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Is Facebook Losing Face with Business?

By Hector Cisneros
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Facebook recently decided that businesses were publishing too many non-relevant posts to the Newsfeed timeline. Facebook believes that its platform is all about personal relationships and not business posts! Its latest alteration to its algorithm greatly filters all business generated posts. Does this mean that your marketing isn't being seen! What does this mean to you as a business owner? Does it mean you stop using Facebook and switch to a different platform? Does it mean you now have to pay to get seen on Facebook? In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will delve into these questions and much more as we decipher what Facebook's latest news feed algorithm change means to business.

Like Google, Facebook keeps changing its news feed algorithms in order to “improve the subscriber experience.” At least, that’s what they tell us. In the past, I have written articles about Facebook that
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show this pattern of on-going rapid change. In my article called
The Ever-Changing Faces of Facebook, I describe how Facebook was adding new features, changing old features and altering its look and management feel often and without much notice. In fact, over the last five years, I wrote many articles about how to use Facebook, whos company seems obsessed with changing many of its functions. Most of the time I was prompted to write my articles because of some change that Facebook implemented. Don’t get me wrong; I like Facebook. I feel that overall it has made a positive impact on social life. Its popularity and worldwide scope also comes with massive responsibility.

At the center of most Facebook’s controversies is the Newsfeed it provides. I got very incensed during the 2016 election when Facebook was filtering and censoring the Newsfeed for articles they felt were either inaccurate or did not follow their political view. The article I wrote was called Can Internet Giants Google & Facebook, Steal the Election? It described how Google and Facebook had
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been shown to be filtering the Newsfeed, favoring Hillary Clinton by mainly showing only positive posts for her and only negative posts for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. What triggered my writing of this article was when Facebook pulled my curated post for a research article that showed Google was doing the same thing. I did a little additional research and found that other authors were complaining about Facebook censoring their posts as well.

As a free society, we must hold all media companies (big or small) accountable for the freedom of speech that is written into the constitution.  It is true that Facebook and Google own their respective internet service companies. I also feel they should be allowed to set reasonable standards for how their services are used and run. However, their news services are now a direct and powerful influence on the public. We must be able to trust they are not acting in a politically biased way. If they are, they should be made to profess this openly and not hide behind the excuse that their algorithm accidentally did it.

Now let’s get back to the latest changes. On January 11th of 2018, an article on NBC News online had the headline “Facebook says big changes are coming to your newsfeed.” This article states that Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg intends to Fix Facebook's problems of algorithm abuse and make it so that people’s interactions are meaningful and positive.
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In a recent Facebook post, Zuckerberg stated that One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.  We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands, and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”  You can read his entire post by clicking on the link above.

This all sounds well and good, but does it mean that they will continue to pull curated posts acting as the ultimate arbiter of what is Good and what is really newsworthy? Talk is cheap, and I for one will wait to see what really happens.

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What I am hearing from this announcement is that the newsfeed will filter out all business and media posts unless you have specifically asked your followers to have that post listed in your Newsfeed timeline. Otherwise, all business and media posts will only be seen if you click on their connection to go to their page. From a business perspective, this means the end of using Facebook as an organic social marketing tool. The only way a potential customer can see your post is if a reader found it and then shares it. Then it is a matter of whether Facebook deems this post as enhancing social interaction in a positive way! If you own a business that relies on Facebook traffic, be ready to start boosting posts and engaging in Facebook Pay Per Click ads to achieve this traffic because organic traffic will be hard to create.

In the aforementioned article from NBC News Online, they state that The changes are also a blow to brands and media companies that publish on Facebook. Adam Mosseri, Facebook's head of news feed, said these public pages can expect to see their reach, video watch times and referral traffic decrease.”

