This week Facebook announced that they were planning to make a number of significant changes to their news feed algorithm. These changes are going to specifically promote content that was posted by the friends and family of users, rather than showing things from brand pages and other sources that people have ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ in the past.
Marketers have spent billions of dollars in Facebook ads and countless hours over the past years with the goal of building up their following on the social network. While these changes won’t render that effort completely useless, it is likely going to devalue followers of brands. This will make it far more difficult for brands to reach their audience in the future.
It will certainly come as no surprise to marketers that the one sure way to get their posts in front of their desired audience is going to be paying for ads. Facebook is obviously in the business of making money, and that is great. It does seem more and more like they are manipulating their site specifically to force brands to buy ads, however. There are already a number of things Facebook users can do to minimize the amount of posts from brands and pages in their news feed, if they wanted to.
The update will impact all posts from publishers including links, live videos, photos, text posts and more. This will make it far more difficult for marketers to generate social traffic to their pages, which will undoubtedly have a very negative effect on sales.
The changes are expected to start rolling out this week, though this type of update typically takes at least a week or two to fully roll out to all 1.65 billion monthly users of the social network.
Facebook is, of course, claiming that this change is being made to give users more of what they want. One must question, however, just how accurate that is. Even if users do claim that they want more from friends and family (which is disputable) their actions clearly show otherwise. People follow news sites (like PacedM) because they value the ability to keep up to date with their interests by simply scrolling through their news feed. If people didn’t want to see it, they simply don’t follow or else select the option to have posts from a particular publisher not show up in their news feed.
It is important to note that if an individual shares a post from a brand, that post will still show up in the news feed of the individual’s friends and family. This may make it even more important than ever to encourage followers to share posts publically to help drive traffic.