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Techsauce: Facebook newsfeed change is a challenge, not a threat5 min read

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Posted date January 22, 2018
Photo by Fancycrave from Pexels

In the aftermath of the bomb being dropped by Mark Zuckerberg to put “meaningful interaction” over newsfeed, a wave of panic has spread throughout the startup community. With most of our community on Facebook, the Techsauce team talks about what this will mean for startups in Southeast Asia.

After CEO Zuckerberg decided to put “meaningful interaction” before newsfeed on Facebook, the social network giant saw an immediate brief drop of almost 6% in its stock price. Investors expressed fear that users will spend less on the service and impact advertising.

Nonprofit Poynter Institute, a journalism institute, the impact of Facebook’s move will hit publishers relying on Facebook as their primary source of traffic. The same will go for those who produce videos as well.

However these groups are moving beyond Facebook to other platforms such as Google News or Apple’s news feed.

In fact critics of Facebook argue that users can easily be trapped in “echo chambers” or “filter bubbles”, which is basically being fed posts from like-minded people, which may then create extreme perspectives such as can be seen in the case of the US election’s “fake news”.

The Techsauce team feels a bit the same way. Here are some answers to some of the most challenging questions a startup needs to consider now.

How much do startups in Southeast Asia depend on Facebook’s newsfeed?

In 2017 it was recorded that over 46 million people in Thailand use Facebook.

It was the platform that businesses would go to to scale up, because Facebook is where people gather and there was higher opportunity to grow. Thais are social people. They love Facebook.

The same goes with people in Southeast Asia. The region actually counts for almost half of the users on Facebook. There is no doubt Zuckerberg’s decision will affect startups.

How will this impact startups using Facebook to promote their products?

Before we over panic about this, one thing that we have to remind ourselves is that Facebook is only one of tons of channels in this digital world.

If you understand the nature of digital marketing, you know there are loads of tools and methods that can help you connect with your target audience. Having your own website is a priority and should always be considered. For those relying on Facebook alone, you may be wrong. This topic is not a new, it has actually been an issue everyone has been talking about. For Techsauce, our website, plays a significant role.

There is uniqueness in each channel, whether it be Youtube or Instagram. You need to understand localization. SMEs often use Facebook because they may find it easier than paying and setting up a website of their own. Many do not only rely on Facebook though, as they do a lot of their business via Instagram and Line. Thailand has Line@ which sells products. Twitter is aggressively growing among the new generation. Google+ is gradually growing in suburban areas because of mobile penetration through Android. Let’s not forget about SEO, search engine optimization. Businesses will probably find more ways to get free, organic, and natural traffic. Meanwhile some industries are not even focused on connecting with their people on social media because it is not necessary.

We’re not saying that Facebook is not important anymore, but isn’t it good to be challenged and seek broader opportunities in other channels?

How has it impacted Techsauce and its network of startups?

As publishers, we cannot deny that it will have an impact. We believe that everyone in the industries has already felt it and is dealing with the algorithm changes.

We recently heard about engagement bait, a tactic to draw users to interact through likes, shares, comments, and other actions to artificially boost engagement and get greater reach on News Feed. (Facebook’s Newsfeed Guidelines) It is something that we should be cautious about. Sometimes it is like spending more to keep the same amount of target audiences. A/B testing (comparing two versions of a website and seeing which one gives you a better conversion rate) really matters. You should try it by yourself as much as possible to know the composition of your audience.

At the end of the day creating quality content is what people are expected to do, but only a few can really do this.

It is showtime. It is time to find out who has it and who doesn’t.

Positioning yourself may be one of solutions. For Techsauce, we have had a strong presence in the startup community. Currently, we believe the right technologies can be applied to the right businesses. We are seeing it happy with SMEs, companies, corporations that are going through a digital transformation.

We believe in having the Right content in the right time. Now we just need to add in the right channel. There’s no cause for panic.

We do what peoples love, but we have to focus in our brand position too. This is what leads you out of the “red oceans”.

Mark Zuckerberg says there will be focus on “meaningful interaction”. Will this change the strategies of startups who use Facebook?

We all are players in Facebook’s game and we have to respect the rules. There should be specific channel available for businesses like Facebook Marketplace. The two words, “meaningful interaction” has already drawn a lot of comments on Facebook. Some express concerns on how Facebook will know what users truly want. Do they want updates from not-so-close relatives and friends or articles related on their community or career? That’s what Facebook needs to work out.

For businesses, it’s not too late to do risk management on your advertising budget.

Key takeaway

Each industry has a different online customer journey. For example hotels and airlines started from Google and OTA (Online Travel Agents like Expedia and Booking.com) such as not Facebook.

You need to understand where your customers start, how they can see your product, and how they can engage with your product.

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