More Facebook updates: what to expect

29 August 2014

This week Facebook announced changes to its algorithm affecting News Feeds and specifically those pages practising Click-Baiting.

This week Facebook announced some changes to its algorithm affecting the News Feed and specifically those pages practising Click-Baiting. They made two updates, "the first was to reduce click-baiting headlines, and the second was to help people see links shared on Facebook in the best format. In simple terms, Facebook will chase those who publish incomplete photos and request users to click the link to view the entire photo; and also those publishing text with a link to a photo.  This will favour publishers who spread the picture preview that Facebook provides. These changes will especially affect businesses that use their pages to redirect traffic to their website.


It is not the first change that Facebook has introduced. A few days ago they informed us about an update on the platform policies, including prohibition to use competitions to encourage users to like pages.And over the past year they have also modified the algorithm a few times already, after which many companies have seen a decline in organic exposure and reach of its posts and pages. Facebook defends changes and claims their aim is to improve the user experience. On June 5th, Brian Boland responded to some of these complaints on the corporate blog of the company, alleging that the organic reach of business pages has decreased due to two main causes: there is more content and it is shown in the users' News Feed according to relevance.


So what determines the relevance? According to Boland, "thousands of factors relative to each person."They do not provide more details, so we cannot guess or anticipate how to be relevant and get our content displayed in our fans' news feeds. Not to mention those who are not our fans! In theory, popularity is an important factor, but we aren't all Coca-Cola or Starbucks so Facebook will unlikely consider posts from our company relevance. So is it true then that Facebook is blocking organic traffic? Do they pretend that all businesses on Facebook pay to reach their audience?


Many voices have united to claim that the social network is only pursuing its own revenue and it is not helping businesses, especially SME's. Facebook denies its intention to limit the services for non-advertisers or forcing (unable to get traffic otherwise) companies to use their Ads. But in the blog article discussed above, Boland comments that, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won't always appear on the first page of a search result unless you're paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.


Hence, is Facebook only useful to business as a paid network? What do you think?

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