The end of the calendar year always brings predictions about the following one. Sports, tech, politics, entertainment…..you name it. Predictions galore. Like a BuzzFeed snack, sometimes you can’t help but gobble up predictions. So I wonder what’s in store for Facebook in 2016?
I’m not one for excessive prognosticating. I just try to be very reactive to what’s going on now and try to figure out what’s next based on current trends, thought leaders and then including a bit of what has worked in the past to influence the future.
I’ve been on Facebook since 2007. Before that, it was Friendster and MySpace. There was a time when I thought Facebook would eventually spiral, much like Friendster and MySpace did, but clearly it didn’t. Facebook is here to stay – contrary to popular belief, kids aren’t abandoning it (see teen usage chart below) and people of all ages are still all over it. But I do have some gripes.
For one, in the last year or so, I have a big issue with relevancy in my newsfeed. This applies to both native advertising (paid) and organic content. For example, look at this one, where someone I have never heard of and am not connected to (Rickie Peterson) posted a message to someone I am connected with (Chris Cote).
I am sure that Facebook’s algorithm somehow deemed this worthy of my newsfeed, but guess what? It’s not. I do enjoy Chris Cote’s posts, but I do not need to see messages to him on his newsfeed from people I don’t know.
Here’s another one. A Facebook friend of mine (John Listovich), in two consecutive posts in my Newsfeed, liked a Huffington Post article and also an article about the Philadelphia Eagles and Kiko Alonso (shaded in blue). I never read the Huffington Post and I’m not a fan of the Eagles or Kiko Alonso. Why does Facebook deem these relevant to my newsfeed?
Look, I know I can block content from John Listovich or Chris Cote, but I actually enjoy seeing their updates, so I don’t want to block them. And I don’t think I can change settings to only see updates from John or Chris, but block all other activity (what posts they like, etc). I could be wrong there.
Advertising is a whole different ball of wax. Those ads you see on your Facebook page are generally called “Native Advertising.” You can see more about that here. It basically means an ad that looks like a regular person’s post or content.
Now, native advertising can be very very good if it’s targeted well, is relevant to you and is…..human. In other words, not a TV commercial or some generic ad.
When Marketers are buying ads on Facebook, they have the ability to slice-and-dice who sees the ads in amazing ways. You know how in your Facebook profile, you list off your favorite shows, bands, sports, companies, where you work, etc? Well, marketers can target you using these attributes.
I did this very often at my last job. I probably put together hundreds of Facebook ads containing all kinds of content, new and old. It worked wonders and generated a lot of site visits and some purchase activity from new users. They even give you an opportunity to advertise to audiences who are similar to the ones who are following your business page. It’s awesome – when done correctly.
When it’s not done correctly, though…..ugh. Now, who’s to say when it’s done correctly or not? I guess it’s all subjective. Here’s an ad that I see in my newsfeed that I’ve been targeted for, but have nothing in my profile that would indicate I should see this and I don’t believe it’s retargeting (definition here) because I haven’t been to this site or searched for any product remotely like this. But there’s something in my Facebook profile that caused Luma to target me. I just don’t know what it is.
The trouble is that I’m seeing a lot more of these ads lately than I ever have before. It’s getting noisy. If the noise (i.e., native advertising) was actually very well done content that I was really interested in, I’d be totally ok with it. But I’m not.
So is this the way it’s going to be on Facebook for 2016? Will I see this more or will they keep making changes to their algorithm that smooth it out? Who knows, I can’t predict the future. But I can tell you this – I’m far less inclined these days to really explore my Facebook feed like I used to.
I’d really love to hear from Facebook users, particularly long-time users, about how you’re looking at Facebook in 2016. Are you seeing content that isn’t relevant to you or annoys you? Are you getting to the ledge when it comes to Facebook? Or is it just me? Leave a comment below – and check out Meet Me on the Ledge, one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands of the ’90s.