Facebook squeezes 'overly promotional page posts' out of news feeds

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Facebook’s latest tweak to its news feed algorithm will squeeze out posts that it sees as “overly promotional” from pages on the social network.

Due to take effect in January 2015, the change means that even if people have liked a page for a brand or celebrity, they will be less likely to see posts from that page encouraging them to buy products, install apps or enter competitions.

“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,” explained Facebook in a blog post.

“What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from pages they like, rather than ads.”

Ads were sure to raise their head at some point in the discussion of this particular change. One clear impact of Facebook’s upcoming change will be to nudge page owners towards paying to advertise on the social network, especially for promotional posts.

“Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content in their news feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place – as more people and pages are posting content, competition to appear in news feed has increased,” claimed Facebook.

“All of this means that pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”

Does this mean Facebook will be shoving more paid ads into people’s news feeds to fill the space left by those promotional posts? The social network says not.

“This change willnotincrease the number of ads people see in their news feeds. The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories – including page posts – people see in their news feeds,” claimed the company.

“This change is about giving people the best Facebook experience possible and being responsive to what they have told us. While pages that post a lot of the content we mention above will see a significant decrease in distribution, the majority of pages will not be impacted by this change.”

The move is likely to boost Facebook’s burgeoning advertising business, which generated $2.96bn of revenues for the company in the third quarter of this year – 92.5% of its overall income.

It will also encourage some marketers to spend more time creating video for their pages. Facebook says that “native” video – clips uploaded directly to the social network rather than links to YouTube videos – is already generating more than 1bn daily views on its service.

Several marketers have told the Guardian that native Facebook videos appear to currently be performing well in the social network’s news feed algorithm. That may not remain the case though: what price another official blog post in 6-12 months’ time hinting that video reach will also decline unless page owners pay to boost it?

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Monday 17th November 2014 08.54 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010