On Wednesday, Facebook announced that the algorithm that controls what you see in your news feed when you open Facebook is going to change. “What’s that; Facebook Has an algorithm?” Yes, it does and a lot of people don’t realize it. A lot of people assume that Facebook simply dutifully shows you the stuff that gets posted by the people and pages you follow, but in actuality, FB pays very close attention to the things you’ve expressed interest in by visiting and interacting with. Basically, its always watching you and profiling you. Then, it prioritizes what it thinks you will be interested in using its algorithm.
The main point of the announcement was to emphasize that the algorithm is going to now prioritize posts by family and friends rather than pages that you follow. This, as they say, is to reflect their news feed “values”. They use a lot of sentimental language to make this sound like it’s all about you and your personal life. It’s hard not to be cynical about it though, because the implications of this have a slightly less fluffy sound to them if you follow it through to it’s logical end. Stay with me here.
As a digital marketing company, one of the things we do is help brands and pages get noticed by their target audience. The tried and true way to do this is by providing content and posts that people will value and, in turn, like and share. As a result of this update, it’s going to be much harder to get those posts seen by followers of these pages. This means that, in spite of the fact that you’ve opted to follow a page, Facebook isn’t going to show you what they are posting. Building up a follower base for an FB page takes a lot of work and nobody wants to see that wasted because FB no longer wants to show your stuff, so page managers will now be forced to start boosting their posts through FB’s advertising which gets to the heart of what Facebook is really after here. FB doesn’t want anyone having a free ride using their platform to communicate with their audience without getting their cut. So really, they're backing brands and pages into a corner so that they are forced to pay to get their posts seen.
If you’re just a Facebook user and don’t manage a page you may think that this doesn’t affect you so why bother getting upset about it. Unfortunately, that’s not really true. A possible outcome of this is that you’ll still be seeing just as much commercial content as you did before (if not more). The only difference is that it’s all going to be stuff that is sponsored rather than content from pages you chose to follow. Now, you’ll be seeing more advertisements in your feed from random pages instead of the organic and authentic posts from brands you already trust. This will mean a much more spammy news feed as well as the wearing away of the old methodology for building an audience based on providing people what they want to see. Since pages won’t be rewarded for that any more, they won’t bother with quality content and just opt to open their pocket books to spam everyone.
That’s our take. Do you think this will make Facebook better?