Why Facebook is Killing the News

In 2013, Facebook announced a push into news. Last week, in the early days of 2018, it’s backing out. The news was announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg late last week, and the change is already taking place on your News Feed. 

“…recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” Zuckerberg posted on his personal Facebook page last Thursday. “It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”

That may seem like a lot of “coach speak” but the gist of it is this — business pages on Facebook are likely to see their reach and engagement plummet. If your website or business has been relying on Facebook for traffic and customers, the honeymoon could be over.

Who will take the biggest hit?

Right now, brands and publishers are set to take the biggest hit from Facebook. Experts say Zuckerberg’s 180-degree tilt in strategy is a direct reflection of today’s tumultuous political climate, in which his company has been accused of complacency in the hi-jacking of the 2016 U.S. election by Russia, and failing to police the spread of unverified news organizations on its platform. Unable or unwilling to clean the well — 126 million people were reached by some 80,000 posts by Kremlin-linked Russian contractors during the election cycle — Facebook is opting to dry it up.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” Zuckerberg said. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

In short: you’ll see fewer posts from brands and more posts of family photos. Zuckerberg knows this move will force people to spend less time on his network by decreasing time spent watching videos and interacting with articles and images from brands, but with 2 billion active users, Facebook has currency to spend.

“Frankly, any publisher relying on Facebook for survival f***** up,” writes the Outline’s Joshua Topolsky. “But there’s a flip side to this. There’s the opportunity for outlets willing to rely less on social networks to set their fate, publishers who have diversified their traffic sources, who have pushed back on Facebook’s News Feed carrots, who have built (or are building) brands that resonate with audiences beyond what can be bought or given. Value not gifted by Facebook could be a very good thing for publishers.”

Last week’s news garnered attention nationwide from the New York Times, CNBC, Adweek, and Tech Crunch. Brands like Buzzfeed, which gained credibility over the social network, suddenly find themselves in peril. As for your tackle shop? It’s a good idea to start diversifying the way you reach customers if you’ve been relying heavily on Facebook.

Outreach capabilities like email lists, SMS lists, and physical addresses are now more valuable than ever. As for that Instagram account you’ve been putting off?

It’s probably time to get it going.