So Mark Zuckerberg is a fan of the #newyearnewme trend, announcing in a Facebook post that Facebook would be changing it's algorithm going into 2018. 

So what are these changes and how are they going to affect your business? 

In a nutshell

Practically, Facebook users are going to start to seeing more content that has been shared by friends and family, with company and business updates being phased out of our news feeds. While Zuckerberg's update didn't explicitly say what this would look like, a recent trial in six countries (which relegated branded content to a separate 'Explore' feed) could provide some clues. 

Organic Reach is dead

While we might not know exactly what the updates are going to look like, most experts are predicting that the algorithm changes will mean organic reach is going to crash, as Facebook will not push out company content to users in the same way as it has previously done.

However, paid for content (i.e. posts that you 'boost') will still show up in users' main feeds though, although there will be more competition for this space which might drive cost per impression up. If you don't already have a social media advertising budget, now is the time to find one. 

'Conversations' will take priority

Facebook wants the time users spend on the platform to be more 'meaningful'. This means that content that is intended to be passively consumed (clickbait titles, memes and daft videos) are going to be penalised, while content that encourages genuine conversation will be prioritised.

Facebook's algorithm is going to be looking for signs of 'meaningful social interaction' when deciding what content to push out across other users' news feeds. There's a great opportunity for startups here: by publishing useful, valuable content that your followers want to engage with, you can still reach your target audience. Think about what your brand or company can offer users - insights, expertise or advice.

Goodbye to the 'Like and Share'/ 'Tag someone who...' posts

Facebook's algorithm is not stupid. While it is going to use social signals (including comments, 'likes' and people choosing to share content) to determine what posts to show, it will penalise posts that try to game the system.

If you regularly share memes or videos asking people to 'tag a buddy who...' or to 'like if you agree', you might find yourself feeling a bit loveless. Instead, businesses need to focus on sharing meaningful (there's that word again) content, posing genuine questions and encouraging person-to-person discussion. 

Groups for the win

One feature of Facebook that's likely to do well out of the changes are groups - because these tend to center around common interests already, the content posted in a group should show all the social signals the algorithm is looking for when predicting what users want to see. 

While not every business has a natural group, those that do should be able to still reach a wide audience; more importantly, groups allow businesses to build targeted, engaged audiences. If your startup has a particular area of focus - for example improved productivity, gaming, health and fitness - creating a group where you can share useful content will help you to build a loyal online community.

If you're unsure how to use social media to grow your startup, we have some fully-funded (i.e. free to your business!) social media training, new for 2018. Please contact Jeni Banks if you'd like to know more.