3 Things Marketers Need to Know About the Upcoming Changes to Facebook's News Feed

1. It's Good for the Typical Person on Facebook, So It Ultimately Serves Brands and Publishers

Last week, Facebook announced that it would begin de-prioritizing overly promotional page posts in News Feeds beginning January 2015.

First - let's look at the ecosystem of Facebook itself, in which quality content must always come first. Facebook is first and foremost a place for people to connect with friends and loved ones, and any surrounding content must add value to, and never detract from, this core function.

We already knew this implicitly -- Facebook is merely making this explicit to ward off offenders. Without valuable, relevant and entertaining content to compliment the core "friend and family" experience on the platform, Facebook loses much of its value to the consumer and runs the risk of harming their experience (and their time spent on the platform, ultimately). Which would be bad news for the brands and publishers who have spent massive time and resources building up their social communities.

This means that, for brands and publishers that are already publishing engaging content, they can attract attention for, and offer more of, the kind of content their audience wants to see. And the environment will be less cluttered. It's business as usual.

2. Engagement, Impressions and Reach are Higher than Ever - But It's Time to Diversify

In the past year, even as Facebook has made continuous updates to the News Feed, U.S. brands have seen positive returns on the platform and social engagement has more than doubled:


But what's also clear from the chart above, is that it's important for marketers to look beyond a Facebook-only approach. As audience attention continues to fragment across multiple touch points, diversifying a brand's social presence will ensure coverage, new reach and sustainable ongoing results -- without the risk of having all of one's eggs in one basket.

3. We're (Un)blurring the Line between Ads, and Content -- and That's a Good Thing

Whenever an emerging media matures, there is a natural leveling out of best practices, and some clearer definitions made so that all stakeholders can monetize. In online video, ads and content reporting have been kept separate since 2010, in comScore's Video Metrix. Yet, in social media the line between ads and content has been intensely blurry to date.

In TV, there is clear delineation between commercial breaks and the 'main event,' even though those spots make the programming possible. Infomercials, product placement and sponsored content walk the line, and right now in social media we're similarly having to think about where we draw the line between ads and content.

While it is still unclear exactly what constitutes 'promotional,' the message is clear: if your organic Facebook post reads more like a 30-second spot, then it's an ad and won't be allowed to be classified as content. Which, speaking as both a researcher and as a Facebook user, is completely fine by me.