Staff Writer
News & Views
Impact of Facebook’s news feed changes for brands

Facebook has announced significant changes to the algorithms which determine what users of the social network see on their News Feed. The company intends to gear the homepage primarily towards posts from a user’s Facebook friends, with much less of a focus on content from brand pages. (This has the potential to dethrone Facebook as a primary news source for millennials, following a two year period where the veracity of news stories and political coverage on the platform has come into question.)

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that this revamped News Feed will help people see more posts from the people who are important to them. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our wellbeing,” he says. “We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health”.

A seemingly altruistic goal, but it is also reasonable to assume that the algorithms have been redesigned to combat “context collapse,” the digital phenomenon wherein online users share fewer and fewer details about themselves. A renewed focus on content from a user’s friends and family will likely encourage that person to like, comment and share, thereby making more personal data available to Facebook.

While paid ads will continue to be shown to users as they always have, this will have a major impact on the organic reach of branded content. There is already some speculation that this will inevitably drive up the price of ads on Facebook. Content that users engage with will still appear, but the emphasis on “meaningful” interactions may signal the end of content designed solely to get likes and comments, such as competitions and giveaways.

Not only will these changes act as a sort of litmus test for brand-customer relationships on Facebook, they will also present a challenge and opportunity to find more creative ways to connect with users in a way that both human beings and algorithms deem “meaningful.”

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