The buzz is real. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on January 11, right in the middle of CES festivities that they will be making changes to the News Feed algorithm. He characterized the shift as “focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

We applaud the concept and its global intent to make the platform a more positive, meaningful and useful place for its users. The question is, does it punish businesses and brands who have used the platform to connect positively with their customers? Will this diminish the potential for companies to get in front of their customers in a way that a storefront or paid search cannot? The answer is yes, but to the extent it removes Facebook as a useful marketing platform is not yet clear.

The Mad Fish team has had a couple of internal huddles about Facebook’s announcement. While we are uncertain about the long-term impact (the data will tell shortly as the details take effect), we also expected the change. If brands have been following best practices, the impact will be far less than those that have been less strategic in their work.

Here are our early thoughts on the future and opportunities here:

It’s more important than ever to post information and ideas that prompt discussion and interest.

Engaging content continues to be the key. Posting self-promotional content without a hook to engage your customers in the discussion, share their reaction or prompt an action is just noise Facebook will deem irrelevant to building relationships.

If you have an enthusiastic client-base already, you are sitting pretty.

Clients that have a healthy, engaged group of followers excited by new content will see far less of an impact on their platform metrics and click-through rate. They should continue to do the same things, get inventive and keep content fresh to ensure that they get excited when they see something new, even if they see it 30% less than they have previously

If you are trying to build up that group of engaged followers, you may have a slow road.

Organically finding new clients and followers is going to be more difficult. Off-page tactics for getting Facebook engagement will become more important. For many, a paid campaign to drive page likes or content engagement may be the best option. Then the engaging, interactive content must follow to keep them onboard.

Companies should brace themselves for a reduction in Facebook engagement stats.

This will just happen. The announcement is the bellwether here. Facebook has been making this shift in small ways over the last couple of years. This signals a broader launch of the concept. How much will the impact be? We will be watching to see. Companies that have relied heavily on Facebook traffic should prepare to see that decline and look for alternate strategies to keep traffic flowing and awareness high. If you have been doing well with prompting discussion on the page, the impact will be smaller.

Videos and image-based content are imperative.

Visual content generally gets more engagement and discussion. Creating events or writing opinion pieces will all potentially perform better and garner stronger results.

Paid advertising on Facebook is now a necessity for most.

We saw this coming, right? Reducing the reach of organic posts from business pages means businesses will need to pay to have their brand, promotions and content seen by Facebook users. More analysis and decisions will need to be made by strategists about whether the cost to participate on Facebook is worth the return. Is the customer still on the platform, and are they looking to engage with the brand? Asking yourself these strategic questions can save you pain later on.

Diversifying platform usage is vital.

The evolution of the news feed means brands must engage on multiple channels. Using Instagram, LinkedIn, the company’s website messaging and blog, email outreach, and paid search advertising. Creating targeted KPIs, messaging and offers for each audience on each platform is the best way to build the brand’s holistic marketing mix.