Going Back To Old Facebook Is Good For The Many, Not The Few

Facebook’s plans to change how the news feed works, making businesses, brands and media posts less visible, are a mixed bag of good and bad news.

In case you missed the news, Facebook is making some big changes to the news feed, as part of Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge to make the social network more about the people and not brands.

"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,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote.

Vague as ever, Facebook is confirming that business pages will see a reduction in the organic reach and traffic, with pages posting content that is rarely engaged with seeing “the biggest decreases in distribution” and those that prompt more conversations receiving “less of an effect.”

This, as you would imagine, is receiving a mixed response from the community. People with no vested business page interests are proclaiming this a good thing - reducing the amount of nonsense content that many media brands seem to be posting nowadays for the sake of gaming the network's system.

On the other side, you have a whole array of confused & concerned business page owners. People who have made every effort to increase the number of fans on their page, who has jumped through every hoop put in front of them by Facebook from asking people to “follow” a page to receive content, to asking them to choose “See first” on the menu of page options.

Now they’re putting another barrier between the page and its fans? It seems kind of stupid, given these people have put their faith in the page for its content output.

Don’t get it twisted, while I do fall into this category, I’m looking at this with the purely analytical eye that several years of social media marketing experience has given me. Facebook has not been forthcoming with businesses, no matter how much said businesses have invested - both financially and with manpower - into the company.

With ever moving goal posts, this outpouring of frustration is not just about this specific issue. Instead, it’s a disguise for the bigger request - a sense of damn consistency from the social network. I get the need for constant change with the times and users’ preferences, but the core functionality should stay resolute.

On every single other social network, a follow is a follow - you know exactly what you get with that and the definition has not changed for years. The fluidity of Facebook’s outlook on what a “like” is means business page owners have lost trust in this channel’s reliability and this next move could be a dangerous one.

So, what am I trying to say here? Much to the distaste of like-minded brands such as my own, Facebook’s people-centric intentions to roll back brand impact on users’ news feed is a good move. 

Saving the social network from itself by removing the potential of politically charged fake news, and videos that really should be images but publishers put floating transparent arrows over the top of just for the sake of increased organic reach (yes, they are bugging me too) will no doubt win some consumer faith back.

However, I can understand business page owner frustrations too. They have worked hard to recruit their fans, who have taken the time to like a page with the expectation of seeing their content.

Putting up an extra obstacle between them and that content, no matter how Facebook positively frames it as putting friends and family before brands, is quite clearly a ploy to extract more cash and increase the profitability of their advertising business. Things will not stop there, though.

I believe it will get to a point of zero organic reach with requirements to pay per post. Harsh, but without much competition in the social space whatsoever (yes there are other social networks but they’re not big enough to really compete), they can dictate the rules of the game.

2018 is going to be an interesting one for social media.