Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement of changes to its News Feed has sent its market share reeling and has even significantly affected Zuckerberg’s personal wealth, seeing him drop from the fourth-richest to the fifth-richest person in the world.
The changes come hot on the heels of allegations that Facebook posts might have had a hand in influencing the outcome of the US presidential election in 2016, and following research that suggests the social media platform might contribute to depression among its users.
On 11 January 2018, Zuckerberg used his Facebook profile to announce changes to the posts users will see in their personal News Feed, calling them a new direction which will encourage active engagement and not just passive content consumption.
Said Zuckerberg: “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Whilst the markets didn’t react particularly favourably to the Facebook CEO’s announcement – its shares fell by more than 4% the following day – the ideal of striving towards a social network that values meaningful interactions is an honourable one. Posts that encourage meaningful interactions are posts that generate lots of comments, shares and likes. This ties in with the investigations done by Facebook researchers, which found that actively commenting on posts makes users feel better about using the social network, and also about themselves.
All of this sounds pretty technical (and it is, when you consider the fact that Facebook uses sophisticated algorithms to gauge the engagement of posts) but in essence means that you will notice changes to your personal News Feed as Facebook starts rolling out the adjustments and alterations. This is what you can expect.
- Posts from media outlets, brands and businesses will not show up in your News Feed as often as you might be accustomed to, and the posts from these entities that you do see, will be posts that encourage meaningful interaction as it is explained above. The result is that you will start seeing more posts from other people that are your friends, or who you follow.
- Groups and communities will start featuring even more prominently as Facebook encourages interaction around common interests among its users. Facebook Spaces and its goal of promoting interaction between users will also further this ideal.
- Video content from brands, businesses and media outlets will feature less than video content from people you know or share common interests with.
All of this makes it clear that businesses and everyone that is not an individual user will have to opt for a different approach when it comes to marketing on Facebook. However, Explore Feed, which is an experimental second news feed that is being tested in certain countries, might provide an alternative to businesses and the media in this regard.