FACEBOOK’S BIG ALGORITHM NEWS AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY

Facebook last week made (another) bombshell announcement about algorithm changes that will have a major impact on how brands use the social behemoth (and surely soon to follow, its sister Instagram). Organic reach has long been a pain point for brands, particularly those that don’t have enormous social advertising budgets to help them reach their fans.

In his Facebook note, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

“Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

As with many Facebook announcements, this one comes with questions and has many in the industry scratching their heads and already working to come up with possible solutions. Here, we take a look at some key ponderings and takeaways.

Still TBD: How Will Influencers Be Affected?

Based on Zuckerberg’s announcement, one thing remains unclear: while influencers are, of course, people, they still primarily communicate with their fans through public pages as public figures.

Given the incredible and rapid rise of influencer marketing as a core communications channel, just about every brand marketer is asking: How will influencers be impacted by the algorithm changes (which specifically name brands and publishers as the primary victims) and how will Facebook identify and prioritize (or not) branded content from influencer partners? The answer, unfortunately, is…we will have to wait and see.

Based on the definitions in Zuckerberg’s note, it would be pure speculation at this point to assume one way or the other, however it would seem that influencers who have highly engaged fan bases would be an obvious loophole IF done correctly. Which leads us to our next point…

Authenticity is Now More Important Than Ever

Zuckerberg goes on to say that the changes are intended to encourage people to engage, leading one to believe that content that is still high quality and engaging will still be favored in the newsfeed. With authenticity and oversaturation being issues that have plagued the influencer industry in the last year, this will no doubt hold brand + creator partnerships to a new standard when it comes to content that truly connects.

Ultimately, this is good news for all – Facebook users, brands and influencers/creators. The worst thing that could happen to influencer marketing is getting too big for its britches too soon, and diluting the true value that made it so compelling to begin with: people connect to people. People trust people.

This sentiment is entirely in line with Zuckerberg’s honorably stated intentions for Facebook and, given that creating content is a source of livelihood for so many talented emerging artists and creators, it would be an incredible shame to see the potential of brand partnership and empowerment suffer.

Leveraging Creators and Influencers Beyond Social

One interesting loophole – or rather, an extension to influencer marketing as we know it – is partnering with creators who have the ability to connect brands to their fans both online and in the real world. The one-two punch of creating engaging social content and producing compelling real life experiences that get fans – as Zuck would call them – “real people” – talking and sharing, is going to be more important than ever.

This is one of the key differentiators between BYGMusic (and the music industry in general) and other “traditional” influencer categories. Performers are natural connectors…they have been doing it from the very beginning.

Now is the time to start thinking about “influencer marketing” from a more holistic perspective, building strategies around all possible customer touchpoints.

How do you interpret the coming changes and what are your biggest concerns?