tags. Again Facebook want genuinely quality content and you can’t blame them for this step. It will be interesting to see how marketers react to this change, as the quality of content is now even more so the number one factor to consider.
Finally, these low end clean up techniques are both in place to fuel the main aim of hosting regular high-end content, mainly to rival competitor Youtube. Facebook will be giving extra reach boosts to videos that are actively searched for by users, therefore seeking to feed the needs of mass audiences. This is very much a reactive strategy, rather than pushing video towards people, they are seeing what content the users go after. This will also lead to popular content providers receiving boosts across the board. If there’s one message Facebook is sending out, it is that they want to see quality over quantity.
Future of the platform
So where does this leave Facebook in 2018? Well, what we are definitely going to see is Facebook pushing even faster towards a platform for video. 2017 saw video take over but in a low-level form. Publishers figured out how the algorithms favoured video and pushed all sorts out as fast as they could. Facebook’s top-level push towards professional video will filter through to the everyday feed with professionally produced content being at the forefront. This is Facebook attempting to grow up in the video world and take on Youtube and even Netflix. The big takeaway for marketers and content publishers is, if you want Facebook to view your content kindly, you better put a bit more time and effort into it in 2018.