According to a newly-released list of "News Feed Values," Facebook is officially putting "Friends and Family" first. Should brands be worried?

By Mac Jaehnert

Another day, another announcement from Facebook that has social media managers wringing their hands. While perhaps the furthest the company has gone to publicly detail how their content ranking algorithm works, this news has been met with some consternation among brands and publishers who rely on the platform to get their message out.

From a consumer perspective, this is a welcome announcement. If you polled 100 Facebook users about why they use Facebook, I'd be shocked if a single one of them said their primary reason for being on the platform was to stay in touch with their favorite brands. But from a business perspective, the promotion of branded content is what helps pay for all the developers, staff, and servers required to keep a platform with 1.65 billion users humming along without interruption, and without monetary cost to the users.

While a VP from Facebook's News Feed team has said that publishers should expect a "small but noticeable" decrease in organic reach, I'm not recommending any brand that I manage or consult with shift resources away from Facebook as a result. Why? Because the only brands who will be materially impacted by this change are those who fundamentally misunderstand the nature of social media marketing in the first place.

Social media is not the venue for being purely self-promotional. It's not a digital trade show. It's a party you've shown up to in your company polo shirt. Imagine walking around to each person at that party, and introducing yourself by trying to sell them your product before getting to know them. Sounds pretty miserable for all involved. But by establishing a rapport and building social capital first, you're far more likely to cultivate a successful long-term brand relationship.

If a brand isn't using social media to provide tangible value to their fans by being informative, entertaining, or inspirational, they'll continue to struggle to find and cultivate an audience.

Below are my 3 tips for ensuring your brand will survive and thrive in social media regardless of any tweaks Facebook might make to their algorithm:

  1. Think like a fan.
    • Put yourself in the shoes of the people who love your product, service, or brand in order to reverse-engineer the social content they'd find most valuable. 
  2. Make your content inherently shareable.
    • If brands can get their fans to share their content, Facebook's algorithm may favor it as a post from a friend instead of a post from a brand.
    • Shareability = Awesomeness of Content / (Time + Effort it Takes to Consume). 
  3. Selectively promote it to the right audience.
    • Facebook's advertising tools are some of the most advanced and cost-efficient digital ad options available to the general public. You can micro-target your content with small ad buys to expand your audience into specific niches.

How are you reacting to Facebook's latest news?