Over the past year or so, Facebook has made a concerted effort to improve the experience of Facebook users by reducing the amount of marketing spam they get in their News Feed. Starting in January, Facebook will apply new guidelines for promotional pages (i.e. Business Pages) that will decrease the organic reach of content that is deemed too promotional. This article will explain how these new changes will change the way business owners use Facebook to promote their products and services.
“Our goal with News Feed has always been to show people the things they want to see. That’s why we often look to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve,” the company stated in a blog post about the upcoming change. “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.”
Whereas previous Facebook algorithm changes focused on marketing spam or simply reducing the number of posts shown from business pages, these new filters will target pages that Facebook feels is overly using promotional content in their posts.
Facebook hasn’t given specific rules about what they will consider to be overly promotional posts, but they’ve noted three general characteristics that were consistently cited by surveyed Facebook users as traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
The company provided the following two images as examples:
The initial response to these changes have been mixed. Many marketers are understandably upset at losing some of their favorite tactics, while others see the utility in preserving the quality of the News Feed experience for Facebook users.
It’s important to note that these changes don’t mean that Facebook will block posts that use these tactics. Rather, it simply means that Business Pages that post a lot of promotional content should “expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time”, as the company explained. There are going to be legitimate occasions when business owners will want to tell their fans about a new product they offer or announce a contest.
There are other ways to accomplish the goal of spreading promotional content on Facebook. Rather than use that same post with same small pool of fans, its better to use a Facebook ad to promote a link or encourage people to install an app. Ads have a more predictable reach and through targeting, they can be used to show the content to the right kind of people. It will often be a more effective way to get the desired engagement. Though cynically, one could argue that getting marketers to buy more ads is the real impetus behind these changes.
Regardless of the reason, the upcoming change to the Facebook News Feed algorithm is part of a growing effort by Facebook to limit the influence of marketers on Facebook. As was noted in previous articles on this subject, there are simply too many posts for Facebook to show users everything that would be in their News Feed. These changes are necessary for Facebook to straddle the line between Free for Marketers and Marketing Free.
In the end, the newest changes to the Facebook News Feed are good for marketers because it keeps the platform relevant and keeps people coming to the site. If a deluge of promotional content makes people stop visiting Facebook, then Facebook and the marketers who use it lose.
To learn about other changes Facebook has made that affects Business Pages, read this article about link-baiting posts, as well as this article on three kinds of spam posts that Facebook is targeting.