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What does Facebook’s overhauled news feed mean for public relations firms?

For years now, Facebook has been a safe bet for public relations firms and teams looking to harness the power of social media marketing. As the single largest social media platform, with over two billion active users around the world, businesses have made good mileage out of paying for promoted content to appear in users’ timelines. Now, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has announced that big changes are in store for the Facebook News Feed and the type of content that will be presented to users – specifically, posts from businesses, brands and media will be less prominent in relation to more meaningful posts from friends, families and groups.

The stated aim is to make the time people spend on Facebook “more valuable” and to encourage “meaningful interactions between people.” While many Facebook users have celebrated the planned changes, for those of us working in public relations the news may be less welcome. So what exactly does this mean for public relations firms and in-house communications teams?

Brands will have to adjust their strategies and approach in light of the changes. Here are a few tips we think will help.

  1. Encourage engagement – Up until now, shares have been the principal measure that allows Facebook posts to go viral. Under the new algorithm, it seems that comments will be the primary driver of what appears in News Feeds. This will require a subtle shift in the type of content posted by brands – from share-worthy posts to content that encourages engagement in the form of comments and debate.
  1. Build a community – The coming changes to Facebook are driven by an intent to bring people closer together. A smart PR company knows how to create content that doesn’t just encourage engagement between the brand and its customers, but also encourages engagement between This type of content, again encouraging comments and debate, will become even more important under the new algorithm.
  1. Connect with your off-Facebook PR efforts – Give your Facebook community something to discuss, for example via a live video stream. Whether that’s an awards ceremony, a local business event or other event marketing promotions, encourage engagement and discussion of your off-Facebook public relations activities on Facebook.
  1. Rethink passive video – Announcing the algorithm changes, Zuckerberg singled out “passively reading articles or watching videos” as not so good for our well-being, in contrast to connecting with people we care about. Pre-recorded videos are therefore unlikely to be winners once the changes have rolled out, so public relations teams may need to rethink their strategies on this front. Shifting to live-video streaming is one solution.

As the changes are phased in over the coming weeks, public relations firms and their clients will have a clearer idea of what Facebook marketing might look like in the future. The tips above should help you to start moving your Facebook public relations efforts in the right direction for future success.

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