Facebook testing a feed with only friends’ updates and promoted posts

If you’re a small business who primarily relies on Facebook for your marketing, the social media giant’s latest pilot project is a major warning sign for you.

According to The Guardian, Facebook has been testing a news feed where only promoted (paid) updates from pages and posts by friends appear in users’ feeds. In other words, standard posts by pages would not appear in the default news feed. The tests have so far shown dramatic traffic declines for pages in Sri Lanka, Slovakia, and Serbia – the three countries being used for the pilot.

This shift by Facebook underscores a few principles we always emphasize to our clients:

  1. Don’t rely on one channel for marketing, especially if it is not a channel you control. Your website is basically always yours, but Facebook can make changes to its algorithm anytime it wants – usually harming your business. Cover your bets by using a multi-channel approach and put your greatest effort behind building channels you own, such as your website.
  2. If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product. Facebook is not truly a social media company. They’re an advertising company. They offer a service which people use, and the more people that use the service (and the more time they spend using it) the more valuable Facebook advertising is and the more money they make. That’s why Facebook ‘is, and always will be, free’.
  3. Targetting is increasingly important. Facebook page updates go to anyone Facebook thinks will find them interesting, and its algorithm uses the reaction of your followers to determine whether to keep pushing your content (this is a  simplistic explanation, but let’s work with it for now). Facebook advertising, meanwhile, can be controlled to go only to specific followers. Of course, Facebook advertising costs money – so you need to be disciplined to ensure not only that you aren’t wasting money targetting those who won’t be interested, but also that you get a positive reaction from your audience. Low or no engagement (or worse, users telling Facebook they don’t want to see advertising from your page) will hurt more than posting nothing at all.

If you need help determining where to take your business next in the digital marketing space, fill out our contact form and get in touch. We’d love to help you grow your business.

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