POV: Facebook Newsfeed Update

Mindshare Point of View: Facebook is once again changing its newsfeed algorithm, which will alter what content users see from brand pages via organic distribution.  This update will give less prominence to certain types of promotional organic page posts deemed as diluting users’ newsfeeds. The change, like others, is being made in order maintain the relevancy of the newsfeed to the user.

Details and Implications

Facebook has maintained a “user experience first” approach to developing its platform. Repeat users give the social network its intrinsic value, so maintaining a high user experience is always of paramount importance. The newsfeed is a crucial component of Facebook, and its content is intended to be a mix of the best and most relevant content from the user’s family, friends and brands that they follow. Many brands have a negative effect on the quality of organic newsfeed stories, with low relevance to the user and overly “promotional” tone to their message.  Key examples of such organic posts include:

  1. Posts that overtly sell a product or constantly ask for a download of a non-relevant app to the user.
  2. Competitions and sweepstakes posts with low relevance to the user.
  3. Posts that employ the same messaging used in the brand’s advertising.

From 1st January 2015 Facebook will be implementing changes to its algorithm, which will see poorer quality content from brand pages being given a less “free” newsfeed distribution and more attention being given to brand pages and posts that feature creative of a more appealing nature to users. Generally brand pages have a quality score that is extrapolated from user feedback to their posts. Positive feedback indicated by good engagements such as likes, comments and shares in contrast to negative, which is denoted by complaints. Once the new algorithm is imposed, users will be exposed to significantly less organic content from brand pages, with the chosen few being of a superior caliber and of  higher relevancy to the user.

Facebook’s exponential growth over the last few years has brought its own set of challenges. With users being inundated with a vast sea of content, both good and bad, which could be perceived as eroding their product.  This proposed update has seen Facebook taking a significant step in improving the usability of the platform from its users’ perspective in order to maintain high user retention as well as reach across all demographics and its position as the premier player within social media.

Summary/ POV

The proposed changes by Facebook are certainly a sign that the platform is serious about sustaining their growth and momentum in the social media space. The impending changes seemingly follow on from the stricter guidelines imposed by Facebook in November of this year, prohibiting brands from forcing users to “like” their page to receive incentives (e.g., “like-gating”). Starting in January, brands and advertisers will face even greater pressure to create better content than ever before in order to organically enter a user’s newsfeed. In fact, less but better content may be the new norm. Alternatively, marketers can simply spend more media budget with Facebook to buy their way into a newsfeed. In the end, this most recent change continues Facebook’s transformation from a PC-based single-brand social media network into a multi-brand mobile application ecosystem with massive paid media reach possibilities.