What You Need to Know About Facebook’s News Feed Changes

Mark Zuckerberg posted Thursday that Facebook is once again shifting how users will see organic content posted by publishers and brands. Facebook will, in essence, deprioritize organic content posted by publishers and brands in the News Feed in favor of content from friends and families.

It’s interesting this announcement has caused such an uproar in the marketing industry because this isn’t an entirely new development.

Facebook’s Prior Shifts Away From Business’ Organic Posts

In November 2014, Facebook announced a major update to how their newsfeed shows content from Page Posts, and traffic from organic Page Posts has declined steadily since that update. According to analysis from social media agency Social@Ogilvy, for Facebook pages with more than 500,000 likes, the average organic post was only likely to reach 2% of their fans.

Facebook’s research into the 2014 change revealed an ironic twist: “What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they “like”, rather than ads.” Facebook went on to say, “News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and the quality of those ads, but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional Page posts. Now (2014) we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts.”

This past November, Facebook shifted yet again how posts from publishers and businesses are seen in comparison to how content from friends and paid ads is seen. This change tested filtering organic posts from publishers and businesses into the separate Explore feed.

How This Change Will Affect Businesses

The November 2017 test not only favored content from friends and family, it further emphasized paid campaigns as an integral strategy in reaching Facebook users. Facebook is essentially telling businesses that if they want consumers to see their organic post content, businesses will have to pay to boost posts, or create effective Facebook Ads instead. That is, unless the business’ organic content is highly engaging without resorting to engagement-bait posts, or their Facebook Page followers adjust their settings to “See First in News Feed”, which for most brands is not very likely to happen.

For users, these changes do point toward an effort by Facebook to place higher value on content from friends and family. For businesses and marketers, the changes point toward a more competitive advertising environment that, due to increasing demand for decreasing inventory, rewards higher-paying advertisers and sophisticated ad campaigns with more accurate targeting capabilities.

Paid Facebook Campaigns A Priority

For Location3, seeing this trend unwind is, in part, why we’ve made franchise system paid Facebook campaigns a priority in our LOCALACT franchise marketing platform. Facebook has the largest social audience with Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat closest behind them, and Facebook’s Stories cloning has all but killed the growth for Snapchat users posting Stories. 

The market doesn’t seem to know what to make of it though, because it seems investors are taking it as a sign that Facebook will lose market share and revenue due to the anticipated decline in time spent on Facebook with less publisher and brand content to consume in the main News Feed.

That perhaps comes from Zuckerberg’s statement that this change will decrease engagement:

“Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

Final Thoughts

This announcement from Facebook is an extension of its strategy from the past three years. To me, this is a “buy” signal for Facebook, as each iterative change in the deprioritization of organic post content from businesses has made Facebook paid ads all that more impactful and necessary for businesses to allocate ad funds toward. We recommend that businesses use their Facebook marketing budget to capture leads and conversions as opposed to just fans and likes. That’s because in addition to securing space on users’ News Feeds, Facebook Ads create customers.

From our point of view at Location3, Zuck knows what he’s doing, and although this seems like an altruistic move shouting in the face of profits and investors, it will actually drive more revenue for Facebook. Plus, if users feel they are being inundated by promotional content they will be more motivated to flee the platform. Therefore, the change has dual impact, it makes users more sticky by giving them a better, more relevant, experience on the platform, and also leads to increases in ad revenues. Everybody wins, except marketing budgets perhaps.

For Facebook’s overview on how exactly this change impacts ranking for organic post content, see their official statement here.


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