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What does Facebook’s news feed shake-up mean for online retail?

"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.”

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

Mark Zuckerberg

 

Facebook has come under fire plenty of times for, among other things, its content curation. It has (so the allegations go at least) facilitated the spread of misinformation (fake news as it’s known these days), remained passive in the face of widespread online abuse, and consistently failed to manage the removal of violent images and videos from the site.

In a public effort to make Facebook better for the wellbeing of its users and the public, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg intends to alter the way the site’s news feed functions. User content is due to enjoy greater prominence at the expense of content from media and business.

What does this mean for online retailers who use Facebook in their marketing efforts?

We asked our members for their thoughts.

 

Megan Proctor, Programmatic Manager, Epiphany

Facebook has been heading this way for a while, with a lot of organic posts only reaching around 5% of a brand’s followers, thus seeing brands turning to paid social to increase the reach. This has had little impact in terms of pricing so far on Paid posts.

This change is only a positive thing for paid social as it declutters the newsfeed, allowing your brand the opportunity to stand out. Facebook’s goal in changing the newsfeed is to shift users from being passive to being actively engaged. This, in turn, will drive more interaction with ads, so making the ads more valuable from a paid point of view.

As long as marketers ensure that what they place in the ad format / space is well-targeted, timely and relevant, then the content should be well received by the user. And it doesn't have to be an 'ad' as we know it — it could be interesting snippet of video with annotations, clever use of the carousel, or useful information for the user to engage with the brand, for example, canvas ads.

So it’s about how we can be clever with the space, still placing the same content in some cases, but it appearing to more relevant people; the targeting capabilities on paid ensure you can be hyper-relevant with the content you place and now in a less cluttered environment.

Barbara Cichello, Director of Marketing – Europe, LiveArea

The recent announcement from Facebook shows what has been clear for a long time. Digital advertising, as it is now, simply doesn’t work.

Retailers will have to develop creative solutions and strategies in order to deliver advertising that first of all is not intrusive, is not interrupting the digital experience, is not irrelevant and is not unwanted.

Digital advertising should be first and foremost USEFUL. It should be innovative and creative, insight-led and discreet. It should enhance the consumer experience. It shouldn’t be a disturbance.

This change requires effort and commitment and retailers should challenge their marketing departments and agencies to change the status quo and deliver something that adds value to the consumer experience.

 

So, not a disaster, it seems.

These changes, should they go ahead, should represent an opportunity. Retailers will possibly see the engagement with what they share become, on the whole, more worthwhile.

Irritating posts can do damage to the brand, and if ‘meaningful interaction’ is the order of the day, then this reform encourages promotional communications that help (or at least please) the shoppers they’re trying to reach.

 

Further reading

5 trends that will change social media in 2018

How to use Facebook Ads for your online retail objectives

3 Trends To Help You Plan Your Social Media Strategy In Online Retail

 

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