Reality Check: Facebook’s Algorithm Change Isn’t a Death Blow to Local Businesses

Recently announced algorithm changes at Facebook have thrown many businesses and publishers into a tizzy. And understandably so. On January 11, Facebook confirmed that its news feed would begin deprioritizing their content in favor of posts that users’ friends and family share and comment on. “As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Zuckerberg wrote. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as local media, have become quite reliant on Facebook as means of disseminating their content to interested audiences. As such, news that this content and messaging might soon reach far fewer people on Facebook is understandably worrisome. But the panic that has swept across businesses and publishers in the wake of the announcement is both premature and unwarranted.

First off, for as much attention as Facebook’s announcement has received, it’s still incredibly unclear what effect the algorithm changes will have on SMBs and local media. Yes, it does behoove businesses to anticipate and plan for drastic reductions in traffic and views being driven by Facebook. But such reductions might not be as catastrophic as anticipated, depending on the value and quality of engagement happening with businesses’ content.

Secondly, even if the traffic declines from the algorithm change prove to be “worst-case scenario,” SMBs and local publishers must keep an essential point in mind: social media (and Facebook specifically) aren’t the only tools to reach audiences. Local advertisers and media must broaden their arsenals to include alternate means of message and content dissemination.

In this regard, native advertising represents a particularly powerful opportunity for SMBs and local media. When done right, native advertising breaks through the ad clutter and provides valuable information or entertainment to audiences when they’re most receptive to it. Another important note is that native advertising isn’t beholden to a single platform such as Facebook. It can manifest in many forms and adapt to all manner of online media; thus freeing companies from constant worry over the
whims of Facebook.

As noted earlier, the impact of Facebook’s latest algorithm shift has yet to be full understood, and AffinityX will continue to monitor the effects as they become clear. But in the meantime, SMBs and local media need to refrain from panicking and remind themselves that there are ways to connect meaningfully with consumers outside of Facebook’s walled – and fickle – garden.