To kick off 2018, Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a list of “resolutions” on the site, mostly vowing to fix what he’d broken. Coming off a tumultuous two years, beginning with the 2016 election and ending with the charges of fake news on the platform in 2017—Facebook announced Thursday new changes to its feed to make interactions more “meaningful.”
What this means for publishers and news outlet is up in the air.
The New York Times reported the changes, which include prioritizing content from friends on the platform and downgrading posts from news outlets, publications and brands.
“This big wave of public content has really made us reflect: What are we really here to do? If what we’re here to do is help people build relationships, then we need to adjust,” Zuckerberg is quoted in the Times story.
To Facebook, this change means dubious “news” outlets spreading fake information will be less likely to show up on the feeds of its users. Last month, the company dropped the “disputed” flag that had come to denote a fake story, with little information about what comes next. The tweaks to the feed appear to be that answer.
The problem, though, is that Facebook built much of its current feed through teaching brands and outlets to cater to its algorithmic code, bolstering its business with advertising and sponsored content.
The monetary repercussions for publications and brands that have come to rely on the site as part of their revenue will have a negative temporary effect, according to analysts. However, the long-term effect could be positive, with brands learning how to target specific audiences rather than sending out a watered-down message to the entirety of a feed.
With rumored changes looming on the horizon, some outlets began to readjust ahead of the announcement. Publications planned to partially mitigate losses and navigate the changes through the use of groups.
While the group aspect of Facebook severely limits the number of people who see a post and may not drive the same amount of traffic back to a publication’s homepage, members will continue to see a publication or brand’s presence.
The changes to Facebook again illustrate how difficult it is for brands to establish consistent, reliable avenues of revenue. What once seemed like a great avenue for stability—social media—has become a new hurdle to surmount. But brands may pivot to a better strategy with greater effect.