Facebook announced last week that it was once again shifting the mysterious algorithm that governs a users news feed. A users home page will contain more posts from friends, more posts from family and fewer pieces of actual news. Adam Mosseri, Vice President of product management for Facebook’s news feed, revealed the change in algorithm in a friendly blog post.
The basics of Facebook’s algorithm is that family and friends are based as a priority, so posts from friends are prioritised before posts from buzzfeed or brand pages. While a post from family shows up before posts from a friend.
Facebook reportedly has a daily active user rate of 1.09 billion on an average for March and with a reported $340 billion of market capitalization it becomes inevitable that brands use the platform to reach out to a lot of its readers and viewers.
In its April earnings call, Facebook announced an increase in the amount of time people were spending on its sites: its 1.6 billion monthly users spend an average of 50 minutes daily on the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, up from 40 minutes in 2014.
Facebook is currently the top news site for the coveted millennial demographic, as a Pew Research Center study found. Facebook wants you to post your personal information so it can turn around and sell it to advertisers.
Mosseri’s blog further said, “We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful. Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and view points, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging”
We spoke to a few experts about this and here is what they had to say:
Swapnil Shrivastav, VP (AD TECH), Times Internet said, “Essentially we want to figure out another way because at a certain point we cannot control how Facebook will evolve over the next few years and they change their algorithm several times. We are trying to control than react to the changes that Facebook makes every now and then. In that context our strategy is to know how and why users are attracted to Facebook. The biggest thing is the response time and the latency of the data shown to a Facebook user and the article shown on my site and Facebook is totally different. The other thing is Facebook personalises what it shows to the user so it will show you the article which you are going to like anyways so I have to see if my site is as fast as Facebook and secondly the list of content item that I am exposing to users on the site are personalised and if these two problems are solved then the chances are the user will spend more time on my site.”
Mihir Karkare, VP, Mirum India said, “I think first and foremost people view Facebook as a place where they are connected with family and friends, that’s how it started originally. As they gave more and more visibility to publishers and brands people actually observed that other platforms could be used to share information and so Instagram and Snapchat gained popularity. So it was a scary thing for Facebook as a fact that a lot of personal sharing shifted to other platforms and that’s one reason why they acquired Instagram and tried the same with Snapchat. There was a format people used to get latest news which was called RSS and that has become a legacy platform now, so as Facebook gets more and more news it becomes like that platform and news gets lesser engagement than personal information like live events. For Facebook it is inevitable that they go back to basics and definitely it will impact brands, but brands too have become their largest source of traffic so now they have to invest more in advertising on the platform and publishers will spend more to distribute content.”
Gautam Mehra, Business Head- Social Media, iProspect India, added, “Publishers are definitely being affected, but if you think about it, Facebook has always prioritised family and friends and if you look at their basic algorithm, no matter how much I may interact with a brand, my interaction with my family will always be more, so any which ways by default the algorithm is always designed to promote family and friends. So the fact that they prioritise family and friends has been happening for a long time but what they will do now is limit the reach that you get organically for pages. So brands have to realise that they have to pay certain price and the price is not that large. The cost per engagement for Facebook is very high even as compared to Google, so I think it’s a modest cost to reach out to the audience and I think Facebook will continue doing this and brands will have to push more and re strategize the whole plan, but I don’t see brands having a negative impact of the whole thing.”