Facebook News Feed Will Throttle Pages’ “Promotional” Posts

[Update: We asked social media experts how marketers should react to Facebook’s latest News Feed announcement. Read their answers here: If Facebook Organic Reach Is Dead. What It Means For Marketers?] In another News Feed tweak aimed at businesses using Facebook as a marketing platform, the social network announced today that users will see fewer […]

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[Update: We asked social media experts how marketers should react to Facebook’s latest News Feed announcement. Read their answers here:
If Facebook Organic Reach Is Dead. What It Means For Marketers?]

In another News Feed tweak aimed at businesses using Facebook as a marketing platform, the social network announced today that users will see fewer “promotional” posts from Facebook Pages starting in January.

And to be clear, the posts in question aren’t Facebook ads; they are regular Page posts that in Facebook’s judgment seem too much like ads.

In a blog post signaling the change, the company said it is making the move because “hundreds of thousands of people” surveyed said they “they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

Facebook said it will start treating promotional posts more like News Feed ads, which have quantity (a maximum of two a day per advertiser) and quality (based on engagement and hiding) controls.

[pullquote]“It’s a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad.” [/pullquote]

“All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time,” Facebook wrote.

Essentially, Facebook is now telling marketers that if they want to reach people with a promotional message, they will have to use its advertising products.

As Rebecca Lieb, an Altimeter Group analyst, told the New York Times: “It’s a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad.”

This is what Facebook said its survey said people don’t want:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

And here’s a visual example provided by Facebook:

facebook-promo-example

This move is bound to anger marketers which already feel squeezed by plummeting organic reach for their posts, but Facebook has been clear that its No. 1 priority is to make sure users are happy and engaged. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said often — most recently and emphatically last week — Facebook is always going to consider the preferences of its users before the interests of marketers.

Given the number of posts in the Facebook universe of 1.35 billion active users, including 30 million businesses with Pages, competition for limited spots in the News Feed is getting more heated. Facebook doesn’t shy away from the organic reach issue, but previously has said it doesn’t fiddle with dials of the algorithm to specifically target Pages.

That will be changing in January, meaning many Page owners will have to adjust the type of content they post if they want to connect with the people who have liked the Page.

Facebook’s blog post included an extended section with advice for businesses with Pages, seeming to say, yeah, we know you might not be reaching as many customers as you’d like, but Pages can be useful for other reasons:

Pages still matter — a lot. They offer a free, easy-to-maintain online presence for people to discover and learn about a business. They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration, and contain complete information about a business. They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events that bring a business’ story to life.

What many businesses may not realize is that Pages are an important destination for their current and potential customers. In October, for instance, nearly a billion people visited Facebook Pages. Of those visits, more than 750 million happened on mobile devices. Many businesses also use Pages as a customer service channel. Businesses should think about their Page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service. The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their Page.



And it’s important to note that Facebook is increasing its investment in Pages. Given the substantial traffic to Pages, we are exploring ways to build more features into Pages. A lot of this is in response to how we’re seeing people interact with business Pages. Some of these interactions include messaging to communicate with a business directly or browsing video and photo content. We’re also exploring ways to better customize Pages based on the industry a business is in, similar to how we rolled out menu sections for restaurant Pages.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About the author

Martin Beck
Contributor
Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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