Facebook has just unleashed a trial of Facebook Explore, an alternative News Feed that will change how content is promoted if rolled out internationally. Whenever the social media giant does something like this, marketers have a tendency to respond with panic, but what does it actually mean?
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The feature has already been available on mobile devices for a while, though it’s slightly hidden in the navigation menu. However, in selected countries it’s now being rolled out to desktop users too.
Facebook Explore aims to help users discover content outside their normal circles, promoting articles and videos outside of the Pages and friends a person already follows. This encourages brands to design unique content for the platform, rather than linking to items that are published elsewhere.
Ultimately, this rewards brands that keep users on Facebook, rather than redirecting them to another site to engage them.
The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management.
But what does it mean for brands that use the social network to boost awareness?
I spoke to our Social Engagement experts, Rachel and Joanne, to find out how Facebook Explore will change things. They both believe it’s a further push from Facebook to prioritise paid content over organic.
In the countries where Facebook is testing it out (Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka), Page posts will be removed from the News Feed. Only paid promotions (ie. ads) will be shown on the main page and users will have to navigate the Explore tab to find posts from their favourite Pages.
It means that brands using Facebook to direct traffic to their own website may see a drop in referrals. However, the specifics of how Facebook’s Explore tab will decide which content to prioritise is still unclear.
Organic engagement is likely to suffer for many marketers, but Facebook already stifles this type of content in favour of paid marketing. Facebook Explore means paid promotion is the most surefire way of ensuring you reach your audience.
Slightly scary stuff for social media managers – testing of Facebook Explore reveals huge drops in reach. https://t.co/hGSd7uzNDq
— #DMCollective Awards (@GoWithTheProUK) October 21, 2017
At the moment, it appears as though your content will still be shown – whether paid or organic – if another user has liked or shared it. This means – along with paid promotion – engagement will become an even more crucial element of Facebook marketing strategies. It also increases the importance of working with influencers.
It’s still important to be original though; you need your own content to genuinely engage and offer something new to users that they’re not getting elsewhere.
However, it offers marketers a valuable opportunity too. The Explore Feed allows users to discover your brand if they’ve liked or shared similar content previously. This means that if you find it difficult to compete with bigger companies – and their bigger marketing budgets – the alternative News Feed can help you identify the areas and topics that your content should focus on to ‘steal’ their audience.
Although it’s only currently being trialled in six countries, many marketers think there will be an international rollout ahead. It’s clear that it’s not all doom and gloom and Facebook Explore offers a great opportunity for brands to think about how their marketing strategies engage audiences.
These are some of the discussions happening around the Facebook Explore update:
— Gemma Lloyd (@thesocialmum) October 25, 2017
— Colin Jacobs (@ColinJacobs) October 25, 2017
— lisa skube (@lskube) October 23, 2017
We will keep you informed as it develops and we implement content marketing strategies for our clients to help them make the best of this Facebook update.
If you have any questions about how this can impact your social media strategy and the success of your content marketing activities, get in touch with us!Download the Social Media Advertising Handbook