Changes to Facebook News Feed Could Be Bad News for Doctors

Facebook, news feed, algorithm update, brand advocateIf you’ve been thinking that your Facebook posts aren’t getting as much exposure as they used to you’re not alone. Recent changes to the algorithm that determines which posts get seen and which ones get buried have led to a precipitous drop in the number of people who are seeing posts from the brands and companies that they follow.

According to Facebook, the changes are all about showing “the right content to the right people at the right time.” To accomplish that, the company’s algorithm now gives more weight to content that it considers highly relevant (based on what else you and your friends are reading), highly shareable (based on the likes, comments, etc., it receives) and coming from a “high-quality,” i.e., authoritative, source.

Translation: If you haven’t established your credibility and you’re posting generic content that no one considers worth liking, sharing or commenting on, the odds of it showing up in your followers’ News Feeds are likely to get worse.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your odds. Here are 4:

Be relevant, credible and timely: There’s a reason Facebook calls it a “News” Feed so it’s not surprising that truly newsworthy content gets a boost from the latest change. Underscoring the site’s goal of being everybody’s one-stop online source for information (take that, Google!), it’s emphasizing what it considers “high-quality” content, which it defines as relevant, timely and from a credible source.

Be buzzworthy: Given Facebook’s goal of becoming its users’ go-to news source (via users’ postings of news they consider share-worthy), it’s more important than ever to think like a publisher. Catchy headlines, controversial positions and other tactics that catch peoples’ eyes are all good ways to get people’s attention.

Encourage engagement: Part of the latest change involves “bumping” older stories up the News Feed after other people engage with them via comments, etc. According to Facebook, the idea is to resurface older posts that users might have missed the first time around but it further underscores the need to create compelling content that prompts an action from readers. Incorporating user-generated content, asking questions, conducting polls, etc., also generates the signals that help Facebook ascertain the “value” of your content.

Prime the pump: While most of your followers can be considered lurkers who rarely engage, you probably already have patients/followers who are so happy with their results that they’re more than willing to share their experiences with others. Such brand advocates are well worth cultivating — with targeted messages, exclusive offers, etc. — and getting them to contribute can give your content the boost it needs to remain top of mind and top of feed.

In other words, while Facebook’s latest algorithm update could be bad news, there’s no reason it has to be.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

, ,