Big Changes at Facebook Will Impact Local Businesses, Including Local News Sites

On Thursday Facebook announced they will soon make changes to news feeds around the world.

Facebook wants to increase “meaningful interaction.”  People on Facebook will see friends’ and families’ posts first in their news feeds.

Some fantastic Facebook pages that have grown organically over the years will suffer.

Posts from brands and publishers – including everything from New York Times to Greenwich Free Press – will be de-emphasized.

At Greenwich Free Press, many readers arrive on our home page via our free daily newsletter at 6:00am. (Simply click here to sign up for the daily newsletter. The only required field is your email address.)

Others prefer to follow Greenwich Free Press in-the-moment on Facebook.

According to Craig Jones from Greenwich Point Marketing, Facebook’s changes will go into effect this week or next week.

He said a workaround to the Facebook changes for people who want to keep hyper-local news from trusted sources in their Facebook newsfeed is to click “Follow” and then select “See First.”

To make sure GFP stories appear in your news feed after Facebook changes its algorithms, make sure to click Follow and “See First.”

Facebook Apocalypse
According to Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, the changes will be “end of times for pages with organic traffic.” He foresees a “Facebook Apocalypse” for business and publishers on Facebook.

Jones said that unlike Instagram, where people mainly see their friends with some businesses posts sprinkled in, “On Facebook, it was going the other way. You saw lots of businesses with your friends sprinkled in.”

“With the pending changes, if a business wants to get in front of you, they need to pay to boost their posts,” Jones continued. “The only way for people on Facebook see a business or publisher’s post organically is if one of your friends has commented or shared it.”

“Liking is not the same as commenting. If you comment, you are really engaging,” Jones said. “A lot of people ‘Like” without even reading a post. They are minimizing the value of a Like and increasing the value of a comment. Those are the posts Facebook will promote. Anything with a conversation they’ll encourage.”

Facebook Sharing and Commenting
If you appreciate the stories about Greenwich on GFP’s Facebook page, including nostalgia like skating on Mianus Pond or Vinny the Pizza Twirler in Glenville – or our laborious coverage of P&Z, BOE, Parks & Rec, GHS start time, fields and lights – your Facebook shares and comments also go a long way to helping.

According to Jones, “In the old world, anyone who understood how to post to a personal Facebook profile could do a fair enough job posting to a business page. Now they have to understand custom audiences, targeting and pixels. Businesses that don’t prepare are going to get hammered by this change.”

“Before, you could rely on organic traffic if you had enough content. With the Facebook changes, you can’t,” Jones warned. “Normally when I tell people you can re-target your audience, it blows their mind that that’s even a possibility. In the future, that will be the only way to conduct business.”

Jones said administrators of Facebook pages have been coming to Greenwich Point Marketing to set up custom audiences and website re-targeting campaigns. “Moving forward that’s going to be the only way to build your audience,” he said.

As for Greenwich Free Press, we’ve always shared fewer posts to Facebook than other local news publications. Still, we will publish even fewer posts to Facebook – We’ll share our most engaging posts.

Craig Jones is a Greenwich-based social media marketing expert, and co founder of Greenwich Point Marketing.