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Does the Facebook News Feed spell trouble for Inbound Marketers?

  
  
  

If Facebook is an important part of your inbound marketing plan, take notice! The new News Feed algorithm is making some big changes – and causing some controversy – in the world of social media marketing.

Here’s the scoop.

The Changes

Facebook announced a series of changes to its News Feed display designed to create a “personalized newspaper” feel to the platform. Pictures and videos get a more prominent display, and there will be a variety of new content oriented feeds to choose from – including music, events and special groups. In theory, this will fix complaints from users who don’t think the News Feed reflects their interests.

The Controversy

While the News Feed changes have yet to go into full effect, Facebook’s promoted posts changes – which also affect what is seen by your followers - are definitely causing uproar.

New York Times columnist Nick Bolton related his personal experience with decreased engagement on Facebook. He explained how his engagement numbers on Facebook have dropped significantly since the changes with Facebook’s Timeline. After paying Facebook $7 for a “promoted post” he saw his engagement levels spike but before then they were lower than a year before even though his activity hadn’t changed.

Although it was a personal anecdote – the experience hasn’t been entirely unique. Ever since the Promoted Posts feature was added to the Facebook platform, there have been questions about how these posts relate to regular posts. With the News Feed changes and new filters, the likelihood that important – non-promoted posts – won’t reach as many users may be higher.

The Response

Facebook didn’t take the New York Times article lightly – and issued their own official response. They insisted that the allegations were not true and that aggregate engagement has gone up for most people who allow others to follow them on Facebook (rather than add them as a friend).

“Overall engagement on posts from people with followers has gone up 34% year over year,” they stated “News Feed shows the most relevant stories from your friends, people you follow and Pages you are connected to. In fact, the News Feed algorithm is separate from the advertising algorithm in that we don’t replace the most engaging posts in News Feed with sponsored ones.”

What’s Next?

Small business owners aren’t satisfied. In a follow up to the response, Nick Bolton’s column described the difficult many of them have been having since the Facebook changes. Some have been asked to pay upwards of $30,000 for promoted posts to large groups of followers.

If you’re invested in inbound social media marketing, Facebook’s News Feed feature may throw another curve ball in your marketing plans. You have a few choices:

  • Continue to market on Facebook and set aside a budget for promoted posts.
  • Shift focus to another social media platform that works with your audience.
  • Create an email marketing list that you can send messages to without the fear of getting pushed down by new algorithms.

Facebook’s large user numbers make the platform hard to ignore but getting your messages seen by the right people is the whole purpose of social media. Facebook’s News Feed changes are supposed to make things better for businesses – but time will tell whether that comes into fruition. 

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