Is Facebook starting to bite the hand that feeds?

Facebook logoOn Wednesday 29th June, Facebook announced a major change to its algorithm. Detailed in a blog post, the VP of Product Management Adam Mosseri said:

“Today, we’re announcing an update to News Feed that helps you see more posts from your friends and family”

Most people would find it hard to disagree with that notion. After all, Facebook is where we go to catch up on friends’ baby news, gnash teeth at colleagues’ holiday photos or share a picture with our relatives. Why wouldn’t we want an improvement on that?

The algorithm change comes at the expense of brands, however. Concerned that people are bombarded with too much branded content, Facebook has decided to make it more difficult for you to see it.

For the general punter that’s great, but for people who work in social media for a living and have to get their posts onto people’s radars, it’s a nightmare.

Over the past 12 months, most people who manage social media accounts for brands have noticed diminishing returns on their organic content.

A cunning plan*

Facebook’s cunning plan is to get brands to spend money to promote their content, now that organically their reach has dropped.

And so far it’s clearly working. Facebook recently announced that its Q1 ad revenue has jumped 57% from $3.3bn to £5.2bn.

Facebook may have started out as a ‘free’ channel on which to reach supporters and customers, but now they’re making money hand over fist.

Will companies stop using Facebook?

However, there is concern – among some people I’ve talked to – that it could start to backfire. If running a social media account for a brand becomes like flogging a dead horse, then they will slowly withdraw.

Facebook has a job to juggle the demands of its advertisers – who will always want the best return on their spend – and its users who don’t want to be bombarded by adverts at the expense of an old school friend’s photos of his weekend BBQ.

Lean too much one way or the other and there will be departures: either Joe Public will stop using Facebook as frequently or advertisers will stop stumping up the cash.

The one bright spot

Even Facebook recognises that we all love certain types of stuff in our News Feed and they make a point of emphasising that “your feed should inform” and “your feed should entertain”.

And in that part of the post, there remains hope for those of us who work to create exactly that sort of content to keep our own organisations relevant and visible in people’s everyday lives.

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* not really that cunning – they’re just trying to make money

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