Facebook announced this week changes that will take place in the way it curates newsfeeds for its 1.65 billion global users. The changes come on the heels of a user survey that found dissatisfaction about the promotional nature of some posts. In its official statement, Facebook was quick to clarify that this displeasure does not include ads. Rather, the user dissatisfaction stems from organic posts that are, to summarize, too commercially pushy.
No doubt, Facebook’s decision will create some winners, some losers – and will force companies to make better editorial decisions in the way they use Facebook to promote their interests.
Following is our quick breakdown of how we see the impact of the changes to Facebook’s algorithm.
- Sponsored Posts – We predict minimal impact. Companies that are paying to break through the clutter will continue to get their money’s worth, and over-time may even benefit if the changes to the algorithm mean that users become more engaged. Facebook was very quick to say that ads are not the problem as they are already factored into the algorithm – and instead laid the blame on unartful content.
- Non-sponsored Posts – This is where Facebook’s change will put a dent in the efforts of some businesses to market their products and services. This is particularly true for companies that are not investing in good storytelling and content. However, in general, it seems that non-sponsored content coming from anyone other than family and friends will find it challenging to break through. This is why we believe content developers and story-tellers can win – but truly stellar content will be required.
- The overall user experience – This may be subjective. But we think users win. Ultimately, Facebook is making these changes to keep their users happy. Companies have the resources to churn out prolific amounts of content. Most people do not. So we see this change as bringing balance back to Facebook, and giving users a better mix of content in the end. What Facebook is doing is not so different from what news publishers have done for decades. It’s all about finding the right balance between editorial and advertising. For decades, print media used ratios to balance their content, often 70:30 in favor of editorial. What Facebook is doing basically amounts to the same thing as no one wants to engage with overly commercial content all the time..
- Media companies – The reviews from traditional media companies and publishers are downcast. News organizations that have embraced Facebook, and enlisted its instant articles feature, seem to be the losers. Prior to this change, news organizations were able to push high volumes of content to their followers. Now there are questions about how these articles will break into the news feed. It seems clear that this change will impact the way some media companies interact with Facebook. It will also impact those users who place a high value upon having instant articles in newsfeeds.
The bottom line is that Facebook remains the most powerful media company and channel in much of the world, and they are making these changes to help ensure they stay on top. Ultimately, Facebook is making these changes to keep users happy, and happy users are good for companies that use Facebook for social marketing. But businesses will need to work harder to make stellar content to break through, and to avoid the pushy, commercially-focused, self-centered coonent that forced Facebook to change the algorithm in the first place.