Facebook Update Could Spell Bad News for Businesses

Facebook Update Could Spell Bad News for Businesses

Vowing to put users first, the social networking site has announced another update and published its News Feed Values for the first time

30th June 2016

By Adam Pescod

What’s the secret to a happy marriage? Why can England never win a penalty shootout? Why does adding an ‘e’ to the end of a word makes it seem old, but adding one to the beginning make it sound high-tech?

There’s a good chance we will never find an answer to these burning questions, but if there’s one question Facebook is determined to give a definitive answer to, it’s ‘How do you decide what’s on my News Feed?’

Certainly it’s a question that has plagued the social networking giant since it first launched the News Feed feature back in 2006, especially as more brands have tapped into the commercial potential of the platform. And while Facebook is hoping the latest update to its most contentious feature will well and truly put the issue to bed, its potential impact on the business community means we might not have heard the end of it just yet.

As revealed in a post by Lars Backstrom, Facebook’s Engineering Director, News Feed will be updated over the coming weeks so that posts by users’ close friends and family appear higher up the page. It’s a change that Facebook first tried to implement last year, yet users evidently believe they are still being-short-changed and missing out on crucial life events from their nearest and dearest.

“We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about,” said Backstrom. “For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day.”

We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. Lars Backstrom, Facebook

Fair enough, you might think. However, the update looks set to have a significant impact on Pages, the marketing tool that businesses use to promote their brand on Facebook.

Backstrom explained that the update “may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages”, adding that the specific impact on a Page’s distribution and metrics may vary depending on the composition of its audience. “For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts,” said Backstrom. In light of the update, he encouraged businesses to post things that their audiences are likely to share with their friends.

The message is clear. Users are – and will continue to be – more important to Facebook than businesses. And in a bid to reinforce this message, the company has also unveiled its 'News Feed Values', which provide some semblance of an explanation for how it orders a person’s News Feed. “These values — which we’ve been using for years — guide our thinking, and help us keep the central experience of News Feed intact as it evolves,” said Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management, News Feed at Facebook.

So, just as businesses are starting to come to terms with Brexit, they are hit with yet another Facebook update. And who’s to say there isn’t another one waiting just around the corner?