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How businesses could be impacted by Facebook’s news ban

Despite all the talk about how the media landscape is ‘evolving’, few of us could have imagined a development as rapid as Facebook’s decision last week to pull all news content from Australian users. 

Millions of Australians get their news from Facebook. However, for business, the impact is going to extend beyond losing the convenience of scrolling your feed and seeing the odd news update. Digital PR tactics rely on earned media that is then shared across your owned channels to increase reach, credibility, and brand awareness.

So from a PR standpoint, what can we take away from the development, and how will businesses need to pivot?

Firstly, don’t panic.

As you might have noticed, growing a following organically on Facebook can be difficult, with engagement often limited to friends and family. Why? Because many of us don’t follow hashtags on this platform – not like on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. This can make it hard for brands to reach new audiences.

Additionally, if you work in professional services, it’s likely you see more traction on published content through LinkedIn. Brimming with professionals from all industries, your brand’s content might be more aligned with this platform.

As the go-to social platform for the news, what developments could we start to see following Facebook’s decision?

Well, one thing is certain: people will still want the convenience of accessing news on social media. If not on Facebook, this opens up opportunities for other social platforms – particularly Twitter and Reddit.

Personally, I see Twitter as the strongest contender. Many journalists are already active on the platform, making the transition a relatively simple one. This could also lead to two other outcomes: users choosing to follow their favourite journalist (as opposed to their favourite news outlet), and an increase in direct interactions between the two.

This, in turn, could give rise to the freelancer.

Another thought might be Instagram. However, as a Facebook-owned company, there could be potential for it to also lose its news-outlet privileges. The inability to add embedded links in captions is another barrier, making it hard for users to click the link and quickly navigate to the original article.

As a business, what should you do now?

Obviously, you need to amplify your brand on every other social media used by your target audience. If you want to build brand awareness and reputation, the importance of news article features has not changed. You just need to circulate it through other means.

Think: what social platform will your target audience be using to access news? Then, how can you get your brand on that platform, and on their screen?

We are actively encouraging clients to continue sharing on Instagram, but also increase focus on LinkedIn and Twitter. This will be frustrating for brands to hear, with many having just finalised their social media strategies for 2021. However, you need to ensure visibility and reach, and be active wherever your audience is.

If not already, make sure all article links are embedded on your website. The important thing is you are consistent in demonstrating credibility and authority within your niche.

Finally, support online journalism however you are able. We have seen in recent years substantial changes to the industry, from reduced print newspapers to newsroom closures. This decision will be another blow. While, as always, their operations will adapt, use your own resources to support the industry where possible.

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Sophie Richardson

Sophie Richardson

Sophie Richardson is an Account Executive at POPCOM, a Sydney-based communications agency that specialises in PR and marketing. Sophie works alongside clients to get their brand stories heard - by the right audience. You can contact her on <a href="mailto:sophie@popcom.com.au">sophie@popcom.com.au</a>., or for more information visit <a href="https://www.popcom.com.au" rel="noreferrer noopener">www.popcom.com.au</a>.

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