Facebook algorithm change throws spanner in the works

For most photographers relying on Facebook as part of their social media and marketing strategy, it’s fair to say that it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship, especially for those reluctant to put their hands in their pockets and pay for sponsored posts. While we appreciate that Facebook is not a charity, and that they, like any other business, is entitled to make a little profit – incidentally, they’re not doing too badly – net income for 2016 was a couple of hundred million over US$10 billion – but the days of the “free lunch” for businesses, publishers, and brands seems to be well and truly over.

A recent change to the way the Facebook News Feed algorithm works has seen brands experience a massive drop in audience engagement on shared posts, and many asking, "WTFB!?" And Capture has in no way been immune to this change either. We’ve also noted a significant drop in our engagement. Having said that, we’re refusing to take the bait and post more cat videos any time soon. But don’t worry, we’re not the only ones impacted by this decision. Mark Zuckerberg took a blow to his personal fortune of around US$3.3 billion when Facebook shares fell 4.4% on the back of the announcement. However, chances are the inconvenience to your business will be greater than Zuckerberg’s drop in net worth.

In just one of numerous dramatic cases, a client of a smaller agency saw engagement on its post drop from 14,000 one week before, to just 500 currently, on a similar post. In another instance, another brand saw its engagement reduce by half, usually attracting an audience of 1,000, and now only reaching 500. In both cases, the information was shared confidentially with AdNews as client contracts restrict from sharing private data.

Staff members at three digital agencies approached by AdNews confirmed they are in the process of overhauling their social strategies for clients and preparing for declines on Facebook. Crisis meetings were called at some agencies. When the news hit, it was reported as a “nuclear bomb” for publishers. But in light of the latest information, it could be brands that are hit the hardest.

GroupM head of digital investment and partnerships, Venessa Hunt says while this change will be challenging to navigate over the next few months, it will likely have greater impact on the publishers than brands, as brands have more flexibility to reach audiences in different ways and often have less reliance on Facebook as an organic reach driver than publishers.

"Following the News Feed update from Facebook, I hope that publishers will look at diversifying their content distribution strategy," Hunt says. She also went on to say, "If you rely on one platform as the sole place to distribute your content and that platform makes changes, you are at the mercy of other person's rules."

A version of this article originally appeared on www.adnews.com.au