News

POV: Facebook Newsfeed Update Q1 2018

Background:
On the 11th January 2018, Facebook made an announcement overhauling the way it presents publisher content in the news feed to address criticism about the quality of the content shared and so called ‘fake news’.

Implications:

Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook, said: “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses. As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.”
 

The changes, which will roll out over the coming months, will aim to foster more meaningful interactions between people and help Facebook fight back at the criticism it has faced over issues such as the influence over the outcome of the US election.

For users the changes mean more slots on the Newsfeed focusing on real user relationships and “meaningful connections” as defined by Facebook. For publishers, it means less organic reach and traffic over time - this is a notable change as Google has now usurped Facebook as a traffic driver in recent months. Unfortunately, this will mean over time organic reach begins to decline for some smaller publishers and brands who will be deprioritized as the focus shifts towards the 2 billion strong Facebook community.

For brands, it means a flight to improve quality of campaign creative / posts in the Newsfeed, something Facebook has actively encouraged by building an in-house creative team – The Creative Shop.

For publishers, it means further investment in not just quality content and journalism but a shift towards incorporating Facebook’s advertising suite of products into their distribution strategy to improve traffic - they will need to spend more on ads to make up the short fall in organic reach.

Lastly, for the agency community, it will mean a greater focus on fewer, bigger and better campaigns with an explicit focus on quality to maximize impact for clients.
 

Summary:
On the Q3 2017 earnings call CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned investors about future profitability as Facebook staffs up (rooting out fake news and posters) to protect the community from ‘fake news’ and other dangers by adding up to 10,000 more employees by the end of 2018. This latest change to the news feed approach aligns well with that aim, whilst at the same time driving publishers and brands to have to spend more through ads on the platform to maintain reach.

Further reading:

Business Insider / Wall Street Journal