BY LEE K. VANDENBERG
PCC SALES MANAGER
FORT MADISON – Last week, Facebook announced it was rolling out changes that would profoundly alter the way news appears in users’ News Feeds, with the priority being placed on users’ family and friends, in an effort to refocus the platform to fulfilling its original purpose of “bringing people together and building relationships”.
The decision was reportedly spurred by recent research indicating the negative effects the platform had on the mood of users. In co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook post announcing the change and the reasoning behind it, he states “. . .research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.” Read Zuckerberg’s full post here. You can also read the article by Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed, explaining the expected impacts of the change here.
You might have noticed some changes already as many have been rolled out in the past several months, according to Zuckerberg’s post. Facebook states the complete overhaul will take many months and, in the end, they expect users to actually spend less time on the site, but believe the time users do spend on the site will be quality time, connecting with family and friends and building those relationships, and will, therefore, be more valuable to the user. Many in the online universe expect this move to push users to Twitter and other social media formats.
The new Facebook phase-in will place priority on the content that spurs the most meaningful conversation and debate, meaning these posts will show higher in users’ News Feeds. The new Facebook algorithm will predict what content users are most likely to be interested in based on these interactions, and will display this content higher in their News Feed, as well as prioritizing posts from family and friends.
Public content – that is, content from businesses and publishers – will continue to be displayed in timelines, but in a limited fashion and not in a prominent position. For users that currently enjoy scrolling their News Feed for news, funny cat videos and other memes, or keeping an eye on the latest sales, Facebook does offer the ability to customize their News Feeds with a new feature called “See First”. However, this work around is limited.
In order to customize your News Feed, click on the “News Feed” tab in the left-hand menu of your News Feed and click “Edit Preferences”. Then click “Prioritize who to see first” and select up to 30 pages or people that you want to appear at the top of your News Feed, keeping in mind that Facebook will automatically place posts from family and friends they predict are the most likely to be welcome at the top of the News Feed. Facebook has posted an article in their Help section here that explains this “See First” option and an additional option to prioritize people and pages using the “Follow” function.
Past algorithm tweaks made by Facebook significantly limited a pages ‘ability’ to reach users in an organic fashion. Many reports found online state numbers as low as 2% of the people that like a page will see content posted by the page. For example, a post to a page that has 10,000 likes, could potentially reach only 200 people, in essence forcing businesses to pay to market on the platform. At this time no announcements have been made regarding the ability for business page owners’ ability to pay to advertise on Facebook to reach audiences with their messaging, or how this algorithm change might affect the results of paid advertising campaigns on the platform.
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