NO PROMO: Facebook to Begin Cutting Back on Promotional Posts from Pages in News Feed

Facebook users are going to like this news, and page administrators will likely not: The social network announced Friday that users will begin seeing fewer promotional posts -- not ads, but posts from pages -- in their News Feeds starting in January.

PromotionalPagePost650Facebook users are going to like this news, and page administrators will likely not: The social network announced Friday that users will begin seeing fewer promotional posts — not ads, but posts from pages — in their News Feeds starting in January.

Facebook defined promotional posts as follows, after surveying users:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an application.
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context.
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads.


The social network said in a Newsroom post announcing the changes to News Feed:

One of the main reasons people come to Facebook is to see what’s happening in their News Feeds. Our goal with News Feed has always been to show people the things they want to see. That’s why we often look to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve. As part of an ongoing survey, we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content.

We dug further into the data to better understand this feedback. What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from pages they like, rather than ads. This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense: News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads (based on engagement, hiding ads, etc.), but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional page posts. Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from pages.

Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place — as more people and pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.

This change will not increase the number of ads people see in their News Feeds. The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories — including page posts — people see in their News Feeds. This change is about giving people the best Facebook experience possible and being responsive to what they have told us.

While pages that post a lot of the content we mention above will see a significant decrease in distribution, the majority of pages will not be impacted by this change. For further guidance, we recommend that pages refer to our Facebook for Business post here.

Facebook added in the Facebook for Business post:

We know this change might raise questions about pages and their role.

Pages still matter — a lot. They offer a free, easy-to-maintain online presence for people to discover and learn about a business. They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration, and contain complete information about a business. They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events that bring a business’ story to life.

What many businesses may not realize is that pages are an important destination for their current and potential customers. In October, for instance, nearly 1 billion people visited Facebook pages. Of those visits, more than 750 million happened on mobile devices. Many businesses also use pages as a customer-service channel. Businesses should think about their page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service. The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their page.

And it’s important to note that Facebook is increasing its investment in pages. Given the substantial traffic to pages, we are exploring ways to build more features into pages. A lot of this is in response to how we’re seeing people interact with business pages. Some of these interactions include messaging to communicate with a business directly or browsing video and photo content. We’re also exploring ways to better customize pages based on the industry a business is in, similar to how we rolled out menu sections for restaurant pages.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s most recent change to its News Feed algorithm? David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.