On Thursday, Facebook introduced major changes to its News Feed algorithm, effectively altering how it ranks posts and visual content on its users’ News Feeds. Facebook will now prioritize what users’ friends and family share in a bid to make sure that time spent on the platform is “time well spent”. Mark Zuckerberg wrote on January 12 that this change is built on feedback from the Facebook community that “public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead [users] to connect more with each other.” Basically, Facebook will now prioritize content shared from personal accounts over content shared from business/media publishers’ accounts.

So, what does this mean for your online business? You have built the bulk of your digital marketing strategy around Facebook, you realise the potential reach of the world’s largest social network (with it’s over 1.3 billion daily active users), you’ve somehow convinced yourself that with Facebook you don’t have to spend too much money to get to a large audience. Well, all that will change now as it has been doing gradually for the past two years or so. In a recent newsletter edition, digital marketing guru, Avinash Kaushik, wrote, “If you are lamenting Facebook’s decision to kick your business/consulting/newspaper/food factory/fake news/whatever else off people’s News Feed… I’m sorry, you’ve been living under a rock.” If you have been diligently monitoring your Facebook Insight and returns on marketing effort on the platform in recent times, you would have noticed already that your organic posts have been yielding poor returns — you would have noticed that your posts don’t get as much reach and engagement as you would have liked if you don’t boost them. These figures (for organic marketing efforts) have been dropping consistently over the past two years because of the gradual algorithm changes. Last Friday’s announcement was probably just a formality.

There are two major ways Facebook’s new algorithm change will affect your online business: one, it’ll force you to become more creative with your content, aiming to make them more personable and more engaging. But this is ultimately a fool’s errand (as I said before, organic reach has been declining and will continue to — it doesn’t benefit Facebook’s bottom line as much as the alternative). The second way this will affect your business (and this is the more beneficial option to Facebook’s bottom line) is that you will have to spend good money on Facebook advertising now. To quote Mr Kaushik, “As a business, you were flushing money away when you posted content on Facebook without promoting. Now, with your reach truly at zero, you can stop flushing. If you value Facebook’s audience, put your money where your mouth is and pay them for access. Just don’t forget to measure two important KPIs: Likelihood to Recommend and Conversion Rate.”

Facebook is, above all, a business, its primary aim is to make money. While the new algorithm changes might benefit users and allow them access to more meaningful posts from people they know, it also presents an opportunity for the business to rake in more advertising dollars. For you as a business owner, if you weren’t already spending money on promoting your Facebook posts, you will now have to if you really want to benefit from the platform’s large audience.

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