Facebook has announced that effective in January, they are going to suppress posts that seem too promotional on Facebook pages – unless, of course, it is a paid sponsored post.
Warns Facebook “Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”
By “organic distribution”, Facebook means ‘your page’s posts showing up in users’ newsfeeds’, but it’s anybody’s guess what they mean by “over time” or, for that matter, just how Facebook is adjudging whether or not a post on your page is ‘too promotional’.
Now, of course, in Facebook’s announcement about suppressing promotional posts made on pages, they claim they are doing it based on user feedback.
One of the main reasons people come to Facebook is to see what’s happening in their News Feeds. Our goal with News Feed has always been to show people the things they want to see. When people see content that’s relevant to them, they’re more likely to be engaged with News Feed, including stories from businesses.
That’s why we often look to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve. As part of an ongoing survey, we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.
We dug further into the data to better understand this feedback. What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads. This may seem counterintuitive but it actually makes sense: News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads (based on engagement, hiding ads, etc.), but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional Page posts. Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.
According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
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Now first, we wonder whether it’s even true that “one of the main reasons people come to Facebook is to see what’s happening in their News Feeds.” That’s certainly not why we go to Facebook. We go to interact with our colleagues and friends who are on Facebook, and to see what’s up with them. In fact, we rarely go to the News Feed, because it’s so full of, you know, paid promotional posts. Moreover, we don’t mind seeing promotional-type posts from pages that we have actually liked at all.
Second, again, nowhere does Facebook explain how they (will) determine when a post is ‘too promotional’, neither what factors will be considered, nor how, from a technical/mechanical standpoint, a post will be determined to be too promotional, and thus suppressed from appearing in the timelines of users who have liked that Page.
In fact, the examples that Facebook includes in their announcement have all the indicia of having been made up and posted by Facebook!
First, the two ‘pages’ (Tiger Therapy and Bunny Puzzle Cube) don’t even exist. Second, clearly Facebook itself created these promotional posts, because the only way to see which admin (in this case ‘Alex’) posted an update to a Facebook Page is to be logged in as admin of that page. The public (whom Facebook claims to be protecting with this change) can’t see who is doing the posting, it only appears as a post from the Page.
The bottom line is, Facebook is making it so that businesses will be penalized for using their own Page to promote their business – unless they meet Facebook’s demand for unhush money.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal covering this change, which the WSJ describes as Facebook “[intensifying] its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates,” Facebook’s VP of Small Business, Dan Levy, says that businesses shouldn’t think of Facebook as “a niche social solution to getting more reach or to make a post go viral.”
Clearly they won’t now.
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