Facebook announced last week that it was changing the algorithm to favor posts from friends and family over those from brands. It also recently gave users access to the SEE FIRST button for personal profiles as well as brand pages, allowing users to note whose updates they wanted to see first. This is great news for Facebook users, who have been complaining that the algorithm seemed to deliver posts from the same handful of friends, ignoring many others. “I never see your updates,” the oft-heard refrain.
Cue, immediate uproar from publishers, advertisers and brands that these changes would prevent their fans and followers from seeing THEIR updates.
Tempest in a teapot. The only way for brands to reliably get their content in front of their audience on Facebook at scale is to advertise. Facebook ads, boosted posts, branded content. Now it is simply more obvious.
In the short term, yes, these changes are unfortunate for those brands that have developed models for organic Facebook success. They will have to rethink their models and consider using paid posts to get the sharing started, rather than just relying on their content to drive organic shares. But, as long as the content is good, and worth sharing, does it really matter that you have to invest in a small amount of paid to get the party started? I don’t think so. I have long believed that what matters isn’t whether something is paid, owned or earned. It’s whether someone wants to share it. Previous posts on this topic include Shining a light on the native advertising debate from 2014 and Is earned media an anachronism from 2011.
Net, not much has really changed for brands. Facebook is just loudly fixing something that has hampered its user experience, and basking in the brownie points from billions of users.