Coinciding with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s promise to ‘fix’ Facebook in his annual New Year’s promise for 2018, the platform is undergoing a drastic transformation this year. The ‘Stories’ feature has been opened-up to brands, while a major algorithm revamp is being rolled-out for users’ News Feeds.

Facebook’s is aiming to make the site more about interpersonal connection. This means users will see more posts from their closest friends and family, and less public content from brand pages, including videos, along with fewer news updates from publishers.

Here we assess the implications of this overhaul on brands’ Facebook strategies, and ways you can adapt accordingly.

When Will These Changes Roll Out?

The site has already begun implementing these changes. Facebook Stories, which was initially rolled out to personal profiles last March, has now been extended to pages. Brands could already use similar tools on Snapchat and the Facebook-owned platform Instagram. They now also have the opportunity to make their content visible above the main News Feed – accompanying the ‘Go Live’ feature which already exists.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri announced that updates to users’ personal feeds will take place “over the next few months”. While public content and news articles will become less of an algorithmic priority, it’s worth noting that Mosseri’s statement also mentions how “pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect” As a result, engaging video and written content will still play an important role in brands’ Facebook strategies.

How Can Brands Adapt their Strategies?

Brands which create content of genuine value for users will achieve better News Feed rankings, and, therefore, higher visibility. So, in a sense, the end goal remains the same. Stories is a good way for pages to do just this, especially around brands’ product roll-outs and major events (Cheltenham, World Cup matches, poker tournaments, etc.). It’s a cost-effective way to showcase the story of your brand’s day, providing behind-the-scenes and front-seat access which makes users feel as if they’re experiencing the day with you. Posts can also be made more personal with free amenities, such as geo-filters.

Because brands’ stories feature at the top of users’ homepages, it also means that a wider audience is potentially reached because the content isn’t lost in the News Feed. The feature could also be used to alert your followers when new content has been published on your page or website, similar to the Brunch Boys’ Instagram Stories strategy. Sportsbooks, for example, could alert followers when they’ve published a new match preview or interview video, while casinos might wish to promote exclusive player offers and competitions through this method.

Creating quality video content will still contribute an important part to improving followers’ online experience, especially when you consider HubSpot research that 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day. Brands such as Betfair resonate with their followers through video content by creating shareable pieces involving famous brand ambassadors, such as ex-England footballer Rio Ferdinand.

Smaller sportsbooks and casinos, which might not have access to big names like Ferdinand, can take inspiration from the video strategy of sportsbooks such as Ladbrokes. The brand uses Live Video to record discussions about current sporting topics, through the eyes of supporters. This resonates with users because the conversations are exactly like what they would have with their friends and colleagues on a daily basis, making it more relatable. They also trigger a debate in the comments section, prompting even further engagement. This Ladbrokes Live Video on deciding the best of two goalkeepers in real time, for example, attracted 134 comments and 18 shares.

Facing Up

Brands should view Facebook’s changes as an opportunity to streamline their social media strategy and create even more powerful, personalised content. The introduction of Stories gives brands, especially those with a bigger presence on Facebook than Instagram and Snapchat, another way to leverage their content. While algorithms will favour posts from friends and family, brands who drive conversations and engage their customers will remain successful. Because brands will have to streamline what goes out on their page, the end result will be a higher-quality Facebook channel for brands and users alike.

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