January 16, 2018
On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to Facebook feeds. One of the changes means Facebook users will no longer see organic posts from pages they like and follow unless they click a small link on the side that says “Pages Feed”.
FACEBOOK’S NEW “PAGES FEED” OPTION
If you hadn’t already noticed, you’ll find that all the organic posts from pages you have liked in the past are now only available via the “Pages Feed” under “Explore” on the left side of your Facebook feed.
I’ve taken a look at my all-new “Pages Feed” and there are posts from feeds that I really enjoyed seeing in my main feed and which (because I would “like” the posts sometimes) I used to see as easily as those from friends. Now, I’ll have to remember to visit that special feed if I want to see them and I doubt that I’m likely to.
The “Pages Feed” is also full of posts from pages I’ve liked in the past but which I ended up not engaging with. They’re posts I lost interest in—filling my new “Pages Feed” and making it even more unlikely I’ll want to click that extra link.
FACEBOOK’S BEEN MOVING IN THIS DIRECTION FOR A WHILE
In fact, Facebook has been decreasing visibility for Facebook “pages” since 2014 and it’s been unlikely you’d see many of the posts of pages you’ve liked appearing in your feed. Only if you engaged frequently with the posts of a page would you continue to see posts from that page; you just wouldn’t see those from pages you ignored. This was pretty much the same way personal posts were working: the more you engage with someone’s posts (liking, sharing and commenting), the more you tend to see the next thing they post.
By late last year, the organic posts from pages (those that don’t get a paid boost) were only reaching about 2.6% of the people who’d “liked” the page. They’d have been the people who frequently “liked” the posts, etc. To really reach more people, page-managers who realized their posts were not being seen, would resort to paid boosts to their posts or Facebook advertising.
But still, in 2017, if you were posting content on a page that a lot of people really did value and like, they would see it in their feed.
FACEBOOK’S 2017 “PAGES FEED” EXPERIMENT
Beginning on October 19, 2017, Facebook ran an experiment in 6-7 small markets (Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka—and also, I think, Brazil)—testing out what they have now put in place everywhere. As reported by The Guardian small businesses and organizations who had embraced the free marketing opportunity that Facebook’s pages had offered discovered that the rug had been pulled out from beneath them, leaving only those who can afford to pay for boosted posts and ads to continue getting the exposure in people’s feeds.
FACEBOOK’S WARM-FUZZY EXPLANATION
If you read Mark Zuckerberg’s statement, he makes it sound as though the whole idea of the “Explore” option is to protect users from content that isn’t warm and fuzzy like cute animal-pics and family photo-sharing.
Mark Zuckerberg writes: “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
Scrolling through my feed today, I do see that it’s free from the usual smattering of ads and sponsored posts. This might make people like the change.
But wait… I don’t find ads or sponsored posts anywhere. Not in my news feed, my “Pages Feed”, …not anywhere.
It may be true that Mark Zuckerberg just wants to return the main feed to a more intimate sharing space but I reserve some suspicion that what “As we roll this out” really means is that while you will never get back the organic (unsponsored) posts from pages that you enjoyed seeing in your feed, you will soon again be seeing boosted posts and ads from Facebook users who have paid to target you. What exactly are they paying for, otherwise? These options are still available…
Here’s a selection of the (very mixed) comments on Mark Zuckerberg’s post:
SHOULD FACEBOOK HAVE DONE THIS?
Facebook is a public company, answerable to shareholders—and shareholders tend to want larger and larger profits. Facebook users don’t own Facebook, do they?
The fact is, Facebook wouldn’t exist without the long-time and continuing input and engagement of its users. Without us all, the Facebook platform is an empty and useless platform. They offered pages as a means to easily distribute information to fans. They waited until Facebook users had invested themselves in creating and maintaining Facebook pages before they began eroding the benefits.
However much complaints about Facebook go a bit crazy, it’s understandable to feel a tad betrayed by the rug-pulling they do.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?
Facebook—and all free platforms that we may use—are not under our control and we can’t and shouldn’t expect them to be tailored to our needs or wishes. What may work this year may be gone next year and we will all need to adapt over and over.
As much as you may also use social media platforms for outreach, make sure you have your own platform (professional website and mailing list) in top notch at all times so these changes aren’t devastating.
That said, there are huge benefits of Facebook pages that have absolutely nothing to do with showing up in people’s feeds and which doesn’t require paid post-boosting or advertising.
For example, people researching a business or organization will often go from the website to the organization’s Facebook page. While the website can professionally present all the basic information a person needs to know, a Facebook page can give a more casual or intimate feel of the company, and a better sense of how the company interacts with its community.
This alone is good reason to maintain your Facebook page and keep it fresh.
The uproar that ensues whenever Facebook rolls out a major change is always interesting. Complaints about levels of control often display ignorance of the settings Facebook has put in place to allow users to filter what they see. There’s nothing to stop you from filtering out a friend or family member if their posts annoy you, for instance, even if Mark Zuckerberg thinks friend & family feel-good posts are what people mostly want to see.
Don’t be bewildered by Facebook. Shift gears. Explore.