Since Facebook announced, earlier this week, that they’d be making some pretty substantial changes to the news feed there’s been a wave of articles about the site’s dubious role in society.
Everyone from users to publishers to advertisers seems to think that while change is necessary, the site is flailing.
Brian Menegus, of Gizmodo, unfollowed every friend he had on the platform and found that without the feed it’s basically useless:
Since early December, I’ve been systematically clearing everyone and everything from my feed. Most days, nothing remains on the social network I joined 12 years ago
Functionally, nothing else on Facebook’s main page is optional. With the core product absent, a cavalcade of utterly useless features are all that remain, exposing the company’s ad hoc approach to harvesting time and data from users
And while this approach is obviously extreme, it’s kind of appealing to me. Other than blindly scrolling the feed out of habit, the main thing I use Facebook for anymore is events and messaging. Both of these features would be totally usable without the dumpster fire that is the news feed.
As a creator for the web, you’d think I’d be frustrated that publishers are going to have a harder time reaching people in the feed. Honestly though, I’m not. I’ve given up on organic Facebook posts and paid posts to a lesser degree. They require too much faith in a site that is ruthlessly built to keep users in its own bubble.
John Gruber, on Daring Fireball, summed it up better than I could:
…publishers that have relied on Facebook for traffic are fools. The only audience you can count on is an audience you’ve built yourself and have a direct relationship with.
Advertisers seem to be cloaking their frustration behind promises to increase their spend so their posts are seen. However, it’s telling that the Wall Street Journal includes this quote in their piece on the changes:
The new changes are “practically the nail in the coffin for completely organic posts,” said Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of digital agency 360i. She said brands should now focus on making their paid posts more engaging.
It’s a little mind-numbing to me that we’re still talking so much about organic brand posts in 2018. Shouldn’t advertisers (myself included) have known they couldn’t reach audiences for free forever?
Overal, I think the changes Facebook is proposing will be good for the platform. However, the outcry just keeps building and public trust in the site keeps diminishing. They’re going to have to do a lot more to win back their old reputation.