Last week Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement, one that is likely to have very big ramifications for any business that uses Facebook as a way to reach more customers. It was such a big announcement that Facebook’s stock took a big dive as investors tried to get their heads around what it meant for the social media behemoth. The plan is simple - make our social media feeds more about our friends and family.
The driving force behind the change is Facebook’s desire to bring back more meaningful social interactions to the platform. Over the past couple of years (and particularly through the American election), Zuckerberg has faced increasing complaints that Facebook was causing more social harm than it did good. Besides social media addiction, the platform’s algorithm was mainly serving us up content that confirmed our previously held viewpoints. That wasn’t what Facebook was created to do, and with this latest announcement, they are trying to make our newsfeed far more positive and personal to our actual daily lives.
But what does it mean to businesses? Well, that’s the bad news. Because the newsfeed will be shifting from a focus on ‘topics’ and ‘relevant content’ to ‘meaningful social interactions’, it’s highly likely that a business page’s organic reach will decrease. We believe the emphasis will become less about topics and engagement on page posts, and more about how those posts are shared amongst your friend group. So where currently, if someone who likes cars likes a post, the post might get shown to someone else random who likes cars, in the future, it’ll be more about those posts being shared amongst friend groups. The organic Facebook game definitely just got harder for businesses.
The bigger unknown will be how this newsfeed change affects sponsored content/advertising on the platform. Given Facebook will want to stay profitable, it seems likely that where companies could get great organic reach previously, now they may need to focus their efforts into paid advertising and sponsored posts. The hardest thing to pinpoint right now is how those sponsored posts will be displayed. Will they stick to the ‘relevant content’ policy, or will there also be an element of the new ‘social engagement’ approach applied to the advertising as well?
As the change rolls out we’ll be keeping a close eye on it, but it’s fair to say that this is a major shift in the online advertising world. By making this change now Facebook hopes to become more relevant and important to it’s users – which may mean that it becomes a more powerful tool for advertisers…or it could mean a huge hit for business engagement. At the end of the day it’s businesses that pay the salaries at Facebook, so our view is that businesses natural reach will drop, but their advertising reach will stay steady…but let's just watch this space.
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The founder of 543 Design & Online gives his thoughts on everything web and branding.
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