Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly emphasized that he cares more about Facebook users than about the media and advertisers that rely on the social media network he founded to reach their audiences.
At the start of the year, he proved this by reacting to the wishes of users and changing Facebooks’s news feed algorithm to prioritize personal posts over public content. Commercial sites, news sites and political groups will be shown less often, if they appear at all in Facebook’s news feed. Users will soon be able to notice the changes in their own news feed. The Facebook news feed is a constantly refreshing feed of content shared by the user’s friends and the pages the user follows. This change ultimately serves to return to the purpose of social networking, that is, to provide users a platform to connect with others.
Does this change pose a problem for brands that use social media to reach their costumers? Will companies lose buyers because Facebook is no longer an effective advertising channel? How can they still publish native content, such as Facebook videos, that will generate a large number of views? These are questions many marketers asked themselves after Facebook announced the news feed change.
A simple trick makes it possible to avoid the news feed filtering algorithm: Facebook users can select the pages they want to see first thus allowing these posts to appear at the top of their news feed. Otherwise, non-promoted posts will probably be moved out of Facebook’s news feed entirely. Savvy companies and news media were quick to show their followers how they can continue to see their posts.
Does this mean that Facebook’s newest change is not as bad as it seems? Marketers, agencies and social media strategists can expect more work but the news feed algorithm change will also lead to more user-friendly and quality content. Get your message through and it will carry further and be more valuable than in the past. Facebook aims to increase the number of discussions and comments. Boosting interactions is a good way to still make native content appear in news feeds. Therefore, social media experts face the challenge of having to create content that stimulates users to comment or share the post as they cannot just rely on their followers to change their news feed settings in order to still see their posts.
For Facebook users who use the platform for the purpose for which it was originally created – to make the world more open and connected – Facebook’s news feed change certainly sounds like a good thing. They are no longer being flooded with ads and will only see the most relevant stories. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the time people spend on Facebook will go down but he expects this time to also be more valuable in the future. Users who use Facebook as a news source to stay up to date on the latest have to become more active to make their Facebook time as valuable. They have to hand-select the media feed they want to receive (which is not difficult) or hope that the pages they are interested in, have an experienced social media team that knows how to maximize reach and interactions.
In sum, neither users nor advertisers have to be negatively affected by the news feed algorithm change. The change is however coupled with an increased workload and know-how requisites for the social media experts and agencies.