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01Feb

How Facebook changes affect business social strategies

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Several social media platforms are currently meeting the furore of an international “techlash” from politicians and many in business, the media and across society at large. As well as being criticised for aggressive tax avoidance, they have been labelled as being big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy (BAAD).

Facebook has been accused of using its power as means to dominate all competition and instil negative values in society, such as body image, vanity metrics and misguided self-validation through using their apps. Additionally, and most recently, has been the surge in advertising that funds this corporate giant which has been impacted by fake news.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has now announced the need for Facebook to change the way its news delivery service works. Its focus will now be on local news sources in order to drive “high quality” content to its users.

Downgrading corporate posts

This change of direction will have a significant impact on the prominence of business in Facebook news. Mark Zuckerberg states his intention in a recent post 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”  - that is a 20% change.

This makes the Facebook environment much more competitive for business, so strategies need to be planned in the light of the fact that this social network is increasingly taking on the obligations of a publisher as opposed to using the excuse of simply being a platform or portal for content with a minimal degree of monitoring. This seems to be the message that Zuckerberg wishes to send out, as he said.

“I've asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local…

There's too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don't specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them. That's why it's important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.”

This goes some way towards describing a genuine editorial policy and businesses should start to model their Facebook strategies with the kind of communications expertise needed when approaching established news and broadcasting channels. Automated marketing techniques just won’t work anymore and Facebook has expressed its continued determination to reduce what it terms as “false news, misinformation, clickbait, sensationalism and inauthentic accounts.”

Business in the community

Facebook is repositioning itself as a network for genuine social engagement with an emphasis on the community and businesses that have stories to tell and comments to make that are compatible with this editorial approach have a good chance of being included. As Zuckerberg has said: "If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed."

Community relations is a well-established area of PR and communications and businesses with expertise in this field could well make their mark in the new Facebook environment. Another factor to consider is that now Facebook has taken on an editorial policy and ethical stance. So inclusion in its News Feed will signify editorial endorsement and have a testimonial value. The outcome is actually a change for the better and, for businesses who seek prominence on Facebook, there is everything to play for. So why wait...

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