It was announced on the 12th January that Facebook will be making massive changes to its iconic news feed over the course of the year; that is, they will be making changes to what you can see of your friend’s posts. Since Facebook is a must-have for even the computer illiterate – I thought I would devise an article detailing these changes and exactly how they could affect you.
At the time of writing this there were already a few posts highlighting this so I hope you find mine just as interesting.
So, what are these changes? Apparently, they are for the better! Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said:
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
In a statement released via the social media site. He then goes on to extrapolate the reasons behind this proposed change and the need for it to go ahead. As he insists, Facebook became a multimedia plethora wherein advertisers could bombard consumers for a small fee, it has grown beyond what it was originally intended to be – and this change is aimed at getting back to basics.
The new Facebook will see less brand promotions, less advertising and more of your family and friend’s posts. Zuckerberg himself says that he has advised his product team to focus less on helping consumers find other relevant content and more on creating meaningful social interactions…but what exactly that entails is still a little bit of a mystery. The company’s founder has also admitted that these changes might mean visitors spend less time on his site, but insists that he is ‘doing the right thing’… Do you agree?
Changes will be rolled out throughout the course of this year, with movements already having been made in the last few months. Facebook are reworking the entire system – but they say that we will begin to see the effects on our news feed first. If you are interested in reading the whole statement, you can read Zuckerberg’s words by following this link.
What are others saying? That it’s not all good news. Firstly, commercially, brands and other advertisers simply won’t have the same amount of Facebook exposure as they did have. Also, there is no way to ensure that the news articles and content that creates the most public social reactions are the most shocking articles, and therefore we might speculate that we will suffer from a drop in quality of news.
Laura Owen, of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, argues that it is impossible to know where the site’s new algorithms will take us. In a statement to the British Broadcasting Corporation she said:
“It’s going to affect publishers a lot, we’re going to be seeing a lot less news organically pop up in our news feeds.”
She also opined that the most controversial topics would breed the most conversation. You can read the whole of the BBC article here. What is clear it seems from this, is that business content must (and should always) be focused around what customers want to engage with – sharing knowledge, positive messages which help and support potential customers and recommendations from friends and family rather than blatant brands ‘selling’ their products and services.
So, besides advertising costs being higher and the importance of a well-managed social media paid campaign increases – we consumers get to look forward to less branded clutter on our news feeds. This is actually a brilliantly designed political move for Facebook, which has been trying to clean up its image since the American elections in 2016, after which it was accused of socially manipulating voters – an accusation to which Russia has since admitted being at the heart of.
It would appear that Russia wanted a Trump victory, and so they used Facebook advertising to emotionally manipulate the general public. Zuckerberg makes a brief allusion to the scandal in his speech when he states how Facebook want to make it harder for potentially threatening countries to access his site. How they plan to do this remains to be seen.
There are other implications too. The accusations of governments the world over about ‘Fake News‘ and its spread on Social Media is a two sided street. Consider how many wars we only know about through social media, consider how many incidents might have been covered up otherwise, and if this has the potential to become a problem in the future. Social media sites alert us to worldwide news that we might not otherwise have heard – and all of this is about to be taken away.
Facebook as a site is no newcomer to controversy and, indeed, it seems that most things founder Mark Zuckerberg does creates waves. From the very origins in 2004 the site was plagued by a lawsuit, as a handful of Harvard Seniors claimed that Zuckerberg had stolen their idea. The case was thrown out of court and then passed over a second time by a different judge, and so apparently holds no weight. However, with the damage to his reputation already done it now appears that anything the founder says in public is taken with a pinch of salt.
This latest move seems a politically motivated act; cleaning up the site to revert back to the family friendly public image that the site was aiming for back in the good old days.
So, if you are one of the 2.07 billion monthly active Facebook users then fear not! Changes will be minimal and aimed at increasing your social experience and making your time on Facebook a more valuable one… Even if it does mean that you won’t spend so long on the site.
For further reading on these new changes and how they might affect you, you can visit the Guardian’s page here. For the foreseeable future most of the news about these differences will be pure speculation but, until we have more accurate news, we will be following the story with an ear to the ground.
Don’t forget, if you do not currently utilise social media marketing, lack a strategy or do not understand how you can still use these valuable channels to market and grow your business, either organically or via paid ads then please get in touch with our team who will be more than happy to help.