In another well-read and respect online blog called the Social Media Examiner, they state that the head of Facebook's News Feed division, Adam Mosseri said; Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about. Mark outlined this in a post today.” And “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from
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businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
The article went on to say, This isn’t the greatest news for businesses, especially those that rely on the news feed to generate organic traffic. They further go on to say that,marketers can expect the organic reach of their Facebook pages to drop.” 
The Social Media Examiner goes on to state that Specifically, users will see more posts from people they’re connected to in the news feed and less content from pages they follow. This is a significant change from the previous values of the news feed, which prioritized the total time spent on Facebook and how many people shared posts directly. While Facebook still values page content as an important part of their platform’s ecosystem, the news feed will shift the focus from ranking content that’s directly consumed from pages (which will shrink in reach) to content that is shared and talked about among friends (which will grow).”

Not long ago, Facebook implemented a different timeline newsfeed algorithm that favored posts from friends and family over connections to businesses. In fact, if you were not actively selected as a
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friend or family member your post was relegated to the backwaters of non-viewership. When this happened, businesses saw their organic traffic plummet. Most marketers adapted to this issue by posting more Facebook videos and using Facebook’s publishing platform to get a more favorable reach. Now, Facebook is saying that this prior algorithm is being replaced with a new algorithm that favors content from friends and family posts that seeks advice or recommendations and news articles or videos that compel people to discuss and interact. If your subscriber shared post does not prompt interaction and discussion, it's relegated to the Newsfeed trash heap.

The only good news about this major change is that for now, the cost of boosting posts and running Facebook Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are still relatively low when compared to other PPC venues like Google AdWords. But don’t expect this to remain the status quo. This change will cause an increase in demand for boosting and PPC ads. With this increase in demand will come an increase in cost as well.

I have always counted on the lower cost of Facebook’s PPC platform as a great counterpart to Google’s AdWords. Even though these platforms work differently and target consumers in very different ways, I could always use Facebook as an alternative if Google’s AdWords got too expensive. Now, this alternative may change for the worse. It is my hopes that Facebook doesn’t get greedy and uses this opportunity to take market share from Google AdWords.

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If you are using Facebooks as an organic marketing platform, it's time to bone up and be ready to make drastic changes to the way you engage your followers. You should be reading everything you can about these latest changes and also understand that the changes are fluid and ongoing. Facebook has always engaged in social experiments with its platform, and we will be seeing the latest of their experiments rolling out over the next several weeks and months. It’s time to recognize that Facebook expects to make big money from its social platform and it expects to compete head to head one day with Google for pay per click dollars.

I have compiled a list of articles that I think are worth reading to help you get up to speed. Keep in mind that Facebook's past actions suggest that nothing is written in stone and that things could change again whenever Facebook deems it necessary or beneficial. It is a good idea to also visit Facebook’s support pages for Newsfeed posting guidelines and business best practices as well. I have provided some of their links in my list to make it easier to get this information. Here is my list.

If anyone tells you that they know exactly what Facebook is going to do in the future with their platform, take it with a grain of salt. Change is fluid and always
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evolving. From a marketing perspective, Facebook and all social networks must prove their worth as a marketing venue. I have always felt that social networks are best used as branding tools. There was a time during the “golden age of social networks” where they provided organic reach that could be used for lead generation as well as branding. Today Facebook has made it clear that they want marketers to use their marketing platforms for advertising and that any marketing performed in the Newsfeed timeline will only work if your followers deem it worthy of sharing and discussion. 

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With this in mind, I recommend that marketers engage influencers to actively share your content in a way that compels engagement of shared content. Ask more questions, provide more useful information, make sure your content is of high quality, relevant and timely. My article from five years ago called the;  "Six Cardinal Rules of Social Media Success,” is still relevant today (if not more so). Principles don’t fade or go away. They may get covered up or obscured by the machinations of the social networks, but that does not mean you should stop using them as your guiding star for success. Now more than ever it requires that we stick to the principles that make content the best and most useful to our audiences.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article provides details of the stated changes that Facebook is making to the way its Newsfeed functions.  These changes will require marketers to radically change how they use Facebook. It further provides examples and ideas on how to adapt your marketing to compensate for these changes if you use Facebook for organic and paid marketing. The article includes links to Facebook's policies and many articles that discuss these changes along with an article that is principled based.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.

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