Rumours have been bubbling for several months that Facebook was planning a shift for its news feed back towards ‘personal’ content from friends and family, rather than ‘public’ posts and content from brands and media.
Now CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed the changes – they weren’t fake news! – which he says are part of the social network’s determination to make its usage “time well spent” – even if that means people spend less time on Facebook.
“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,” wrote Zuckerberg on Facebook.
“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 News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.”
So, the changes. “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,” wrote Zuckerberg.
This will manifest first in the news feed: “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.”
There is more to this than pure public-spiritedness, of course. Facebook’s business model is already based, to a large extent, around those businesses, brands and media paying to boost the reach of their posts and content in the news feed.
The decline in the organic reach of this stuff is a familiar trend, so marketers (music marketers included) will surely see this week’s announcement as something that will focus their Facebook activities even more around paid reach.
That said, the “it should encourage meaningful interactions between people” part of Zuckerberg’s announcement is worth thinking about. He cited “tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams” as well as the interaction around live videos as positive examples.
So there may be some value in music people thinking about what kind of Facebook posts get fans talking and interacting, rather than just seeing the changes as a cattle-prod to spend more on ads.
Facebook later followed up with a blog post on the news feed changes. “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed,” explained head of news feed Adam Mosseri, adding that live videos “on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”.
But he didn’t sugar-coat the overall implications. “Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.”