What You Can Expect from Facebook’s Latest News Feed Changes

Photo of Mike Aleo Mike Aleo · January 12, 2018

Facebook is changing the way its news feed works, aiming to surface more posts from your friends and connections and showing fewer posts from businesses, publishers and organizations.

If ‘fewer posts from businesses, publishers and organizations’ raises a lump in your throat, here’s what to keep an eye out for in the as these changes roll out.

Publishers Need a Plan C

This is a big challenge for publishers, most of whom rely on Facebook as a primary traffic driver. As news feeds became more and more stuffed with posts from publishers, publishers have only been shifting more and more resources to the platform.

This will be a particularly big hit for Growth Directors and social media staff at publishers, who’ll have to explain and contend with a noticeable drop in metrics.

Expect to see more publishers encouraging their audience to join Facebook Groups as they test tactics that the new algorithm deems meaningful.

Brands Will Continue to Rely on Ads

In their announcement, Facebook is preparing businesses to see their effectiveness fall, but this will be a much shorter realignment than for publishers.

For a long time, businesses and brands have not been able to get meaningful reach on Facebook without putting paid media behind their posts. These new changes will make it even more difficult for businesses and brands to see organic traffic.

This shouldn’t make brands blink. Expect these organizations to continue to rely on ads to drive engagement. While there’s likely to be some realignment on a tactical level — and effectiveness might drop in the short term — don’t bet on Facebook nerfing how advertising works in any significant  way.

Good News for Users

Hopefully this will be a positive change for Facebook’s individual users, who will see more posts from people they know and care about. If Zuckerberg and the product team stick to the “time well spent” mantra, I’m excited to see what that means for content in the feed.

The End of Fake News?

Facebook’s presenting these changes as a way  “to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”

It’s tempting to project this as a front on the fight against false stories, hoaxes and the divisive tactics used by content farms and foreign governments. There’s not much in the details of these changes that looks like it will put a stake in the heart of the platform’s fake news problem, though.

There’ll continue to be an arms race between Facebook and the groups that want to use its distribution network to stoke fear and division. Expect the next round of these tactics to spread more through shares rather than comments and likes.

We’ll be watching closely to see how Facebook continues to tweak the news feed as results of these changes become apparent, and how bad actors try to take advantage of the new algorithm around the next high-stakes events.