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Facebook’s newsfeed purge: the likely fallout

The big talking point among PRs, marketers and social media folk currently is all about Facebook’s latest newsfeed algorithm update (or purge as some are calling it). How will this impact businesses on Facebook?

What is Facebook actually doing and why?

Essentially the change means the social network’s users will see less content from brands and more stuff from friends and family. Facebook head of newsfeed, Adam Mosseri, said it will “prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people”.

Other points to note include:

“Because space in newsfeed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

“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.”

Most experts view this as an attempt to clean up people’s busy Facebook feeds and stem the torrent of ‘fake news’.

Here are some things that will likely happen as a result…

Surprise, surprise, Facebook gets to sell more ads!

Obviously, those brands who are less visible (and have the money to pay) will start buying more ads and promoted posts to maintain visibility. And of course ad prices will go up, so Facebook gets richer!

Natural networkers who are their brand will flourish

These are the people who don’t bother with a separate Facebook business page to promote their brand anyway. Instead they are already successfully promoting their business via their personal page to a large network of followers, including friends, family and business contacts . They are the master networkers with the magic touch who comfortably interweave mentions of their business and services in an entertaining way into their personal shares and stories.

It’s likely that PRs and social media agencies will try to take over the personal profiles of their clients to replicate this ‘natural networker model’.  But it’s never going to be as authentic or as effective as the real thing.

There’ll be a shot in the arm for ‘influencer marketing’

Those who aren’t lucky enough to be natural networkers and don’t have huge Facebook followings will probably resort to buying influence. Basically they’ll be paying social-celebrities, public figures and online influencers to mention and promote their company and its offerings on their Facebook pages. The problem is, if people see a huge rise in blatant influencer content on Facebook it could be just as irritating as the brand content the network is trying to sweep away. And don’t forget if  followers aren’t engaging (reacting and commenting) with those influencers’ content, then it will get lower visibility.

Businesses and publishers will go back to other channels such as email

Some brands – irritated at being at the mercy of the likes of Facebook and Google – will go back to old favourites such as email, where they can directly reach out to target audiences. Although regulations such as GDPR which restricts the data that brands can hold and what they can do with it, will also curb email marketing.

Desperate online publishers might end up buying fake traffic

Online publications who have come to rely on Facebook for traffic to their stories and articles will see it dwindling – earning fewer ad clicks as a result.  Some of these sites might turn to buying bot-generated traffic from shady traffic brokers (basically they’ll get bots to click on ads), meaning advertisers will be squandering their ad budgets.