How will social media marketing be affected by new changes to the Facebook interface? As part of a continuing war on the widespread misuse of the platform, the social networking giant has announced that it plans to relegate news to a dedicated tab, separate from users’ ordinary feeds.
If it works as planned, this will cut down on the proliferation of false and misleading stories that masquerade as news in order to promote an agenda. It’s a worthwhile goal and it may even be worth paying a cost to achieve it. But we must acknowledge that the means to that end could have an adverse impact on some legitimate uses of Facebook, especially for social media marketing.
At the same time that there are fake stories passing themselves off as real news, there are also many examples of content that technically is fact-based news, but also has a promotional angle. Of course, in the political sense, this describes a lot of the material you’ll see on Fox News or MSNBC. And since Facebook will probably be licensing content from such outlets, it will probably still be viewable on the news tab.
But agenda-oriented news is also a staple of social media marketing. For that matter, it has always been a staple of traditional marketing in the form of things like press releases. But social media marketing provided companies both large and small with an opportunity to reach consumers directly. It let them present facts about their products or their industry alongside standard-fare news stories, right within a consumer’s news feed.
Social media marketing also tends to rely on platforms’ algorithms to connect news-oriented advertisements to the types of consumers who are most likely to be interested. This could be based on their previous consumption of straight news, or their history of viewing and sharing fake stories. Inevitably, now that those two features of Facebook will supposedly be separated from one another, the algorithm is going to change.
It remains to be seen what impact this has on the field of social media marketing. But it’s sure to have some impact, and it is probably something that a Los Angeles social media company and its clients will have to examine together, in the interest of revising their strategy and taking full advantage of all the current realities of the social media landscape.