Back in 2012, social media was booming and so were smaller brands. Facebook was a boon for small brands to market themselves and grow. Brands like Chumbak, Pipa+Bella etc started exclusively on Facebook and have grown to be noteworthy names today. The ease of reaching new audiences, combined with the low cost of marketing was a great way for people to build their brands.
All that might soon change with Facebook’s upcoming changes in algorithm. This isn’t the first change in its algorithm. There have been several smaller changes that Facebook put across as ‘making the experience better for the user’. The user, in this case, being their vast pool of private users – the people to whom they market to. Brands are not considered users. There has been a substantial drop in the amount of organic impressions a brand page gets today, compared to even 5 years ago. Facebook states that this is merely more content being available on the site, leading to less interesting content going down and not being as popular. It almost sounds true.
The latest update, however, is the most drastic one, cleaving users and brands. The newsfeed will be split into the regular ‘News Feed’ that will feature content from your friends, and another ‘explore feed’ – available on the right hand menu – that will feature content you might be interested in, based on the pages you like or your friends’ activities.
What Facebook Says: The idea behind the Explore Feed is to help Facebook users discover more content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages you already follow. (According to Techcrunch)
However, we did a run through on the Facebook app on the iPhone, and here’s what we discovered:
The main newsfeed was filled with content from news websites & entertainment websites like Being Indian, ScoopWhoop etc. There were several articles, and surprisingly, fewer stories from friends on the Mobile News feed. A handful of posts about friends liking other posts, sharing photos etc. But there was not a single mention of any of the other brand pages we’ve engaged with.
The Explore News tab had recommendations of newer posts, based on what we’ve liked or what our friends are liking. Some videos, memes and news stories were trending for the moment.
The brand pages were curiously absent even from the ‘Explore Feed’ tab, which makes us wonder if this was a temporary glitch or something for brands to worry about. The only place we could see brands was in the sponsored posts. And if that is the way Facebook is headed, it could be the death knoll for smaller brands who cannot afford to market themselves consistently.
Of course, we’ve to wait and watch as to how it will actually work, and of course, how the desktop roll out would work.
Either way, most people will not take an additional step to explore and find ‘newer’ content. You never do unless you run out of scrolls on the main tab. And that is definitely bad news for brands.
The second piece of news is a new tool Facebook introduced a little while ago called ‘Branded Content Tool’.
“Our Pages terms and Ads Policy now allow certain types of branded content on Facebook and require publishers and influencers to tag the marketer in the post to make it clear that the post is branded content,” was Facebook’s explanation. In simple terms, any kind of paid influencer collaboration is now supposed to be declared and will have a ‘paid’ label in the meta-tags (where you often see location, date etc).
There is not much data to check on how this has affected influencer engagement. After all, an influencer’s followers might not be too keen on something that they see outright as a ‘paid’ collaboration.
The question remains on which tab this would appear – the main one or the explore one.
With these rapid and key changes to Facebook, it is time that we explore other avenues of social media for marketing and stop relying so heavily on Facebook alone.