Facebook moves the goalposts

|| January 31, 2018

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms Social Media Coordinator

Facebook has been generating plenty of talk about changes to the newsfeed that is central to the life of its users.

The over-arching goal of this algorithm change is to make time on Facebook more meaningful by improving the quality of interactions on the social media platform.

The changes will be seen physically throughout our news feeds in the coming weeks.

Every year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces what he is going to take on personally. Usually it doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook, but this year it does and he wants to fix it. Zuckerberg explains that his product team has been specifically instructed to focus on sourcing "relevant content to help you have more meaningful interactions."

Here’s a summary of Facebook’s changes

A new challenge for business

  • There will be a noticeable reduction in public posts like business posts, brands and media.

The public content will shift towards content that is meant to encourage you, the user, to engage with more meaningfully. Zuckerburg’s argument is that if you are engaging with people you actually know, you will presumably be happier.

Fake news crackdown

  • Facebook will be asking its users about which news outlets they trust. The feedback will then calculate a trust score which will be associated with each news outlet involved with Facebook and consequently, the more reliable source will feature in your feed as the more trusted source. Facebook is taking action after coming under fire for the presence of fake news in its newsfeeds. This is a difficult issue for news outlets. Mainstream publishers have been critical of Facebook’s rigour around news items but most of the big publishers haven’t worked out how to make money from Facebook traffic.

Welcome local news

  • Just like Facebook wants you to see more posts from your friends and family, it also wants you to see more local news over national or international events. If you follow a local outlet or publisher, or a Facebook friend shares a local news story, it will likely show up higher in your newsfeed. The concept behind this is that local news builds and strengthens communities and Facebook is all about bringing people closer together.

It will be interesting to see how user behavior changes – we are so used to tagging friends in meme videos or links to articles, but as Zuckerberg said: "this experience has become too passive".

To be a part of a newsfeed that encourages useful interaction and informs the user is going to benefit the user experience greatly.

And whilst the push back on branded messages from businesses might trigger some discomfort, it will encourage businesses to get better with their engagement.

Businesses need to talk to their audiences like the people they are, discuss relevant topics and provide them with value in a way that improves their time spent on Facebook. Through Zuckerberg wanting to make our time spent on Facebook more meaningful, I expect that any business’s customers will become more loyal through the changes that must be made to adjust.

And that's a positive change.