{Forbes Featured Post} Breaking Down Facebook's Decision To Squeeze Out Business Page Posts | 180fusion


The Facebook News Feed is about to change dramatically. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the algorithm will now show preference to personal posts from a user’s friends and family, meaning those posts will rank higher and more frequently. Public posts (such as those from brands, businesses and media) will be demoted, so organic content will now be displayed less often and lower down in the News Feed regardless of engagement. Let’s look at the rationale behind the move and how it may affect businesses.

Marketing Channel Or Social Network?

Facebook has proved a popular marketing platform for businesses who are keen to capture the attention of its two billion users. In the announcement Zuckerberg acknowledged that “public” content had increased, tipping the balance away from friends and family.

“Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other,” Zuckerberg said.

This shift from social network to marketing channel has resulted in Facebook becoming the “go-to” platform for brands and businesses. However, the planned reversal is seemingly intended to encourage more connection and interaction between users. Zuckerberg described it as being designed to “surface relevant content that facilitates meaningful social interactions among your friends and family.”

A Socially Responsible Move?

Facebook has positioned the move as one that’s socially responsible and keeps the interests and well-being of its community at heart. It has emphasized that shifting News Feed content to focus on friends and family will help people feel more connected, which is linked to overall happiness.

“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” Zuckerberg said. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health.”

He also hinted that “passively reading articles or watching videos” may not be as good for users’ health, even if they are informative or entertaining. In fact, numerous research studies in recent years have linked social media usage with feelings of isolation and loneliness.

However, one would be remiss to mention that this News Feed shift won’t just benefit users — it will benefit Facebook’s revenue too. Endless News Feed scrolling doesn’t just swallow users’ time, it also leads them to become passive consumers, and passive consumers don’t click on ads. Although the move has been positioned as socially responsible, there are other obvious financial drivers at work too.

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

For many businesses this won’t be surprising news — they’ve seen something similar before. The latest News Feed update has been likened to the algorithm changes that demoted brand content three years ago. Their organic reach plummeted overnight, forcing brands to pay for ads in order to reach Facebook audiences. While some decided to invest, others opted to diversify their traffic acquisition through content creation plans and other (less costly) channels.

This new algorithm update is likely to give a boost to posts that originate from friends and family. In the past, content rankings were based on user engagement metrics such as likes and click-through rates, but posts from brands and publishers will now be demoted. As it did three years ago, this change is likely to increase demand for Facebook advertising, which will raise ad prices in turn. This will be a blow for organizations that have adopted a “social-first” strategy and rely on Facebook as their primary traffic source.

It may also encourage more businesses to explore other more organic traffic sources like SEO and content marketing. Over-reliance on a single source of traffic is never a good idea — especially when it’s a platform you don’t control. This may be a signal for many that it’s time to diversify and focus on other consistent channels even if they are higher in the sales and marketing funnel.

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