Have you noticed that your Facebook News Feed has changed somewhat in recent times? Where once upon a time you used to be inundated with everything from everybody, these days you are seeing way more promotional posts from businesses trying to get you to buy something. For the average Facebooker, this isn’t ideal and makes for a less than perfect user-friendly experience.
If you cast your minds back to the early days of Facebook, creator Mark Zuckerberg was increasingly reluctant to put ads on to the site at all and claimed to be less interested in making money and more interested in making users happy. Very commendable. But with pressure being applied from every angle (as depicted by the film The Social Network) the ad-free days didn’t last long.
Since then, and before anybody really knew the potential and value of the social media platform, Facebook has and continues to make plenty of rule changes that affects users. Probably the most significant of these is the evolution of the news feed. If you were previously unaware – we hate to break it to you – but Zuckerberg and co have been filtering what you do and don’t see for years (they make no secret of this). But these changes are all geared to making Facebook as effective as possible for individuals as well as businesses.
The latest development – which is to be introduced in 2015 – is that the company promises users will see fewer of these ‘promotional’ posts from businesses in their news feeds. They say this is just one in a series of new measures the platform has taken to ensure News Feeds don't get overloaded with useless content. In a statement they said,
“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”
According to Facebook, this promotional content won’t refer to advertisements, but from pages that individuals have liked. So if you – as a Facebook admin of a page – continue to post solely about buying products, pushing promotions or sweepstakes or installing apps, with ‘no real context’ you can expect the social networking service to penalise you.
This means that for us Social Media Managers, we have to be smarter about what we do. Of course, it is in Facebook’s interests to keep users as engaged as possible so they don’t lose interest in the site and they are hoping this development will do just that. So how can your business successfully run a Facebook page, which meets this new criterion? The key is to be as engaging as possible!
"Businesses should think about their page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply a publishing service," Facebook commented. "The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their page."
As legend goes, when Zuckerberg first brought on Mike Murphy as Facebook's ad sales man way back in 2006 (just 2 years after the social network launched) he said, "I don't hate all advertising. I just hate advertising that stinks." Since then, because of the site’s popularity in the business world, the Facebook team appear to have made it their mission to make ads more engaging and sophisticated and this new change clearly personifies this attitude.