Updated Controls for Facebook News Feed – Boon or Bane?

If you are chasing your “million likes on Facebook page” dream, drop it! as soon it may become a futile exercise.

According to the latest update from Facebook, they are making some deep changes to its news feed which would make it difficult for brands to reach out to their page followers.

Over the years, Facebook has modified and transformed the way we consume content on our wall through its News Feed. News Feed is where you go to catch up on what’s happening with your friends and find the content that matters to you.

What you do in News Feed helps determine what you see in News Feed. You decide who you want to connect to, and what Pages and public figures you want to follow.

Needless to say that Facebook has become a universal choice of brands & businesses around the globe for reaching out and engaging with their target audience.

Facebook revenue has continuously beaten all expectation in the past and still going strong. In this process, what has really happened is that the average number of pages liked by any individual on Facebook has gone up significantly.  Here’s a graph from Social Bakers that demonstrate the fact quite clearly:

Average number of Facebook user likes per country
Average number of Facebook user likes per country

 

In India, on an average 22 pages are liked by each Facebook user (which is much smaller compared to 70 in the US). Now add to that, the unstoppable Facebook feeds of your friends and the newly added content feeds of publishers. How much of a chance does any brand has to make an impact and grab your attention?

Updated newsfeed control can potentially kill your Facebook campaign

In their latest update to newsfeed, Facebook has provided the users the option to prioritise the kind of feeds they want to see first. They can chose their best friends, their favourite branded content which would appear first in their timeline.

In their statement, Facebook clearly mentioned that they are allowing people to select the kind of content they want to see and engage with.

News Feed is a personalised stream of stories that you build from the people and Pages you’ve connected to on Facebook. The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. To do this, we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you: specifically, whom you tend to interact with, and what kinds of content you tend to like and comment on.

But this could be a bad news for the businesses who’ve spent precious marketing dollars for getting those page likes. It would seriously impact the content engagement rates in days to come across all brand pages.

Facebook-Newsfeed-prefrences

Here’s what Greg Marra, Facebook’s product manager has to say in an interview given to Mashable on the Facebook News Feed:

Feature was modelled after News Feed’s “unfollow” feature, which allows people to choose not to see posts from specific pages and people in their feed. “The thing we were constantly hearing was: ‘there’s a few people that I really care about and i want to make sure I don’t miss stuff from those people.

This could be a positive move from user experience standpoint, but brand pages would soon feel the after effects of this change.

Also Read: Here’s why Facebook likes should stop bothering you

Conclusion

While the average total likes for Facebook Pages went up in many cases in February 2015, very recently Facebook Inc. made a new announcement for business pages due to which a lot of pages saw a dip in their average page fans by 3 to 4%.

Facebook is not been able to balance its priorities in the recent times, and with this recent change, it may face significant backlash from advertisers around the globe.

Facebook Fan Acquisition has become irrelevant In Social Media?

stop worrying for facebook likes

The above presentation would come as a slap on the face to many “Social Media Gurus” (especially here in India). The beautiful part about this presentation is that all the points mentioned in this presentation are sheer common sense and does not comply with any ” marketing strategy template”.

I would like to quote a very famous statement made by Rene Descartes,

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”

Since the days of orkut (and now Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many more), marketers have forced themselves to believe that ‘the money is where the audience is‘. By the way, that is not entirely incorrect. However, the very idea of a brand engaging with the audience is highly over rated & misnomered (BTW, did I say anything bad about the digital or social media agencies yet? Hell no! 🙂 )

How many times, as social media marketers, we genuinely think about the sales or business objectives of the company ahead our present marketing objectives? Often the approach used by the agencies is based on a common template which created for all the clients. This leaves little room for debate around how should the business objective be linked to the social media strategy.

It is becoming increasingly programmatic and how,

Step 1: A marketing manager creates a social media brief.

Step 2: He gives it to the agency.

Step 3: Who (the social media agency) comes up with a plan.

Step 4. Agency waits for an approval.

Step 5. The agency executes the campaign.

Step 6. The final report (with weekly, monthly likes, followers, retweets) is shared.

Step 7. Invoice reaches the client’s desk.

Step 8. Mission accomplished.

Sorry for being so dramatic. No offence to any digital or interactive agency. I think there are quite a lot of media companies with some fascinating talent who are trying their best to do great work in the space.

Also read: The Good, Bad & Hilarious world of Social Media

But lets come back to the main point.

Do brands really need to get over obsessed about the term engagement? I know most of you may not agree with me on this point, but it is practically impossible for audience to engage with so many brands. Facebook defines engagement rate as the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.

But is that engagement worth spending your precious time, money & resources?

In his article “5 Tips for a Better Facebook Brand Strategy in 2015“, Peter  Stringer-Vice President, Digital Media at Boston Celtics wrote about the Facebook’s definition of audience engagement:

But the first two of those (metrics) are basically worthless. Post likes are meaningless. OK, not completely, as a post’s likes do impact its organic reach, but realistically, a like is a one-second long, one-click engagement. How valuable is that? Do you remember the last post you liked on any platform?

facebook-engagement-is-not-the-only-metric

One of the biggest misunderstandings about Facebook likes is the assumption that once a person “likes” your page, they are going to keep coming back for more. A “like” on a page doesn’t guarantee that they will ever come back to that page and participate or even read any updates. According to an AdAge article , only one percent of fans on the biggest brand pages actually engage with the brand at all

Top reasons why people unsubscribe from facebook pages

Most of facebook likes are just casual observers or lurkers. This leads to a one-sided conversation led by the brand, or frankly no conversation at all. One of the major reasons.

The whole idea of increasing the number of likes and treating it as a mantra for social engagement success is absolutely B*ST. I am saying this because unfortunately this is how most of the social media professionals are talking these days. Needless to say, when so many people say the same thing, clients (most of them) believe it to be true. But is it really true?

According to a research published by a Denmark firm, Komfo:

Engagement is not the only social media marketing KPI, reach & fan penetration is another critical element in this puzzle. According their findings, smaller communities perform better (see below) on Facebook both when it comes to fan reach and engagement.

Facebook community page engagement metrics
Facebook community page engagement metrics

You can read their complete findings here.

No wonder, social platforms, notably Facebook, are starting to shift away from the airy talk of “brand engagement” and instead offer more nuts-and-bolts ad offerings. Engagement.

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PS: opinion expressed in this post are strictly personal.