Mark Zuckerberg Said This… But He Never Said That

How Facebook Newsfeed Changes Will Impact Paid Advertising

Late in the afternoon of January 11, 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published his second post of the new year. In a 630-word statement on his personal account, Zuckerberg made a series of observations about how people have come to engage with the Facebook platform. He noted that many in the Facebook community believe “public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — are crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Accepting responsibility that the social media site should be good for individual wellbeing in addition to being fun to use, Zuckerberg committed to showing, in the Facebook Newsfeed, more content from an account holder’s friends, family and groups. He then acknowledged that while people may spend less time on Facebook because of these changes, the minutes they devote to it will be more relational and meaningful.

Bye, Felicia… Just Bye

Within hours of Zuckerberg’s post going live, critics began to sink their teeth into the blood and bones of his intentions, claiming that the plan would kill the use of Facebook for business while still not doing enough to break the bonds of social media addiction.

But what did Zuckerberg actually say? He acknowledged that Facebook’s new approach will result in fewer business posts in the Newsfeed. He said personal content will upstage passive content and that businesses will be held to a higher standard of posting information that encourages meaningful interactions between people.

He did not, however, say or even imply that Facebook, a company that derives its multi-billion-dollar income from paid advertising, will trash its relationship with its advertisers. Instead, businesses will need to curate their content to ensure they share the best and most engaging information. They’ll also need to up their game when it comes to advertising as week by week, paid Facebook ads will become increasingly more important for connecting in the marketplace.

And if clever ads and thoughtful, well-conceived messages and videos outshine the trite and redundant unpaid posts some businesses have leaned on, forcing the lame content out of the Newsfeed, then we say, “Goodbye repetitive filler content…just bye.”

Facebook Advertising

Let’s dial back for a moment to the basics of Facebook reach—that magical number of account holders who actually see a specific post.

Organic reach is the total number of unique viewers who see a post through unpaid distribution. Paid reach is the total number of unique viewers who see a post because of an ad. And total reach is the number of unique viewers who see a post on Facebook, regardless of where or why a they see it. In other words, if a post reaches a person organically and through an ad, that person is included in the headcount for organic reach, paid reach and total reach.

In Facebook’s new world order, companies that rely on organic marketing will have limited reach via the Newsfeed. Pages will see a decline in organic reach, referral traffic and total video watch time. Likewise, if these businesses depend on Facebook to drive visitors to their website, they will see their web traffic decrease.

For organic content and videos to claim a spot in the Newsfeed, the information and messaging will need to be active, not passive. Posts that inspire conversations and interactions, such as comments, shares and reactions, will take priority over posts that are consumed without response.

Moving forward, as the Newsfeed increasingly filters non-advertising content, the posts that make the cut, will be those that engage, inform, remain true to a company’s brand message, highlight new products, promotions or services or provide important updates. Companies will want to proactively create Events, share relevant videos and connect with customers and clients in the local community.

No changes to ads ranking are currently planned. Still, if a Page post gets less organic reach due to this ranking change, it may see a slight impact within the ads auction, if boosted. Engagement, however, is a very small part of ads ranking. To ensure relevancy and value, Facebook relies on many other data points to determine which ads people see.

As the shift in Facebook’s model changes the filter for the Newsfeed to prioritize content shared by friends and family, people will return to a pattern of going to Facebook to see what their friends are sharing. Realistically, they may not stay on Facebook as long as they once did, but they will likely be more involved with actively reading posts, viewing videos and making comments, rather than passively consuming content with little meaning or value.

Facebook will increasingly focus on all the ways to build community around the content that people share and watch instead of enabling them to burn time on information with limited value or meaning.

In the Words of Mark Zuckerberg

In the short time since Mark Zuckerberg published his plan, many misquotes and misunderstandings have sprung to life. The full text of his January 11, 2018 Facebook post appears here. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll no doubt want to read his words for yourself. Here’s the full story:

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.

We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.

But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.

It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in Newsfeed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.

We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in Newsfeed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
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.

For example, there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.

Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.

At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.

Note: Seychelle Media’s elevated status as a Facebook Agency Partner gives us access to Partner Data and roll-outs of new Facebook Platform Features other agencies cannot access.

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