Facebook has decided to go back to its roots and restore their image as a social network for friends and family. Recently, the company revealed that big changes are coming to the platform's famous News Feed–only now, 'news' won't be a part of it as much. Instead, Facebook is using an algorithm that prioritizes displaying content which 'encourages meaningful interactions–mainly from friends and family–over news articles or posts from fan pages.
Facebook's new primary goal among their product team is now geared towards helping users have more meaningful social interactions. While still focused on quality, the new goal puts friends and groups first, unlike the previous approach which displayed relevant content mostly from advertisers and Facebook Pages. Zuckerberg also shared that these changes have been slowly seeping through timelines around the world, and it will take some time before the entire News Feed experience is transformed.
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed this major move and explained the reasoning behind it in a Facebook post. According to him, the platform is becoming too impersonal thanks to the overcrowding of random posts from brands and publishers that take up users' News Feeds, and only serve to collect likes and shares. This influx of branded posts removes the social and personal element Facebook was initially recognized for. Zuckerberg also stated that all this passive consumption of media from publishers and brands 'lowers morale' and prevents us from truly connecting with one another.
Industry members have been calling this move the 'nail in the coffin' for organic Facebook reach. SMBs pages on Facebook can expect lower engagement rates–although this doesn't come as a huge shock, because organic reach on Facebook is known to be exceptionally terrible. In fact, even pages with more than 500,000 likes only reach 2% of their fans organically.
Since timestamps on a post are irrelevant by now, Facebook will begin to prioritize posts by friends and family which encourage positivity, engagement and improve on the user experience. This does not mean that ads will no longer be served at all, but it certainly implies that moving forward, ad space will be limited on a user's News Feed. There's no doubt that advertisers should therefore expect harsher competition for these spots as well as higher bidding rates and overall ad spend.
This is merely another sudden change in the industry we must learn to adapt to as modern marketers. However, know that there is a variety of other Facebook advertising tools at your disposal besides the coveted News Feed. These include Sponsored Messages, In-stream Videos, Audience Network, Right Column, and Instagram Feed/Instagram Stories. By diluting their News Feed from ads and promoted posts, Facebook is inherently telling us there are better ways we can utilize their platform for our brands.
In the last quarter of 2017 Facebook reported an ad revenue of a whopping $10.3 billion. It's clear that Facebook still cares about ads, as they are the platform's main method of making money. Advertisers are urged not to completely scrap their Facebook ad campaigns, but to pay close attention to their performance in the following months and note down any significant changes in KPIs.