Facebook Likes Your Cat Videos, Too

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Do you ever feel as if your personal Facebook feed is sometimes filled with posts from media publishers and other commercial outlets, often at the expense of posts from your friends?

Well, you’re not the only one. After more and more Facebook users told the social media behemoth that important posts from close friends often didn’t make it into their news feed, Facebook decided to change its algorithm to make sure that doesn’t happen moving forward. It recently announced it is limiting the amount of content from other sources in favor of posts from friends and family.

This is how Facebook Vice President for Product Management Adam Mosseri explained the change. “Stories in news feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from friends,” he said. “One of our most important jobs is getting this ranking right.”

That means pictures of your brother’s new baby will be ranked above posts from Reuters or the New York Times. This will cause companies who use Facebook to distribute their content to see a decline in their reads and shares, and in their ad revenue.

These changes will have a real impact. Many publishers and news outlets rely on Facebook to generate ad revenue when a user clicks on a piece of their content. According to the analytics firm Parse.ly, over 40% of the web traffic for media sites comes from Facebook. Similarly, the Pew Research Center reports that 30% of U.S. adults get their news directly from Facebook, with 44% regularly reading news content on the site.

Unless a cat video from your high school sweetheart comes in first…

Dropping traffic, but not if it’s passed along

These changes will affect all types of content posted on a publisher’s official home page: videos, photos, links, and stories. Facebook said it expects a drop in reach and referral traffic for those publishers.

But if that content is shared and commented upon, it won’t suffer. When your friends interact will a publisher’s content this will appear higher in your news feed than posts directly from the publisher. This is in line with the focus on items from your friends, not from commercial sources.

Back to the beginning

While Facebook, and Google for that matter, are always changing their algorithms, this change could really affect small publishers of content. While the L.A. Times probably won’t see much change, a small business touting a weekly special may. This is because the involvement of publishers putting their content on Facebook has exploded.

Mr. Mosseri commented on this. “The growth and competition in the publisher ecosystem is really, really strong,” he said. “We’re worried that a lot of people using Facebook are not able to connect to friends and family as well because of that.”

Connecting with friends and family, after all, is the reason everyone got on Facebook in the first place.

What does this mean for your practice? And what can you do about it?

Since your practice would be classified as a small publisher, you will suddenly become less relevant on the feeds of your followers. The posts you publish on your practice site will be de-valued from here on out.

But there are tricks to getting around these changes. There are a few keys based around both engagement of your followers and supplementing your posts.

Here are some tips to improve engagement of your practice’s posts:

  1. Supplement the posts we (MyAdvice) provide with photos and video from the office. This way your patients can like and interact with it, circumventing the new changes.
  2. Supply native video in your posts. If a patient wants to say something about a procedure or about your practice, take a quick video on your phone and post it directly to Facebook (after making sure the person is OK with that first and they’ve signed a release!).
  3. Encourage your staff members to interact with your posts, sharing, commenting, and liking them. These interactions signal the algorithm that the particular post is popular so it will be ranked higher and will show up on more news feeds.
  4. Pay to boost your posts — as little as $10 can dramatically increase the reach.

If you have any questions about the new Facebook algorithm changes, don’t hesitate to call your MyAdvice digital marketing team. We can show you ways to outsmart these changes and continue to use Facebook as a great interaction tool with your patients.

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