Facebook News Feed: Prioritising people over brands

Facebook has announced plans to start to prioritise people over brands, publishers and organisations in its News Feed – and the consequences could be costly.

In an announcement on its blog, Facebook said:

Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.

The news has spread fear among publishers in particular as they expect to see a dip in referral traffic from the social networking website, that being a subsequence of their content essentially reaching less people.

In reality, the change was inevitable. Facebook is essentially telling brands and publishers they need to work harder to engage their users. And rightly so. The change reinforces the need for great, shareable content and relinquishes the power of brands and publishers who have for too long enjoyed a reward from click bait dangling.

An important point to make is that Facebook will likely not make this shift across the board. This will fall back down to organic reach from Pages, and not reflect in advertising on the platform. Publishers typically don’t pay to reach their Facebook audience, given they don’t set often need to, but this shift will in some cases force them to.

Shareability is a social buzzword but never has it become more important. Facebook added in its post:

Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts. We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.

The fallout will be interesting. But for now, brands must consider, adjust and settle on a consistent strategy that reinforces shareability in their social strategy.

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