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Newsfeed Changes on Facebook

by Jo Shaer, on December 12, 2013

Back in March, Facebook announced that there would be changes to its Newsfeed to ensure consistency across all devices.

What Facebook wanted to achieve with their new news feed

To a loud fanfare, they talked about how the black vertical menu bar that we see on mobile would now appear on your desktop and tablet.

Consistency is good - we were happy.

But then they started talking about how it was going to be all about visuals but also more about choice.

They said wanted Facebook to be like a newspaper or magazine.

But a personalised newspaper or magazine which has:

  • the important stories from your family and friends AND
  • info from the pages of businesses and public figures that you follow
  • And with a function that would allow users to be able to filter these messages.

At that time, newsfeed content was 30% from Pages rather than individuals.

They told us that the newsfeed would be split into several individual feeds:

All Friends
Most Recent
Close Friends

So, if you put up a photo, it would appear in the Photos AND Following newsfeeds of your fans

Why the new news feed was bad for businesses on Facebook

However, this spelled bad news for businesses. With the new Newsfeed, users would be able to choose to look at content posted only from their fans.

This meant that, even if someone liked and followed your business page, they might never see your updates because they could filter them out by only looking at the content posted by their friends. They never actually had to go into the news feed dedicated to those pages or people they were following. So the only way businesses could get in front of their fans was to pay for a sponsored advertisement.

Even without the new news feed, we started to see more and more sponsored stories. That's where businesses can use the page likes of our friends and post an ad in our news feed which says *Name Of Our Friend* likes *Name Of Business Page*. But then Google started to do it too. And Google offered an opt out! Suddenly, Facebook felt compelled to keep up with Google and offer a similar way to stop businesses from using our behaviour to promote their products without our permission.

So where is the new news feed?

Yesterday, I was chatting with the lovely Ian from The Social Golfer.com and I told him that we still had not seen these new news feed arrangements here in the UK. But, more importantly, nor had most of my colleagues in the US.

I told him how I felt that Facebook had rather shot themselves in the foot. Yes, by making it harder for fans to see the content of businesses, it would encourage more ads. But, by the same token, they were making it harder and harder for businesses to actually get their ads approved. The 20% text rule is policed in a very inconsistent fashion. And, in some cases, the reasons why ads are rejected is just plain wrong. And the explanation almost illiterate.

One cannot help wondering if Facebook have taken a leaf out of Google's book and outsourced this process to a cheaper labour force outside of the US.

My visit to a local secondary school revealed that the next generation of users hate the ads and are fairly ambivalent about the possibilities of using Facebook to promote a business. The business owners of my acquaintance are fed up with building up their fan base only to see Facebook stop showing their status updates to any of their fans... unless they pay.

What was supposed to be a trade off - you get a free platform but you have to see a few ads has become an overwhelm of irrelevant content. You only have to be a member of a few social media manager groups to know that people regualarly suffer with abuse in the comments sections of their adverts. You're supposed to be able to target your ads very finely... but clearly something isn't working properly.

So, it was interesting to see this article about the new news feed not coming to the rest of us plebs any time soon.

And this one on how users who have been able to use the new news feed have complained about it.

With thanks to Shawn at Interactabel for drawing these to my attention and prompting me to find the notes I originally made about the new changes.


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