Facebook Friends First

By Claire Backhouse (Social Strategist)

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Recently, Facebook announced updates to the News Feed that will prioritise content from friends over that posted by brands and pages. Responding to dramatic increases in the volume of content competing for space on users’ News Feeds (indeed, average Facebook ad rates increased by 35% last quarter), the announcement offers a solution to recent criticisms that the platform isn’t prioritising friends to the same extent it once did.

Facebook believe they can do more to bring people closer together and better maintain connections between friends and family. To achieve this, they’ll be reconfiguring the News Feed over the coming months, increasing the weighting of meaningful interactions—defined as posts which inspire conversations and engagement, variously measured through the number of comments, messages, shares, likes and reactions they elicit.

As space in the News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends, family and updates which spark conversation will result in less inventory for public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or business. Brand pages may see declines in organic reach, referral traffic, and total video watch time, but posts prompting conversations between friends and leading to meaningful interactions will be less affected.

At present, Facebook claims these changes will have no impact on paid advertising or Instagram. However, if a boosted Page post is getting less organic reach due to these ranking changes, it may also be affected within the ads auction. Notably, however, engagement is just one metric by which an ad is ranked – Facebook’s algorithm relies on many other data points to determine which ads a user sees to ensure relevancy and value. Because the ad auction already optimizes for user value, Facebook is encouraging advertisers to continue to focus on driving real business outcomes.

In light of these announcements, FCB recommends that brands:

  • Continue to create engaging content that will generate conversation between people to be shown higher in the News Feed.
  • Collaborate with influencers whose pages are personal, not branded.
  • Avoid engagement bait – posts which call for an artificial response from users (ie. this-or-that reactions, tagging friends, comments containing specific phrases). Instead, include open-ended questions that inspire thoughtful contributions and discussions from your audience.
  • Experiment with livestreaming to encourage conversation
  • Continue to engage followers with great organic content, as users who follow brand pages will continue to see their posts in the News Feed. Brands may also consider including call-to-actions to “Follow us on Facebook” on non-digital collateral in order to direct more users towards their pages and increase follower counts to support organic engagement


Examples of engagement bait – Facebook’s News Feed changes will deprioritise posts which blatantly attempt to elicit artificial responses from their audience.

Examples of engagement bait – Facebook’s News Feed changes will deprioritise posts which blatantly attempt to elicit artificial responses from their audience. (Source: Facebook Newsroom)

Date: February 28, 2018