Hurray! Facebook gives publishers the middle finger

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Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, took time to announce more changes to the social platform’s News Feed. The summary is that Facebook users can expect to see more content from their friends, family and groups. They will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. Yes; Facebook gives publishers the middle finger.

Facebook gives publishers the middle finger

The relationship between Facebook and publishers, businesses and media outfits in general has been a complicated one for a while. For obvious reasons, publishers would like to see their content given more priority in Facebook’s news feeds.

The premise is that people are on social media, so it is a good idea if publishers and businesses can reach them right there. The problem, as Facebook sees it, is that posts from publishers – businesses, brands and media – are crowding out inter-personal engagements.

Publishers have invested enormous resources to build connections and audiences on Facebook and now have to deal with this new development. Some publishers have come out to say they are worried and “losing hope“.

A More Social Network

Facebook is taking a more socially responsible approach to running their social network. According to Zuckerberg, “..research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

“Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

“We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from 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.”

It is difficult to argue against Facebook’s new direction. As a personal user, I have gotten tired of Facebook. I do not get to see updates from lots of personal connections, and many of them do not see my updates. Why then did we connect on the platform?

Any Good For Publishers?

On the business side, this move is probably good for publishers too. They can stop worrying about how to game Facebook’s algorithm, as has been the practice for a while. To satisfy Facebook, media companies have made compromises in their content. Perhaps, they can now go back to being proper media companies and work at building follower-ship for their brands.

I am a firm believer that if you create great content that people enjoy and find useful in some way, you cannot lose. People live for content and will go where the content is. Plus, there are different types of content, not just short, snippet-like social media material, and all suited to different platforms. Publishers do not have to be worried if they will be proactive.

Lastly, I will be doing myself a great dis-service if I don’t have my “I told you so” moment. Yes; I told you over and over again that it is not a great idea to invest and build your business on an independent platform, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever new, fancy social platform that may show up next year. I told you so. Now get to work and build.

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