It’s time to brace ourselves once again for a portentous change from the endlessly mutating digital organism that is Facebook. We all tend to shift uncomfortably when a platform as globally significant as this one announces a big shift in the interface that has the power to affect all users, and this one is no exception.
The change we’re referring to is a new discovery focused ‘explore feed’ that has recently been passed through the testing phase. In a nutshell, the new feed has been created by Facebook in response to feedback from users who say they want an easier way to view posts from family and friends without the congestion of information from businesses, or pages that they’ve previously liked.
The solution they are experimenting with will separate some publishers content from personal by banishing it to the explore feed, which is unfortunately not particularly easy to locate, being buried in a separate tab on devices and on a left hand rail on the web version.
Currently, Facebook is only rolling out this new format in selected international territories such as Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia with no plans to facilitate the change globally. However the mere suggestion has publishers quaking in their boots after reports of a significant drop in organic reach for those in affected regions.
The rationale behind the move is that the new feed will help users discover fresh content beyond what they’ve already liked, by using its intuitive algorithms to select articles, photos and videos from sources that you are yet to discover. At this stage no advertising has appeared in the explore feed so presumably advertising will be ‘business as usual’ in the regular feed. And for businesses sake let’s hope so.
‘We are beginning to roll out a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, automatically customised for each person based on content that might be interesting to them,’ a Facebook spokesperson said. ‘We’ve heard from people that they want an easy way to explore relevant content from Pages they haven’t connected with yet.’ Or is there a further agenda to increase opportunities to monetise the platform? We feel this is an important change with potentially significant repercussions. One to watch.