If you want to market yourself online, you have to pay attention when Facebook changes its algorithms. While there’s still space to be original and striking with your content, it doesn’t matter what you make if it doesn’t get any screen time. With over 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook is simply not a force you can afford to ignore if you want to be seen online.
Over the next few months, Facebook will begin a new set of ranking updates. According to Facebook, this new series of updates aims to prioritize original video content over other types of content, specifically aiming to support “media companies” to reach wider audiences.
What is Facebook changing?
There are three new factors to consider regarding your video content as Facebook goes forward with these new updates. These are:
- Loyalty and intent
- Video and viewing duration
The key is to understand how Facebook defines these terms, since they don’t mean much without context. Understanding how Facebook ranks your videos will help them (and thus, your business) reach a wider audience.
Loyalty and intent
Facebook is largely gauging loyalty by repeat viewership. These updates will operate under the assumption that content from the same group or individual that people search for week after week is more valuable, and thus will be ranked more highly and favored in the new algorithm. You can prove loyalty to your videos by building up an engaged audience over time that interacts with your video content.
While there are all sorts of tricks tog get followers, consistent engagement isn’t as easy to fake. Over the long run, this won’t be a test of how many followers you have, but whether or not they actually seek out your content and engage with it consistently.
Video and Viewing Duration
Not only must you have an engaged audience that seeks out your content, but how long they watch for will be very important. At least a minute is the goal, especially for longer videos. While a minute may not sound like much in most contexts, it can be very difficult to get someone to stop scrolling through multiple posts per second and engage with just one video for at least sixty seconds.
Facebook claims they’re aiming to limit “unoriginal or repurposed content from other sources.” This means that if the content you’re sharing is a lightly altered version of something else that already exists, it may get penalized in Facebook’s new algorithm. To be on the safe side, it makes more sense to create and publish your own content instead, or repurpose content to the extent it acts as an original work.
In part, the new changes at Facebook are attempts to limit the power and influence of sharing schemes on their site. Sharing schemes occur when Pages or Profiles are *compensated* for sharing large quantities of content from another third party. This is in an attempt to reduce the amount of clickbait and sensationalized titles on Facebook. Make sure that you are aware of the content that is posted to your page.
What is a Content Mill (And How Not Be One)?
Having a professional company create content for your site is different than a content mill using your Page to drive views to their website. It’s easy to get caught up in a “more is more is more” attitude online regarding content, that isn’t so much the case anymore. Facebook, Google, and other platforms are tweaking their algorithms to favor quality, original, engaging content other spam, fake news, and content mills.
Content mills (aka content farms) are specifically designed to put out as much textual content as possible for algorithmic purposes. Usually this involves a lot of listicles, poorly-researched articles, and sensationalized titles (or clickbait). Due to the fact that they are optimized for algorithms, they had taken over Facebook and their push for high-quality video content aims to reduce the influence of such low-quality content.
Facebook Video and Monetization Best Practices
Facebook also has its own “Best Practices” for content on their site to ensure it’s ranked as high-quality as possible. Here is the summary of their Best Practices to ensure you don’t accidentally shoot yourself in the foot:
- Use a Page or Group to build your audience – don’t rely on News Feed
- “Set and Fulfill Viewer Expectations” – A consistent voice and format that your audience knows to look forward to (say every week) can help ensure they continue to come back and watch because they know what to expect
- Related text and image posts to let your audience know when to tune in, how to keep them updated, etc
- “Removing incentives from content that creates less value for people” – sharing and distribution schemes – only use your page to share content you had a hand in. Reading and/or are not compensated to share
Facebook Watch and the Push for Video Content
Facebook Watch was announced in 2017 and rolled out soon after. If you click the “Watch” tab in the left-hand of menu of Facebook, you’ll be directed to a scrollable page of videos. Facebook Watch is a video-on-demand service (similar to Youtube or Youtube Red, which is now owned by Google) where content is produced by partners specifically for Facebook.
The creation of Facebook Watch follows their overall trend of original, engaging video content. Remember that you don’t need them latest cameras and a fully production team to create quality content – in fact, a low-budget aesthetic can help your video in some cases. Knowing where Facebook is heading with their algorithm priorities will help you engage your audience and market to them.
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