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November 18, 2014

Another Facebook News Feed Update: Less Promotion, More Storytelling

November 18, 2014

If you’re a marketer—or even if you’re not—you've probably noticed Facebook's continuous tweaks to the News Feed. From my personal perspective, my news feed looks like: less annoying Upworthy headlines, less ads from small businesses, more ads from big businesses, and more photos and updates from my friends and family.

That’s because Facebook is on a never-ending mission to make our news feeds (mostly) relevant to us, and in January, there are more changes coming.

If You Want to Promote, You Have to Pay

Starting January 2015, if your brand wants to promote something on Facebook, you’ll need to buy an ad. Doesn’t sound like anything new, right? Well, it kind of is, and it’s making the organic news feed even more of a competitive playground.

After surveying (“hundreds of thousands of”) users and analyzing some data, Facebook determined that a lot of the content that users found overly promotional was coming from Pages that they actually like—not from advertisers. In the new year, Facebook will implement more algorithm controls around promotional posts.

This means that users will (should) be fed more meaningful, interesting and engaging content. It means that when Pages want to promote products, specials, contests, discounts, etc., they’ll have to pay for an ad, when before they might’ve (successfully) promoted with a regular ol’ post.

What Makes a Post Too Promotional?

According to Facebook and survey responders, consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional include:

1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Posts that are overly promotional tend to look like:

Facebook News Feed update - promotional posts.

Facebook News Feed update - promotional posts.

What Does This Mean for Audience Reach?

If your Page doesn’t post much promotional content—as defined above—then your reach shouldn’t be affected much at all, in theory. However, you should make it a priority now more than ever (8 billion people visited Pages in October, according to the ‘Book) to produce and promote meaningful, engaging and relevant (think: storytelling) content for your audiences.

What do you think of the new update? On one hand, I appreciate Facebook’s efforts to make our news feeds more real, and less cluttered. On the other, as an advocate for my smaller clients, I’m afraid they’ll get lost in the sea of big budgets.

Read more about the update here.

Cover image via (Mick Baker)rooster.

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