Whenever Google makes changes in its search algorithm, the SEO community goes crazy. When Facebook implements news feed updates, it is the international media that go on a tailspin.
Such was the case this week when Facebook announced changes in the way News Feeds are displayed for its 1.44 billion active users.
Very briefly, the latest set of updates have to do with further personalizing the way content from friends and Pages are streamed in one’s feed. Before, updates from people and brands were given priority based on a particular user’s previous depth of engagement with them –for instance, liking, commenting on, or sharing their posts, as determined by Facebook’s algorithm.
But the new updates offered something more radical than all these: Instead of relying on Facebook to automatically determine the posts that appear on one’s feed, users now have a fuller control on what they want to see. Once this is rolled out, Updated Controls for News Feed users can now select for themselves which friends and Pages they would like to see at the top of their News Feed.
Within News Feed Preferences, tap on a friend’s profile picture to see their posts first. You will then see any new stories they’ve shared since your last visit to Facebook at the top of News Feed, with a star in the top right of their post so you know why they’re at the top. You can scroll down to see the rest of your News Feed normally.
Journalists were quick to give their takeaways from this. Wired Magazine said the latest update made sure that your favorite friends rise to the top of your feeds. A blogger from Slate said the move is an admission from Facebook ‘that you might know better about yourself than it does,’ while PC Magazine said the update just ‘made it easier for users to stalk their friends.’
Apart from the way you see your friends’ posts, the latest set of updates also allow people to customize the Pages they want to see more often in the feed, and this can either be a bane or a boon for brands who rely on Facebook to remain relevant in social media. Remember that in the Philippines alone, there are about 35 million active Facebook users, more than daily circulation of all Philippine newspapers combined, and it is the first time that people will have the final say on whether or not they still want to see your brand in their feeds.
Truth be told, the questions not solely about Facebook users deciding if they want to see your brand; it is more about your brand taking the time to finally answer the question, “Are we really relevant to our audience in social media?”
This is a question that both local brands and digital marketing agencies in the Philippines continue to ignore. Many still use Facebook as a mere extension of their ad campaigns, a place where they could repurpose their print ads and TVCs to gain eyeballs. They employ the same interruption marketing techniques that have worked for them in the traditional media, hoping to get the same results on Facebook.
But Facebook is not about interruption. If anything, it is the embodiment of what Seth Godin referred to as permission marketing. People have to actually “Like” and follow your brand for them to start seeing content from you. In the same manner, your content has to resonate with them in order for them to remain interested in you. Reality check, they are not interested in your print ads, your digital poster, your AVPs, or your press releases.
The control Facebook now affords its users should really prompt brands to take content marketing a serious look. Making noise is not enough. Social media marketing in the Philippines is not solely about news about your company, it is the experience that your market wants to have with you. Publishing content that both your brand and your target audiences care about will ensure people keep you up there in their feeds.
The latest Facebook news feeds update should serve as your final wake up call. All the investment your company made in promoting page likes and boosting your self-serving posts will mean nothing once users finally tell you to shut up.
As of writing, the new Facebook settings is available in its IOS app. These will be made available in Android and desktops versions in the coming weeks.