To paraphrase Darwin, it is not the strongest company that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.
The new Facebook guidelines for publishers caused a lot of fuzz in the virtual world. It was also dubbed as the media companies guillotine or the new traffic cutting Facebook update. The new News Feed algorithms will de-prioritize content published by brands and businesses in favor of that produced by friends and family, says Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
For many personal users it’s a very much welcomed relief from unsolicited content, while media companies tremble in fear of losing visibility, and therefore also profit. This major overhaul however does not necessarily spell doom for media barons nor small businesses. According to media experts, the key is adapting your communicative strategies to the new guidelines, meaning no more click baits, sensationalism, scandal-mongering or cheap exaggerations.
Facebook’s quest for more ‘meaningful social interactions’ means that content producers will have to find different kinds engagements with desired audiences. According to social media experts, the online competition of Expeditie Robinson might be a good example. Alluding to the probably most famous shipwreck, the show gives Facebook users the opportunity to influence the tides of fate of marooned contestants facing various physical challenges in a reality TV program. In addition, followers can also have online conversations via ‘Facebook Live’ with the last year’s winner.
Being part of the show creates and highlights a strong sense of individuality and emotionality. Particular people with their own unique personalities become a spotlight of the show, broadcasting their voice to wider audiences including family and friends, by which the show ultimately increases its reach through the system of notifications.
Such engagements of course bring a lot of different people into a fan community – a small island of togetherness in the sea of superdiversity in the digital discourse. The show’s Facebook page then becomes a platform where engagement means not only an access to and influence over relevant content, but also establishing meaningful connections between people who have probably never met. A commercial hit just in line with Facebook’s ideology. The reponses of these social media experts are of course proof of the dominance of Facebook in the field of media.
Media companies have to ask how they can adjust their content production and distribution in order to work effectively with the new algorithm while keeping it interesting for consumers as it was before. Moreover, they have to think of new ways to transform passive consumers into active producers. After all, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”. So perhaps for some it would be better to invest energy into adapting rather than complaining.