Friends, Family…and Facebook


12 Jan 2018

Friends, Family…and Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg turned his attention to sentimentality and compassion this morning, by announcing that Facebook would be altering their algorithms to prioritise family and friends’ generated content in users’ newsfeeds. Citing that this would ensure “more meaningful social interactions” for users (what’s more meaningful than an online ‘like’ from your mate?), it comes at a potential detriment to businesses who have invested time and resource into building large social followings and keeping customers engaged with their content.  The change could see newsfeed split into two threads, with businesses being side-lined to a commercial feed.

Penna’s Head of Digital Strategy and Data Jim Bloor has argued that this should actually be seen as a good thing – Facebook is one of the most over-saturated social media platforms in terms of irrelevant content being fed through to your newsfeed, so the change should indeed achieve Zuckerberg’s ‘compassion’ objective. However, it does mean that publishers will have to work harder. For universities in particular, it will mean more time and resource spent to target audiences to interact with their pages. It is early to call, however we anticipate that students ‘liking’ university generated content will ensure the university appears in the student’s personal newsfeed. The branding opportunities are big, albeit not easy to achieve.

Furthermore, it may well improve advertising on Facebook with less white noise in newsfeeds. Advertising is a huge revenue generator for the social media giant so it is unlikely that Facebook would want to reduce the prominence of paid-for content. The cynic in us quips that Facebook may well be introducing this change to add further value to their advertising. For example, previously publishers have enjoyed free reach on Facebook just by producing good content and people interacting with it via likes, shares, and comments. If a page has 100k+ followers, you only need to post content and, provided it isn’t terrible, it will gain huge organic reach via user interaction – and Facebook cannot monetise that.

So, by playing the sentimentality card and prioritising friends and family, will brands have to advertise to get their fair audience share? Watch this space.


Oona Venermo

Client Manager, Recruitment Solutions