Facebook News Feed Update Will Delight Marketers, But Probably Just Annoy You

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen on March 25, 2009 in London, England. The British government has made proposals which would force Social networking websites such as Facebook to pass on details of users, friends and contacts to help fight terrorism. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg and company rolled out another change to the Facebook algorithm, and this one makes it even easier for advertisers to reach you. Goody. Last month, the social-networking giant had messed with its News Feed algorithm once again, challenging companies to be craftier with their marketing strategies. These days, Facebook favors posts with creative images and a limited amount of text — and starting Tuesday, users will now see posts in their News Feed from Pages they don’t already follow

Wait. What? Well, a Page can now post a status, mentioning and linking to another Page, and the latter will show up on News Feeds of anyone who likes both Pages — basically, you'll see stories from Pages you don't follow mentioning those Pages you do. Sneaky. Facebook claims this is “a new way for people to discover conversations around topics they’ve expressed interest in.”

In a coincidental twist, it's also easier for advertisers to team up and bombard you with double the ad content.

Does this sound sort of familiar? Well, Facebook’s product manager Andrew Song insists in a Newsroom blog post that this really is nothing new, since we often see photos of our friends on our News Feeds that may have been added by someone we’re not actually Facebook friends with. 

The difference? Pages can reach thousands, if not millions, of people. Posts by the typical user may only reach a few hundred users.

[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/Webtrends/statuses/438446203844308993]

According to Song's blog post, this is actually a feature that users want.

When we tested adding this feature for pages, we found that people liked seeing this type of content in their News Feeds and gave these stories high scores in surveys. We look at many factors to make sure the most relevant stories appear in News Feed, including which posts are getting the most engagement (such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks) across all of Facebook.

As an example, Song mentioned a post in which Bleacher Report mentioned Dwight Howard in a photo, noting that the photo may show up in News Feeds of anyone who follows Dwight Howard, but not Bleacher Report.

The jury is out on whether or not we'll actually like this. Sure, it could expose users to brands they actually like... or it could be a total nuisance. And if it is, it could prompt more people, particularly teenagers, to flee Facebook for other social networks. Since 2011, more than a quarter of teenage users have left Facebook.

Better hope this one works out, Zuck.


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