In early January, Facebook announced that user’s news feeds will begin to show fewer news articles and advertisements. In place of news and ads, users will begin seeing more posts from family and friends. This is a major change for Facebook, who has shifted from being a social networking service to being one of the biggest distributors of news and online ads. Maybe this will be a major change for me too; I will now be exposed to fewer cooking videos that (falsely) convince me I have culinary competence and growing hunger pangs at Midnight.
Facebook found that it is harmful for users to lack interaction by reading articles and watching videos. Their internal research and outside studies have concluded that people are generally happier and have a better well-being when using social media to connect with those they care about. In all seriousness, I could live happily-ever-after without additional social exposure to my most of my family members. Those of us who still want to see posts from their favorite brands and trusted publishers will still be able to. The options under the News Feed tab on Facebook will allow users to prioritize the pages and friends whose posts they are most interested in viewing. This is still not reassuring for businesses, because it is not often that people adjust their settings to contain more advertisements.
Some people see these changes as a delayed response to the controversies of fake news and spread of misinformation Facebook that sprung during the presidential election of 2016. The truth is, an overwhelming number of people are receiving their world news through Facebook, who is ultimately receiving the blame when articles contains false or misleading content. Reducing the amount of news on Facebook will lessen the risk of fake news controversy, but it is certain to also reduce the amount of time people spend on the social media outlet.
Adam Mosseri, the head of the News Feed team at Facebook, wrote a blog post following the announcement of the changes. Mosseri explained that posts from people you know will rise to the top using an algorithm that takes into account likes, comments and shares, determining who you are most interested in seeing on your news feed. In other words, if you don’t want to see another picture of your co-workers cats, don’t like, comment or share, just keep scrolling. Is this what people really want? Revamping the content on Facebook could ruin the popularity and revert the social media site back to the early 2000’s.
Even Mark Zuckerberg himself said that the company expects many users will gravitate to alternate sites to get their viral fix that Facebook is trying to eliminate. Businesses and advertisers should stay tuned to the possibility of Facebook users migrating to a new site to receive news updates and the latest trending videos. Perhaps the advertisers won’t move far, Instagram appears to be the attractive alternative to its owner, Facebook.
Instagram provides advertising on a highly visual format where branded content can come across less intrusive and more natural. Instagram ads are quick videos and pictures that easily blend in with your best friend’s vacation photos. Instagram encourages engagement that is positive in comparison to posts on Facebook that commonly generate a broader scope of reactions and comments. The downfall lies in the number of users and potential impressions, because Instagram currently generates just a fraction of Facebook’s ad revenue and account holders.
So what are advertisers gaining from the adjustment in Facebook’s news feed algorithm? Nothing more than a headache and a new advertising mystery to crack.
At this point in time, any adjustments to your marketing plan on Facebook would be premature. The facts will speak for themselves, but until then there are not changes to be made without proof that Facebook advertisements are returning a decreased number of impressions. As always, keep a close watch on possible changes in the metrics of your campaign. The importance of data analytics and response to changes is the best way to handle Facebook’s latest announcement. So while the organic side of Facebook may be getting a make over, the paid side isn't changing... yet!