Classic Mark Zuckerberg, always throwing his spanners in the works, isn’t he? He creates the social media platform that defines a generation, then keeps evolving it under the guise of giving users what they want. What the Zuck, indeed.
He’s also dabbled in the role of Facebook as a publisher. Not publishing stuff to Facebook’s own newsfeed, but actually creating original content like news articles. Remember? He made some deals with media big dogs The New York Times and Washington Post? But that backfired a bit after the whole US-electing-Trump-because-the-Russians-spread-propaganda-about-Hillary-Clinton-on-Facebook-and-people-believed-it-and-now-Trump-is-president-wtf thing.
These moves (pre-Trump and other news-making related controversy) saw Facebook become the world’s largest real time distributor of news. Now, to kick off 2018, Mark’s changing tack. Less news, more personal stuff, says He.
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” he announced on Facebook. “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.”
In other words, fake news killed Facebook news.
So what does this mean for social media as we know it?
There has been commentary from some experts that media outlets will be impacted a bit (some good articles about that here and here), but for us, we are interested in how social media marketing will be affected. After all, Mark himself said: “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.
“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.” There’s that word, “value”. Value should be at the core of all marketing, that’s certainly where we place it.
Which is why we predict influencers will continue to rise.
Influencers are, after all, people. Effective influencer marketing is about creating authentic, valuable content with people and the brands they love. Forbes sums this up well here by saying, “Every influencer, no matter what the niche, has their own content style that, for whatever reason, resonated with their audience and caused that audience to explode. “These influencers and their audiences will garner even more attention with their organic content, while similar, non-paid content from businesses and brands will suffer.”
And Facebook advertising will become more expensive.
As reported in Digiday, brands may have to shift their Facebook strategy entirely to paid. “Agencies believe brands will have to spend more on paid ads on Facebook in order to get the same number of views. One source believes Facebook will begin offering brands new ways to communicate with people, but they will have to up their spend to get into the news feed. “Perhaps Facebook will follow in the footsteps of networks like WeChat that heavily restrict the role brands play in the news feed but give more free reign to advertisers within messaging apps.”
But overall, it’s a good thing.
Yes, it will be more difficult to reach newsfeeds now there is less space for brands, but it will be far more rewarding for publishers who create good content which stimulates meaningful conversation. Our co-founder Jon Randles reckons because the goal of all social media marketers should be to stimulate meaningful engagement, this change will make Facebook more relevant to users. And therefore more powerful for brands who create content their audience actually cares about.