A significant change in Facebook’s news feed algorithm will make it harder for brands to stand out without paying.
Facebook’s news feed will now prioritise what friends and family share, reducing the amount of content that users see from brands and commercial publishers.
Brands will likely need to spend more on paid ads to get the same number of views, raising advertisers’ fears that “organic reach” – unpaid display of commercial content – will be increasingly unachievable.
Facebook’s focus on milking increased advertising revenue could not be more apparent. The platform pushed up its ad rates by some 35 per cent in the last quarter of 2017. Organic reach has been on a slow downward trend for some time.
In a statement, Facebook’s Vice-President of Product Management, John Hegeman, said the revised news feed algorithm would leave advertising “unaffected”. However, few industry pundits agree.
Brands will need to put far more thought, effort and creativity into being consistently relevant to their target audiences, particularly when competing with updates friends and family.
As Digiday‘s Seb Joseph observed, “It seems like Facebook is returning to being a social network rather than a news organization. In the enduring debate on Facebook’s impact on post-truth politics, the social network has continually denied it is a media company. This algorithm change looks like a step to confirm that, returning to the days of wall posts and status updates.”