Facebook’s latest Newsfeed update signals change for publishers and brands

The latest Newsfeed update announced by Facebook today will see organic reach for brands slide even further as it seeks to put personal posts first.

It comes as Facebook has faced increasing pressure in recent months with its users reportedly posting less of their own updates to their accounts and increasingly finding themselves turning to more personal sharing platforms like Snapchat (that arguably don’t have the same level of ‘junk’ posts to get through).

It makes perfect sense for Facebook, reiterating their core purpose and encouraging people to share with other actual people (their family and friends etc) over a multitude of posts from businesses, celebrities and ads.

Whilst overcoming that clutter may be good for the end user, it spells bad news for media companies and brands that have built a base on Facebook. Those that have Facebook stand as their primary source of referral traffic are likely to, yet again, see significant decline. This marks the second time this year that an algorithm change to Newsfeed has caused traffic levels to plummet, with some sites seeing traffic cut in half almost overnight. Facebook’s Engineering Director conceded that this latest update “may cause reach and referral traffic to decline”.

Pay to play seems to be front and centre yet again, a tide that many marketers and publishers have seen move ever closer in the past 18 months. Organic reach will be harder than ever to achieve, so if you want to reach a significant audience you’re going to have to pay for it. Whilst brands are more used to that proposition, publishers are not. This move will do little to allay the growing unease felt at Facebook’s sheer dominance over audience access.

In fairness to Facebook, its end users are its most important asset and ensuring they have the best experience possible (with less clutter) is key to their continued success. The fact that it may force more brands to part with more
hard earned cash to reach their audience means yet more revenue for Facebook and happier investors.

It’s a win-win for Facebook and a win for the average Facebook user.

Publishers, the media and audience-hungry brands? Their social margins are growing ever thinner…

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