On 11th January 2017, Mark Zuckerberg took to his own social media platform to tell us all about the Facebook changes in newsfeed content he’ll implement this year.
Opening with ‘One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent,’ he set the stall for the overhaul announcement.
With Facebook originally being created to connect college students to each other, the days of simple comments and statuses are long gone. They’ve been replaced with viral videos, promotional posts and, for some brands, campaigns dedicated to driving more traffic to their sites.
And, according to Zuckerberg, users aren’t happy:
‘Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.’
The ‘major change’ will focus more on connecting people and less on public content. Zuckerberg wants to go back to his original goal of helping ‘people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us’. He goes on to say, ‘Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.’
Dedicated to making Facebook a happier place to be, Zuckerberg expresses that connecting with people we care about on social media can be ‘good for our well-being’, while ‘passively reading articles or watching videos… may not be as good.’
Read more about Sleep Matters Club in Dreams’ case study.
It’s unlikely that things will change drastically overnight, but gradual tweaks will make your newsfeed more friend-focused.
‘The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.’
‘As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.’
It seems his main focus is taking a step away from ‘faceless’, viral content and celebrating content which has genuine engagement, rather than just comments full of tagged friends.
And that’s about as much as we know for now.
What does it mean for brands?
Zuckerberg has admitted that he expects engagement levels to dwindle with the new implementations. However, he says he believes the change will encourage valuable time spent on Facebook which will lead to long-term business improvements.
Yet, it’s unclear exactly what will happen for brands who’ve invested heavily into promoting on Facebook alone.
A recent trial in six countries including Slovakia and Sri Lanka split the Facebook newsfeed into two parts – one for friends and family updates and one for brand posts.
In their post about the updates, The Telegraph said ‘it triggered complaints that media companies saw traffic to their sites via Facebook drop by as much as 80 per cent.
‘If adopted worldwide, such a move could have had a major impact on news websites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post which have focused on getting clicks through Facebook.’
We don’t know the exact measure of the consequences, but it’s a stark reminder that social media is rented land and you are constantly subjected to their whims.
Read more on Good Vibes.
How can you avoid a negative impact?
If you haven’t started already, we recommend creating content that sits on your site rather than the rented land of social platforms, meaning that you gain organic traffic for as long as the content ranks without having to pay for each visit. This is typically done through digital magazines or education centres, which we are pretty damn good at creating.
Speak to us about content creation if you’d like to know how to get an owned audience.