Skip links

A Video Marketing Guide to the Facebook FeedPocalypse

If you want the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, then it’s 42. But, if you want a video marketing guide to the “Facebook FeedPocalypse,” then it’s more complicated:

  • If you’re an influencer with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should de-emphasize your ability to get more views (reach) and re-emphasize your ability to get more engagements per view (engagement rate).
  • If you’re a media company with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should cut your budget for producing Facebook videos by 3 percent and shift that money into buying Facebook ads to promote your mobile app.
  • If you’re a brand with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should make 3 percent fewer videos for your own Facebook page and sponsor more video campaigns with influencers who create more engaging content.

Now, that sounds good. But you’re a skeptic. You want the backstory.

Backstory of the Facebook FeedPocalypse

In a post on his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg writes, “We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

On the same day, Adam Mosseri, the Head of News Feed for Facebook, also published a post. It says, “Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to—whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

The next day, Zuckerberg wrote a second post. It says, “Last week I announced a major change to encourage meaningful social interactions with family and friends over passive consumption. As a result, you’ll see less public content, including news, video, and posts from brands. After this change, we expect news to make up roughly 4% of News Feed — down from roughly 5% today. This is a big change, but news will always be a critical way for people to start conversations on important topics.”

Summary: people are going to see more from people they know. Which means less from your brand.

So, what should you do now? Well, one last quote, this one from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “DON’T PANIC.”

Key trends

About 25 years ago, I worked for William B. Ziff, Jr., who once said, “We pay too much attention to events and not enough to trends.” These Facebook news feed changes show his advice remains true. If video marketers had been paying close attention to key trends, then they wouldn’t have been surprised by Zuckerberg and Mosseri’s posts.

An earlier post, by Shabnam Shaik, a Technical Program Manager on Facebook’s Protect and Care Team, disclosed that the social media network had taken action against over 30,000 fake accounts in France to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”

A day later, Shaik announced that Facebook was “taking another step to disrupt a spam operation that we have been combating for six months. It is made up of inauthentic likes and comments that appear to come from accounts located in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries. … The apparent intent of the campaign was to deceptively gain new friend connections by liking and interacting primarily with popular publisher Pages on our platform, after which point they would send spam. … As we remove the rest of the inauthentic likes, we expect that 99% of impacted Pages with more than 10,000 likes will see a drop of less than 3%.”

But, an analysis of 24 news publisher pages by Graham Kates, Irina Ivanova, and Shanika Gunaratna of CBS News found more than 8 million lost “likes” from Facebook’s user purge. The hardest hit of those surveyed was USA Today’s official Facebook page, which saw more than 38 percent of its “likes” erased, suggesting that close to six million of the accounts following the publisher’s page had been fake or bot accounts rather than real people.

So, influencers, media companies, and brands shouldn’t have been surprised when Facebook announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm two months ago. And 99 percent of video marketers with more than 10,000 fans shouldn’t be acting as if the “Facebook FeedPocalypse” is the equivalent of the demolition of the planet Earth by a Vogon constructor fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

If publishers and businesses have more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then 99 percent of them can expect to see the number of views and engagements for their Facebook videos drop between 2 to 3 percent year-over year. Now, if this reflected a drop in the number of real people actually watching, liking, commenting on, and sharing their Facebook videos, then this would be a cause for concern. But, if this reflects a drop in fake accounts and fraudulent engagement, then it isn’t really an “apocalypse,” is it?

What about digital publisher Little Things, whose CEO blamed changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm after the company shut down? Well, as Karissa Bell reported in Mashable, Facebook’s head of news products Alex Hardiman addressed that question at SxSW. Without naming names, he said, “I think that when we look at publishers who are not doing well, most likely it’s because they are abusing the system in some way. Their content might be sensationalist, it could be misleading, it could be triggering ad farm warnings. There’s a reason for certain publishers that they don’t do well on Facebook.”

Strategic insights

Now, I realize that reminding you about these key trends is like telling you that “the plans for the bypass have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months” when we all know they were in an unlit cellar “at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’” So, let me end this column the way Adams wanted to finish Hitchhiker: on a slightly more upbeat note.

There are times when Facebook appears to be powered by an infinite improbability drive. At times like these, about the most massively useful thing an influencer, media company, or brand can have is a guide like Ford Prefect, who knows where his towel is.

Fortunately, there are a couple such guides for Facebook’s News Feed algorithm: Gavin McGarry, the CEO of Jumpwire Media, and Mark Robertson, an industry consultant and advisor. In an article published on LinkedIn Pulse, Jim Louderback, the CEO at VidCon, asked them, “How will the Facebook News Feed changes affect businesses?” McGarry said, “We just don’t know yet.” And Robertson added, “I believe that it’s a bit early to predict exactly how this will ultimately affect businesses.”

That’s why I’m really impressed that McGarry and Robertson went out on a limb to make a tough call instead of just kicking the can down the road until they had more information. All they knew at the time is what they knew about key trends in the past. By parsing Zuckerberg and Mosseri’s posts, they were able to glean insight into the future.

So, kudos to both of these guides, who agreed that “a renewed focus on posting engaging content that sparks conversations between friends and family was the right strategy. Each also confirmed that you’ll need a mix of paid and organic to truly stand out—just relying on organic posting simply isn’t enough.” And both McGarry and Robertson said that “they’ll be burning the midnight oil to investigate, test and research ways for their clients to profit from these changes.” So, you won’t want to miss their presentations at VidCon Europe in Amsterdam later this month and VidCon US in June.

It turns out that McGarry and Robertson’s initial advice, “DON’T PANIC,” was exactly correct.

Of course, some businesses and publishers missed—or dismissed—their strategic insights. For example, BuzzFeed bought ads on Facebook that said, “Facebook is taking the news out of your News Feed, but we’ve got you covered. Download our award-winning app.” On Jan. 12, 2018, a BuzzFeed spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement to Garett Sloan of Ad Age, “Interest in news is greater than ever before, and we want to assure our loyal readers—and ones we haven’t yet reached—that these changes will not affect our ability to connect with and deliver for them.”

So, two months after the so-called Facebook FeedPocalypse supposed took place, what strategic insights can I share with you in this video marketing guide to the Facebook FeedPocalypse? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s complicated:

  • If you’re an influencer with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should de-emphasize your ability to get more views (reach) and re-emphasize your ability to get more engagements per view (engagement rate).
  • If you’re a media company with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should cut your budget for producing Facebook videos by 3 percent and shift that money into buying Facebook ads to promote your mobile app.
  • If you’re a brand with more than 10,000 Facebook fans, then you should make 3 percent fewer videos for your own Facebook page and sponsor more video campaigns with influencers who create more engaging content.

There’s just one problem with this strategic insight: It needs a “best if used by date” stamp. Why? Those news feed changes won’t be the last. That’s another reason why businesses and publishers need to continue paying close attention to key trends. Since Facebook looks like it will continue being powered by an infinite improbability drive, video marketers are “never sure where they’ll end up or even what species they’ll be when they get there.”

Download The Comprehensive Guide To Content Marketing

Get instant access to our complete guide to content marketing

Download Now

Join the Discussion

Return to top of page