The millennial mom who documents her child’s every development. The newly engaged couple that just posted their save-the-date photos. The brand page you liked two years ago in the hopes of winning an iPad, and that now begs you to like its #FBF posts at the end of each week. Your Republican friend who’s been gloating since Tuesday.
We’ve all been unwitting victims to these Facebook offenders. Fortunately, the social network that for years claimed its mission was “to connect the world” is now making it even easier than it already is to disengage from the publishers, brands and friends you no longer “like.”
Facebook’s previously hard-to-find news feed settings will now be more readily accessible to users: Whenever someone opens the drop down menu on a post and unfollows the associated account, they will now be directed to their news feed settings page. And the settings section will now show users the pages and people they interacted with most over the past week, allowing them to unfollow anyone (or anything) with the tap of a finger.
The new feature will do more than help users forget about that kid they knew from anthropology lecture but were never that great of friends with anyway. It has the potential to seriously affect, for better or worse, brands and publishers’ distribution through Facebook.
The upshot, according to agency executives, is that brands and publishers that already do well on Facebook will see their reaches increase, while those that are unpopular among will fade into news feed oblivion.
“Brands with non-exciting, boring, lame content will suffer big time,” Matt Heindl, senior director of social media marketing at Razorfish, told Digiday. “Of course they can then buy sponsored posts — which Facebook will love.”
This falls in line with the myriad adjustments Facebook has made to news feed over the past year, many of which were aimed at ridding news feed of “low-quality content” as defined by Facebook’s audience. But while publishers have basked in the changes, seeing huge spikes in Facebook referral traffic, brands have seen their organic reach decrease, effectively forcing them to pay for the number of impression they formerly enjoyed free-of-charge. Any mass unfollowing will only serve to amplify that effect.
“It’s good news because the more behavioral signals we have, the more likely advertisers’ messages will be seen by receptive people,” said Ben Winkler, OMD’s chief digital officer. “It’s worrisome only if Facebook uses these signals to further reduce the unpaid reach of posts to an advertiser’s fan base.”
It could have a similarly polarizing effect on publishers. Publishers that have successfully gamed news feed with clickbait-y headlines may see their Facebook followers — and thus their amounts of referral traffic — dwindle, thus affording more news feed real estate to the publishers that retain their Facebook fans.
“More Facebook users are getting their news from the platform, and this will only help speed up that adoption,” Bustle founder Bryan Goldberg said.
But since Facebook lets its users define what constitutes quality, success on Facebook is more about a publishers’ popularity than some objective definition of its worth. As the rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, from earlier this year was essentially muted on the platform in favor of Ice Bucket Challenge videos, Facebook’s filter bubble can at times hide important stories.
Many agencies execs welcomed the change, with Jill Sherman, DigitasLBi’s group director for social and content strategy, saying it will provide useful data as to what users don’t like and thus help reduce wasted ad spend.
“Brands on facebook will be forced to get more creative or pay for it,” according to TBWA\Chiat\Day’s director of digital strategy Rohit Thawani. “It’s about time.”
So while the poor will get poorer, the rich will get richer (namely, Facebook itself).
Dentsu’s podcast celebrating Black empowerment tries to do its part to fill the advertising inequity gap
The Dentsu-backed More Than That with Gia Peppers kicked off season 3 last week, featuring several major advertisers (and Dentsu clients) including Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Kroger and Mastercard.
The Athletic’s Sebastian Tomich is looking beyond ads and subscriptions to reach profitability
The Athletic's path to profitability is set for 2025, and to achieve this goal, chief commercial officer Sebastian Tomich is focused on more than just selling ads directly to prospective advertisers.
How newsroom unions intervene when members get laid off
Amid the recent wave of media layoffs, here are some of the ways newsroom unions are intervening.
SponsoredAdvertising predictions that will shake up the media industry in 2023
Chris Kelly, CEO, Upwave Like many people, marketers and advertisers were ready to see 2022 come to a close. A year that started off promising was assailed by inflation, layoffs and the disastrous effects of RSV, the flu and additional COVID strains. Still, despite an uncertain outlook for 2023, there are plenty of reasons for […]
Despite Q1’s slow start, publishers are bullish about events revenue for 2023
Publishers like BDG and Apartment Therapy are banking on events revenue to give them a leg up in 2023.
Media Briefing: The case for and against monthly and annual subscriptions in the battle for retention
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for improving retention in a subscriptions business. While annual subscribers might stick around longer for some, other publishers will have better luck with monthly plans.