Mark Zuckerberg sensationally announced changes to Facebook’s news feed and the algorithm at the beginning of 2018. These changes have already been implemented and will continue over the coming weeks and months. But the big question is – how will the Facebook news feed changes affect businesses and brands?
What are the major Facebook News Feed changes?
The major changes for Facebook that Zuckerberg has announced are:
- Facebook users will see less public content from businesses, brands and media.
- Facebook users will see more content from friends, family and groups.
- Facebook users will have more meaningful social interactions.
- There will be an algorithm change to the non-promoted news feed.
- There will be fewer news articles and less advertising content and ads.
What’s the reason for the news feed changes?
The reasons behind these changes are to make sure that the time Facebook users spend on Facebook, is time well spent. Facebook was originally built to help people stay connected and bring everybody together. Recently, the news feed had become so saturated with posts from businesses, brands and media, including paid media and ads, that it was ‘crowding out the personal moments’ that led Facebook users to connect more with each other. So, the changes taking place are in a bid for Facebook to return to its roots – set up as a social network for friends and family to connect and share memories.
How will brands and businesses be affected?
This, however, will have a massive impact on brands and means they will have to make big changes on how to promote themselves online, as Facebook offers businesses great power. The Guardian newspaper says that: ‘the organisations that will be the most damaged will be those who rely most on Facebook to generate traffic; organisations with a dedicated base and control of their own platforms will find it easier to ride out the change.’
What should brands and businesses do?
What brands and businesses should do as a result of these changes is to not only focus on videos and live stories, but encourage fans and followers to add their Facebook pages to Facebook’s ‘See First’ features. Businesses may actually end up buying more online ads on Facebook to promote themselves. Organic social posting is also in decline because simply creating content and attempting to share it on the news feed for free will no longer work as well as it once did. Instagram, despite being owned by Facebook, will not be affected by the changes, so businesses could re-focus their marketing efforts on that platform instead.
What do those in the industry have to say?
Mark Tillison, Managing Director and Founder of Tillison Consulting, gives his opinion on the subject here: ‘‘Reading between the lines, my guess would be that this is mainly political. Facebook has been criticised, they want to be seen to be addressing it. They haven’t quantified how much less advertising will be on Facebook news feeds, only that it will be more focused on personal connections. They have shareholders and a stock price to answer to, so it’s doubtful that they’ll be looking to reduce ad revenue. My expectation is that they’ll tighten up on the algorithm for ads so that those with low engagement (less interesting/beneficial) get less airtime more quickly. Furthermore, they might reduce the percentage of ads versus personal content slightly, but I wouldn’t have thought by much. That also means that the engagement level is more important than the CPC, so targeting and the content itself becomes much more important. Facebook will self-optimise the targeting, depending on the targeting settings, of course.’’
GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group, say that this change will definitely be challenging for businesses to navigate over the next few months, it’ll likely have greater impact on publishers than brands, as ‘brands have more flexibility to reach audiences in different ways and often have less reliance on Facebook as an organic reach driver, than publishers.’
The changes to the Facebook news feeds have only just started being rolled out and will take a while before it is fully implemented. Time will tell how businesses and brands will deal with this impact.