Ever since Facebook first launched, it has undergone a metamorphosis. At one stage, it was a simple and easy-going website that was fairly limited in features but heavy on personal data. Today, it’s one of the most sought-after and successful marketing and campaign building platforms on the planet. Some even believe it has the power to decide elections.
However, one of the biggest changes to Facebook over the years has been the use of the news feed. This is where you see all of your news, as the name suggests. Some find that it can be too algorithmic, and that important messages are missed entirely if they are not on at the right time. Others find it to be too forced and promotional, too.
The new explore feed at the moment is built to help people find pages they do not already follow, and is currently available in Canada, Cambodia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Slovakia, Guatemala and Bolivia. These six countries show a potential precedent for partitioning how we find information on Facebook.
UPDATE: The new needs feed is now being tested in Canada as well.
What it means for marketers
Since these latest changes help people to decide if they want to have personal or public content, marketers are naturally worried. As part of the new test, marketers will find that it’s going to be much harder to be seen on some pages.
While it has the opportunity to hide all non-paid posts, which would be excellent for marketers, it can also hide all ‘news’ content. This would allow people to go back to the old way of only having the content that their friends and loved ones post.
Naturally, marketers aren’t wild about this idea. By reducing all published content to the “explore feed” instead, marketers and news organizations fear that they will be completely marginalized by these new changes.
Another major change of this potentially new opportunity for Facebook’ news feed changes is that many news sites are being lumped in with less than savory content. Naturally, this will make it much harder to be seen when it’s mixed in with news content. For those who promote on Facboook through news and volume rather than paid-for promotional posts, this could be a big issue.
While Facebook’s Adam Mosseri – head of the news feed – said that the aim was to find an “easier way to see posts from friends and family” many people feel uneasy about the change from a marketing perspective. One of the easiest to market and promote through social media channels is becoming a whole lot harder to utilize.
With promoted content still appearing in the normal way, though – at least at present – marketers should not have too much to worry about. For those who are marketing through news, not paid-for promotions, though, it has just become a lot harder to be visible in some locations. Given that the present change could be about to become commonplace across the board, that poses an interesting dilemma for Facebook marketers.
What it means for consumers
This is broadly a consumer change. This latest adjustment from Facebook means that people who were sick of seeing promotional content, political party broadcasts and marketing content appear in with the posts of friends and family can get back to using Facebook for what they intended.
It does, though, reduce the chance of seeing new information unless someone on your social group shares it with you.
For those who use it for information and debate, it might become much easier to miss key stories this way (or key trolling time). Some fear this could be used to dilute or destroy democratic information and discussion on Facebook, while others are just happy to only have posts back that they want to see.
It’s hard to know where this planned change is going to conclude, but one thing is for sure – the new Facebook model, as ever, has caused plenty of controversy.