Last week, Facebook announced it would change its newsfeed to “prioritize what (their) friends and family share and comment on while deemphasizing content from publishers and brands.” The move, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was aimed at reducing what is referred to as “passive content”—photos and videos that require little to no actual interaction—in favor of those posts your network has liked, commented on or shared themselves. Think more dog videos and fewer news clips.
But the announcement raises more questions than it resolves, especially for brands using the platform to spread the word to their audience:
- What does deemphasizing mean to content that users have actively liked and shared? If I’ve chosen to “like” the page for Crunchy Cheesy Puffs, that means I want to see them in my newsfeed. How will this decision change what I see? If Crunchy Cheese Puffs goes away, how will I get them back?
- In deemphasizing content from media companies, is Facebook intentionally making more room for its own content? Remember, Facebook is not just a platform; it’s a media company, too, and actively creates and shares its own videos, movies, polls and other content (like those annual birthday videos that tell you what a great friend you are) that it wants its users to then share. What happens when content from other media companies gets pushed down in favor of these Facebook-authored posts?
- Will deemphasizing brand content mean I’ll see fewer paid ads? The jury is still out, but this seems improbable, since that’s how Facebook gets paid. What may change is the way in which these ads will be served to users and spread around networks.
- Will brands that produce content that doesn’t look like an ad have that content deemphasized? Again, a bit of a wait and see—but as a rule, brands should focus on creating content and spreading messages that serve their audience, which is in line with what Zuckerberg said about “making sure time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”
- Will brands have to adjust their online strategy? Most definitely yes. If nothing else, Facebook has taught content publishers to cater to its analytics code to increase clicks. This will change as the feed changes.
Whatever comes next, brands should continue to produce their own original, authentic content aimed at their audience’s interests. Superior content—information that is shareable, informative and fun—will always be in demand.