Facebook news feed update punishes promotional content from brands

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Facebook announced this week that, as part of an ongoing survey, they asked hundreds of thousands of Facebook users how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. That means a Facebook news feed update is coming.

The bad news for businesses? The overall response from users is that they want to see more stories from friends, and less promotional content from brands.

The good news? They’re interesting in seeing newsfeed content from Facebook Pages they care about.

What does this mean for businesses? And how can you get Facebook users to care about your page?

Facebook found that a lot of the content people see is too promotional. People are fine seeing ads, but are less comfortable seeing promotional content from brands.

How can brands win? Facebook encourages them to update their brands regularly, but is now saying that Facebook users say this is too promotional.

These two points may seem at odds with each others, but Facebook says that this actually makes sense:

News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads (based on engagement, hiding ads, etc.), but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional Page posts. Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.

Facebook’s News Feed is a competitive place as more and more brands and organisations are posting promotional content, let alone the usual posts from people’s friends. That means to achieve cut-through, brands may have to switch from promotional posts to more sponsored posts.

With these changes coming that will negatively affect brands, Facebook are keen stress that their Pages offer lots of advantages for businesses:

Facebook pages are a free, easy-to-maintain online presence for people to discover and learn about a business. They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration, and contain complete information about a business. They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events that bring a business’ story to life.

However, Facebook have said that brands who run pages should expect their organic distribution to continue to fall significantly over time.

Although these changes won’t come into action until January 2015, there are some types of organic posts that Facebook have highlighted where users find them too promotional:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

If you’re planning your Facebook strategy for 2015, try to avoid using these types of posts. You could even start in the run up to the New Year by reducing this type of content and replacing it with more natural, less promotional content.

Whether this is a ploy to make you spend more budget on ads is to be decided, but overall you’ll have to start thinking harder about your Facebook content – and how your paid media strategy falls into this.

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