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Facebook Changes Make It More Difficult for Businesses

On the 14th of Nov. 2014, Facebook announced that it will be making changes to the way its algorithm is to evaluate the content of business Pages. Starting in January 2015, Facebook intends to reduce the amount of promotional content that people will see in their News Feeds.

Apparently, according to a survey they did with hundreds of thousands of people, certain types of content “feels too promotional”. Included are:

  • posts that are solely for encouraging people to install an app or buy a product,
  • posts that have no real content but push users to enter competitive promotions or sweepstakes,
  • posts that utilize the same content as is in their ads.

facebook-big-brother

Facebook claims that their goal with the News Feeds is to show only that which people want to see and that content, including stories about businesses, has to be relevant to the users. Facebook already monitors and controls the content quality of the ads and will now turn their attention to the content of promotional posts on Pages.

Because the News Feed is already competitive and that is likely to increase as more people post more content on more Pages. So if you post content in the News Feed (on your Pages) that is seen to be too promotional, your “organic distribution” (who will get sent the content you post) will be impacted significantly and is likely to go down.

Facebook goes on to say that “Pages still matter – a lot” since those Pages offer people an easy, free online presence through which users can discover and learn about the businesses they’re interested in. And, since this online presence works across the various devices – desktop, tablets and mobile – businesses can bring their story to life in the form of text, videos and photos.

They also said that this is part of an ongoing effort to make News Feed more relevant and therefore more engaging for its users and that they will be creating “a better platform for businesses to reach their customers and to find new ones”. Should we be worried about this?

Be sure to stay on the right side of Facebook by consulting their Page publishing tips and best practices for advice on how build and use Pages. And, for reaching specific audiences predictably and achieving

the objectives of your business, Facebook is offering advertising space for businesses to buy.

Considering that Facebook has actually admitted that in the past its algorithm has been very unsophisticated in determining quality, one hopes that it will be improved so it can better assess the quality or spammy nature of posts in the future.

And, the blurring of the line between content and advertising which has been going on for some time, for instance calling ads “sponsored stories”, makes us sceptical about the “hidden” purpose of these algorithm changes. Is this just another way of maneuvering businesses away from using Pages and buying advertising instead? As one comment posted after the announcement was made said, “It is all advertising, why do you think the Pages are there.”

Other comments were no less convinced that this was all for the users well-being. These attitudes were among those posted:

  • “If you follow a Page, particularly for a business, it is fairly obvious that the business will be promoting the goods and services it sells.”
  • ” Facebook should stop posting its unsolicited advertising on the News Feed. We are capable of blocking those inputs we don’t want, although we don’t have the option of doing the same with whatever Facebook decides to add to our News Feed.”
  • “It is ironic that the only posts I don’t want in my News Feed are the sponsored posts. Users can easily un-follow any page they really don’t like.”
  • “Facebook uses advertising to monetise their business, however if that advertising proved effective for the businesses that used it, then they would naturally flock to it, instead of being forced into it.”

Is this another example of power corrupting absolutely?

Do we really need Facebook to oversee and protect us from too much promotional material or can we be trusted to make our own decisions about what and who we will follow or un-follow?

Big brother seems to come in all sorts of guises, and with all sorts of justifications for manipulating one more aspect of the marketplace.

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