08 / May / 18

How Will Facebook’s “Local News” Update Affect Your Social Strategy?

Facebook recently announced that it’s rolling out more local news on users’ feeds through a tweak to its algorithms. At first, the change took place only in the U.S. in January 2018. After that initial push, Facebook began widening its efforts to all countries and languages.

Why is Facebook doing this? It’s an effort to promote less content from worldwide publishers and prioritize content from more relevant local outlets. Facebook rolled out the change to address criticism from users and media that the platform was getting too political. In response, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives.”

How Will Facebook’s “Local News” Update Affect Your Social Strategy?

Relevant Local Content

The change helps local publishers reach more of their target audience by increasing the chance of someone from the publisher’s geographic area see relevant stories. Many local news outlets have struggled to adapt to the era of online publishing.

Facebook also announced that by expanding the scope of what may be considered local to people, they’re including other cities that people may care about and connecting people to local publishers from those cities.

The social platform also pledged to prioritize “high-quality content” in News Feeds that includes “news from sources that are broadly trusted, informative and relevant to local communities.”

The update was initially introduced to U.S. members in January, and was accompanied by this post by Mark Zuckerberg: “Many people told me they thought that if we could turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues, then we’d all make more progress together.”

A Happier News Feed

Facebook’s news feed change is intended to make it a friendlier, happier, more informative, and more trustworthy place to spend time. Or, to put it less optimistically: less of a cesspool of time-sucking viral nonsense and politically disruptive outrage-bait.

Boosting local news sure sounds like a good thing. But, as with so many well-intentioned changes to the news feed, it’s easy to see how it could go awry. Specifically, it seems from Facebook’s announcement that it’s combining content from local publishers with local news. Those things are related, but they aren’t the same—and boosting one won’t automatically boost the other.

So one thing that’s not clear is what Facebook will deem as local “news”. Would that include blog articles or press releases from local companies? Only time will tell once this new home feed algorithm is in full swing and we start seeing obvious changes.

Content Remains The King

What we do know for sure? Quality content is still king. And now that rings even more true for social, with this new update. Relevant written content makes it easier for Google to crawl your site for search engine optimization purposes. And, it gives you high-quality social media content that you can share as a local expert. Any and all businesses have an opportunity to educate their customers with relevant, useful and shareable content.

PH3 Agency + Brewery is an Orlando marketing agency that crafts digital and creative strategies with immediate and long-term results for their clients.

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