Given all the conversations around fake news, the role that Facebook may have played in US Presidential Elections, studies indicating people are not seeing enough ‘personal’ connecting and may even be leading to depression in some cases, and closer to ad land issues such as brand safety, transparency and measurement, this was perhaps no surprise.
Following its CEO’s aim for 2018, one of the first prominent steps seen last week was the aim to make Facebook’s News Feed, more personal and meaningful.
In a blog post, Mr Zuckerberg explains, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness. But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
The Facebook Chief attributes this to video and other public content increasing in the past couple of years. More public content than posts from friends and family, has shifted the balance of what’s in News Feed from the “most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”
“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping find relevant content to helping have more meaningful social interactions. We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
As this rolls out, there will be less public content such as posts from businesses, brands, and media. The public content will be held to the same standard, which is that it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses. Due to this, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.
This update is not the same as the recent tests where all Page content was moved to the Explore Tab. Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.
Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook. As per Facebook, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.
“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too,” Mr Zuckerberg summed up.