What is changing about Facebook advertising?
Well, officially, nothing at the moment. It’s what could change about business pages that has the potential to completely change the weight and relative importance of advertising on the world’s largest social media network.
Recently, Facebook ran tests in six countries where all the posts created by businesses were removed from the newsfeed and instead put into an entirely separate tab called “Explore.” The results were clear: this significantly reduced organic reach and interactions (likes, comments, shares) for these posts. That was for large media pages: the impact on smaller pages may be even more profound.
Now, this is just a test. It may never be something that Facebook ever implements here in the United States, or anywhere else, for that matter. However, it’s worth noting that it’s part of a long-running pattern of reducing organic reach for businesses. And, if this was implemented, it would be the death knell for many current social media strategies and organic posting.
How does this impact Facebook advertising?
During recent tests, something else was observed: paid Facebook advertising and boosted posts were not relegated to the “Explore” tab, but instead were placed in the newsfeed.
Effectively, this test illustrates a pay-to-play structure where companies will increasingly and more consistently feed dollars into ads and posts to get in front of their prospective or current customers.
Let’s be fair to Facebook: they are certainly not alone. In many ways, they’re only following a model set out by Google, who has increased the number, prominence, and length of paid ads at the expense of organic search results.
In spite of their ubiquitousness and cultural relevance in our lives, Facebook and Google are not public services or utilities. It’s their ball, their playground. They set the rules.
What are the implications of this?
If this test—again, only run in six countries—was brought to the United States as a full rollout, it would require a major shift in how agencies and marketing companies managed client social media campaigns.
It’s very possible that the costs (in time) of creating organic content could outweigh the benefits, leading some companies to ditch creating that content altogether and refocus their time and energy on paid campaigns.
It’s too early to make that determination: first, this would need to be introduced, and then we would need to first get data about how this impacts pages, reach, interactions, and more.
Again, let us emphasize: this isn’t a change that has happened yet, and it may not ever see a full rollout. However, the fact that Facebook is testing it—combined with their prior actions with pages—indicate they are at least considering the concept, or something like it.