Facebook has announced a change to its newsfeed algorithm which, according to them, is all about user experience but that will likely impact businesses who utilise Facebook for free advertising the most. The changes relate to what updates a user will see, with a focus less on organic results and more about what Facebook has determined makes a better user experience.
Facebook have been examining how its users interact with and use the site for a while, and apparently aim to make their discoveries the bedrock of decisions over how the newsfeed is presented to users. Something they tried out was increasing the number of text updates that users could see – the result of which was 9 million more text updates from users per day. Clearly this is the kind of response that Facebook want to see from their efforts – the higher user engagement is the easier the sales pitch to potential advertisers.
What they are now set upon doing however is to distinguish text updates from individual users and business pages as apparently there was a difference to the impact on users between the two. As it stands, once a user has ‘liked’ a business page their updates turn up in their news feed in the same way an individuals might. Now however the business page will be treated differently and so have its visibility reduced. The reduction is no small amount, either – it’s believed this will reduce visibility by about 90%.
This had already been impacted by the way that Facebook returned text updates – previously news feed updates were ordered organically, now however updates are presented in the feed in a different way with some being prioritised over others. This, Facebook argues, is to “make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
What this means for the small business owner with a limited budget however is that they will most likely have to pay to be seen on Facebook, even to users who have opted to see their updates by liking their page. What seems slightly hypocritical on Facebook’s part is that, although they are determined the algorithm changes are about user experience, they are actually showing more adverts by paid business that users have not asked to see, compared to businesses whose updates they have actually opted in to see.
As a result of their research in to user experience Facebook will also be ceasing sponsored stories from feeds. They will also imbed article snippets and photos from the original source when users imbed links in to their updates.