The amount of time people spend on Facebook is about to change. At least that is the expectation after an announcement from Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook is set to change how it presents news in the feed. Facebook has responded to growing criticism by announcing that it would prioritize content shared by a users friends and family while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. The shift is only the most recent change to News Feed but is likely to be the most significant overhaul in years. The good news is that Vende has been monitoring this for a while and is still the best way for businesses to reach their audience on Facebook.
The kinds of posts and videos that Facebook’s over 2 billion members will see most often is getting an overhaul. Over the next few weeks users will begin to see fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies and instead will see more posts that friends have interacted with. The News Feed changes are intended to maximize content that the platform sees as “meaningful interaction.”
Facebook announced that they have been closely studying what kinds of posts had stressed or harmed users, many of this content being deemed “passive content.” These videos and articles that users would sit back and watch or read, but not interact with. Facebook now wants to reduce the amount of this “passive content” that is seen by users. Instead, the social media giant wants “to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people.” This ‘good for people’ content is content that encourages interaction.
A Tool For Good
Facebook is getting back to its roots, making your News Feed more about what your friends are thinking rather than articles they have shared. The overarching goal for Facebook seems to be one that is unquantifiable, they want users to feel positive, rather than negative, after visiting the platform. And they want to make sure that users’ time on the site is well spent. When people are engaging with those they are close to it is a more fulfilling interaction, which makes it good for your well-being.
While Facebook has previously announced changes that would prioritize personal posts above public posts, this latest change will prioritize posts that have generated substantive interactions. Meaning a long comment on a family member’s photo might be highlighted in above video that has fewer interactions.
2017 was a tough year for Facebook with fake news scandals and a platform brimming with clickbait. The new algorithm may or may not change that. People may end up seeing more content that reinforces their own ideologies if they end up frequently interacting with posts that reflect the similar views of their friends or family. And fake news may still spread if a friend or relative posts a link to an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on.
In response, Facebook has conducted research and worked with outside academics to examine the effects that its service has on people. Last week Zuckerberg posted on Facebook that one of his goals for 2018 included “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” He later said that “just because a tool can be used for good and bad, that doesn’t make the tool bad — it just means you need to understand what the negative is so that you can mitigate it.”
The impact of Facebook’s new News Feed changes will be felt most by publishers, nonprofits, small businesses, and many other groups who rely on the social network to reach people. Facebook has acknowledged that “there will be anxiety” from partners and publishers who struggle with the constant changes in what will be shown across the network.
There is also a chance that the change may work against Facebook’s business interests. Zuckerberg warned investors at the end of last year that combating fake news would hurt the firm’s bottom line. Recently Facebook has been pushing users to spend more time on the social network. With users seeing different, less viral, types of content people could end up spending their time somewhere else. Zuckerberg stated that if people end up feeling better about using Facebook, the company will benefit in the long-term.
Changes to Facebook’s News Feed are not new. Businesses know that the company constantly experiments with what shows up in the News Feed. The key for marketers will be to facilitate meaningful interactions between people rather than the previous focus of providing the most meaningful content. While some might be panicking that Facebook is set to change how it presents news in the feed, Vende has been monitoring News Feed changes for a while. Vende Digital will continue to help businesses to reach their audience the best way possible, by boosting posts and running ads.