What Becomes of Facebook in 2014?

Posted on December 28th 2013

What Becomes of Facebook in 2014?

Facebook in 2014

It’s interesting reading the many discussions on what Facebook will be in 2014. The social network has become an integral part of people’s lives, personal and business, and the latest changes to its NewsFeed, filter algorithms and advertising models have many nervous about what to expect. It’s hard to say whether the changes will have a positive or negative effect on the user experience – which is what the company is touting as the main focus of their changes – though it is clear that Facebook is riding a very fine line between necessary profit growth and ongoing user demand. Here are a few of the major changes and their potential impacts:

1. The addition of play-now video ads in your NewsFeed. This one is being flagged as a major concern from regular, non-business users. The addition of play-now video ads has already begun, with a number of users now seeing these come up. You scroll past them and they mute out and you can go on with what you’re doing, but the potential annoyance factor is high. Annoying enough to turn users away from Facebook? Not likely, but definitely one which would seem to have more impact on the user experience than benefit. This addition opens up a whole new revenue stream for Facebook, so it makes perfect sense that they would be going down this path, but it could be the beginning of the end, depending on how it’s adopted. Possibly.

2. Changes to the NewsFeed algorithms to improve ‘quality’ of user experience. This has been an extremely contentious issue, though one not all regular users are fully aware of. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm weights the relevance of all updates that appear in people’s NewsFeeds. This may mean that status update you just posted will not be seen by all your friends, which somewhat goes against the ethos of Facebook in the first place (though the impacts of updates from ‘Friends’ is relatively minimal). Facebook has expressed its intention to create an online newspaper type feel to the site, with the content tailored to you, but a part of that is the addition of, effectively, an editorial process and the rules governing what appears and what does not are tricky. The underlying motivation is that Facebook wants to push businesses towards paying to reach their followers and fans by diluting their ability to connect to those who’ve ‘Liked’ their brand-page organically. This is likely to become more prevalent in 2014, which will drive more businesses to funnel users towards their own websites and away from Facebook. The impact of this is impossible to determine, but it really highlights that fine line Facebook is tip-toeing.

3. The focus on targeted advertising. As with the changes to the NewsFeed, Facebook is hoping more users will interact more with ads to give them more data on what they want, enabling them to improve their individual experience by ensuring the ads they see are of relevance to them. The problem is, most regular users don’t see Facebook as an advertising medium - they want to connect with their friends, not be confronted with sales pitches. Advertising is a necessary part of the business, and as Facebook grows, so does the impetus for increased revenue generation. The underlying idea of targeted ads makes sense, that Facebook wants to ensure they’re not spamming users with stuff their not interested in, but the practical roll-out of this model is problematic. The other potential impact is for small businesses – Facebook has announced that it will focus on small business advertising to capitalise on the millions of small business pages it’s currently hosting – which they, of course, need to do, but as they push towards a paid advertising model, how will those small businesses compete against bigger players for space? And if all of them want to pay for targeted ads, will there be enough room for users to share content with their friends?

No doubt Facebook has some of the answers to these questions, while others will be causing the executives headaches every day. It would seem way too early to be predicting the demise of the largest social network in the world, but some have suggested the writing is on the wall. While the changes will introduce a raft of new challenges for business, they also bring new opportunities which, if utilised well, will remain a key part of any brand strategy. But they also highlight the need to remain active on other social networks and monitor the progress of user migrations, staying in touch with more audience share whilst also leveraging against potential fall-out from ongoing Facebook updates.

Photo Credit: Facebook's Upcoming Year/shutterstock

adhutchinson

Andrew Hutchinson

Writer/Consultant, adh

Andrew Hutchinson is an internationally published author, award-winning blogger and social media consultant from Melbourne, Australia. He has more than 12 years experience working in media monitoring, helping clients locate, evaluate and action keyword occurrences in all forms of traditional and digital media. He's also a Hootsuite Ambassador for the APAC region and one of the 'Best Thinkers' on leading social media news website Social Media Today. If you're looking for a writer for your business, or advice on how to maximise your digital media presence, please go to www.andrewhutchinson.com.au for more information.

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Comments

Martin Siegel
Posted on January 3rd 2014 at 4:14AM

Until Facebook  truly grasps what relationship marketing is. they are missing the boat.  Sucessful company? YES! Profitable cpompany? YES!  Marketing experts= NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!!!!!

The MANTRA FOR 2014 is building LIFELONG, PROFITABLE  relationships with your clients(customers)

By caputuring every piece of geograhpic ,demographic and psysographic you can can.Remember "100 "likes on your web site means NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!  It SDOESN"T SELL PRODUCT!!!!

When Favebook puts their focus on hiring the best
Marketing (NOT SOCIAL MEDIA)monds, They will comtrol the market! Untril that time, Google is head ansd shoulders above them .

Talking Finger
Posted on January 6th 2014 at 3:31PM

Unfortunately, the article same time next year may read "Where Did Facebook Go Wrong". I love Facebook. I have used it since 2007 personally, and have built a social media agency around it (at first years ago...when it was the main player...now of course it is just one of dozens of social networks that are utilized for business). 

Facebook is killing themselves with businesses of small and medium size: the very businesses they should have embraced for the long haul. Shrinking organic Reach with pay-per ads and Boosted Posts becoming the only means to survive for most. 

As an admin of over 140 Pages, and a top social agency in Connecticut, we talk to a LOT of businesses using social media. They are continually becoming upset with Facebook and moving away to other social networks. 

When they see organic Reach, something they have spent in some cases hundreds to many thousands of hours to create, and ad dollars in various increments wasted for "more more more" with diminishing returns...they are getting annoyed. Posts now that used to Reach 1000's are barely making three digits. Even with paying for them, even with spectacular well thought out content that has been successful for them...they are losing their audience...rather the audience is being stripped away...little by little. 

Everyone is fine with paying a little here and there. It is understandable. But to take fans AWAY by forcing a business to pay to re-engage them after years of work is a slap in the face.

Facebook better smarten up. They lost the youth, they will start losing businesses in droves, and soon their audience will be people not willing to pay ANYTHING to stay connected. 

6 one way half a dozen another
Posted on January 9th 2014 at 12:44AM

I plan on steering a couple of family members who have FB pages towards Pinterest due to this slowdown in organic reach. They do not have the budgets to pay for posts, let alone ads. Also, more personally, I will not be getting the FB app for mobile due to the auto-play videos. It is not so much the ads, per se, but the fact that I don't like auto-play video no matter the content it is displaying. Intrusive and annoying, at least I can stop it from playing from my desktop browser. Facebook is certainly at a crossroads this year whether they believe it or not.