Facebook is at it again with potential updates that could decimate small publishers that rely on articles shares via social media for the majority of their traffic. A test version of Facebook, which features two separate news feeds, is currently live in six countries and social media marketers are worried.
If the update rolls out for all Facebook users, expect a pretty major change. The testing version introduces two separate Facebook feeds, one with updates from your family and friends, and an “Explore” feed with public content (like that cute dog video compilation and articles with celebrity gossip). Advertisements and sponsored content appear to still show up in the main “family and friends” feed.
Testing for this beta version is currently live in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka. According to The Guardian, publications that serve these audiences are already seeing a 60-80% decrease in post-update engagement.
So what would this mean for businesses and websites that rely on Facebook for increased views and purchases? They’re going to have to start coughing up the dough if they want any chance of their posts being seen. The lack of organic visibility that dual-feed Facebook offers could mean the end of many small online publishers and a dramatic decrease in traffic for those that rely on Facebook for a great deal of their traffic.
But even if brands do put the dollars behind their content, click through rate is still likely to suffer. At the end of the day, people are resistant to sponsored content and less likely to click or interact with it online. And when a sponsored post about car insurance is showing up in a feed that’s now entirely baby announcements and photos of grandma’s 82nd birthday, it makes it even easier for users to see—and avoid—this type of content.
Is this potential update Facebook’s way of genuinely trying to make their platform better, or is it just a cash grab that small businesses will pay the price for? We’ll see what happens and if this test version makes it to the mainstream.
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