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Facebook’s algorithm grenade is Instagram’s gain

We’d barely had time to undress the tree and pack away the festive decs this year when Facebook lobbed its biggest algorithmic grenade into the world of Brand Page Marketing for some time. The implications of its announcement, on the surface merely an acceleration of its prioritisation of personal content announced last year, are likely to be more far reaching then previous changes. The fact that it chose to make it a major international mainstream media announcement rather than slipping it out via its business blog is indicative of the scale of the impact it anticipates the changes will have on publisher and brand content.

Its principle target will be publishers and media organisations as part of its response to criticism over fake news and its impact on democracy and society. However although publisher content will be hit hardest in terms of reach restrictions, organic reach for Brand Pages is bound to suffer. The impact on Paid Social for Brands will also be significant, realised in increases in costs per action, as personal content accounts for a greater percentage of timeline space and brands fight for what’s left.

Many commentators see this as the end of the end for organic Facebook marketing and they may turn out to be right. Certainly Brand Pages that have consistently failed over recent months and years to stimulate organic engagement through great content, instead churning out repurposed TV ads shored up by advertising spend will see organic reach collapse (and probably won’t care). Pages where custodians have worked hard to engage, gone easy on the engagement bait and invested in highly relevant and engaging organic content may well see less of an impact, as Facebook’s algorithm still acknowledges the part they play in adding value to personal timelines and individual experience. Only time will tell.

A resulting change we’d bet our shirt on however is the shift in ad revenues from Facebook to Instagram. Instagram is consistently delivering far greater returns than Facebook for our Paid Social clients across a hugely diverse set of target consumer audience definitions and objectives. So if your organic Facebook reach drops through the floor in February and your looking to invest more in Paid Social, you’ll most likely to find the sweet spot your looking for on Instagram.

There’s been lots of other less seismic but nevertheless important changes in Social Media since the turn of the year, which we’ll update you on shortly. In the meantime keep an eye on your Facebook organic reach – it may be on the move, and not in a good way.

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