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This is a test. I repeat this is only a test.

If you are a marketer the announcement of Facebook’s latest news Feed change likely worries you. In case you missed it: Facebook is running a test in a few countries to see if they will split the news Feed into two spaces, one for personal moments and one for publisher content called “Explore.”

via GIPHY

That’s not the be all, end all though. You can get into that coveted personal Feed! How you ask?

via GIPHY

Money, cash, payment, cheese, dough, kale, shekles, moola, scrilla, show me the money, make it rain…

Facebook is all but looking brands/publishers directly in the eye and telling them they have to pay to play.

Facebook continues to experiment with the balance between a positive user experience and the needs of brands. Organic reach for brands has been declining for some time. (20% in 2017 alone.) Brands still try their best to hack or “outsmart” the algorithm. Now, no matter how good your content is, you need to pony up some dough to get those clicks, views, and engagements we all covet.

While this change is significant and may cause you to readjust your strategy, it should come as a surprise to no one. Since it’s inception Facebook has rolled out change after change. Do you remember when brands weren’t even on Facebook? Or weren’t allowed to publish sponsored content? Do you remember the time Facebook had a two-tabbed news feed with ‘Top Stories’ and ‘Most Recent’? That change lasted two years and Facebook was long “convinced that it wasn’t the optimal solution.” Facebook also tested “Highlights” and the “Live Feed” versus the “News Feed.” These larger changes always cause an uproar, garner attention, and then users quietly become accustomed to them.

While this may not surprise you, it will worry you. Especially if you’ve relied on organic Facebook interactions and don’t have the budget to increase your Facebook ad spend.

Put yourself in Facebook’s shoes, how would you determine what to show your users while still generating revenue and keeping brands happy? No, really, put yourself in Facebook’s shoes. Here is the best explanation of how Facebook’s news Feed algorithm works directly from the horse’s mouth:

My motto: cálmate, don’t freak out about Explore.

If your social advertising budget has not already increased, now is the time to explore increasing it. If you’re not rolling in dough, you’ll have to rely on creativity (and hope that this change doesn’t last.) Get back to the basics and remember your page is not solely a marketing tool, you’re building and becoming a part of the community. Start preparing by brainstorming how you will work with the new change.

 

Notes and further reading:

  • A great look from the BBC shares a Medium post from a Slovakian journalist that looks at the impact this test has had. Nearly three-quarters of their interactions are gone.
  • Facebook’s news Feed chief, Adam Mosseri, published a post “Clarifying Recent Tests.”
  • A more positive take on the change from the Independent shares that this change would help encourage users to post more about their lives again. (These types of posts have been declining, one of the problems Facebook was working to solve.) If successful, the increase in personal posts would give advertisers access to more gold. (Gold being incredibly targeted data.) (How will Facebook know which vacation spot to advertise to me next if I’m not sharing the details of my life, love and lunch on their platform?!)

 

Finally, the award for the worst headline on the
topic of Explore goes to recode.

(Sorry recode.)

Headline from Recode. Media. Facebook. Social. "Publishers might have to start paying Facebook if they want anyone to see their stories." Facebook's latest test, Explore, should terrify publishers.

  1. Might have to start paying Facebook? We know that organic engagement has significantly declined, so if you aren’t already paying to boost Facebook posts please share your secrets.
  2. This should not terrify publishers. This could be a challenge and the worst way to face a challenge is with terror. It’s time to strap your creative hat on and figure out what is next.
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