The New Year Means New Facebook Changes

The New Year Means New Facebook Changes

Have you heard about the changes that Facebook has announced that will begin in January?  Facebook announced that they are going to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.  Even if someone has “liked” your business Page and opted in to see your company’s status updates, the chances are they won’t, if Facebook deems them “promotional” in nature.

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If you want to reach people who are fans of your Facebook company Page, you will have to use paid advertising options on Facebook.  The days of a business “owning” their customer relationships through a social media platform are just about over.   Platforms such as Yelp and Facebook are now simply allowing you to “rent” your customer relationships.  You spend the time and effort to build up your fans and get likes, but they have total control over the content those customers see.  (For more, see this Wall Street Journal article.

Here is what Facebook said in their post about this change in policy:

“According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:

  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

Example of these types of Page posts:

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As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place — as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.” (cue the JAWS movie theme music…)

While the three bullet points above point out the type of status update Facebook is looking to filter out, they didn’t get into specifics of what verbiage is and isn’t allowed.  So it would appear that essentially Facebook’s algorithms will determine what is promotional and what isn’t.

Facebook does try to soften the blow by pointing out that they are increasing their investment in Pages by exploring ways to add more features such as direct messaging a business and being able to browse video and photo content.  They are also looking into options for customizing Pages based on the industry the business is in, similar to what they are doing with the “menu sections” for restaurant Pages.

Time will tell if this latest change will cause small businesses to decamp from Facebook and move to other social vehicles that (as yet) don’t rank content (i.e. Twitter). 

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