Facebook’s latest Explore Feed addition could weaken engagement impact for Pages

Facebook has been sparking criticism from users and advertisers after it changed the way that Pages content will appear on users’ news feeds.

The social media network has been testing a new Explore Feed option in six countries including Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka. The Explore Feed aims to motivate people to discover content by moving content from Pages out of the news feed and into the new feed section.

Naturally, advertisers have begun to worry that they now will be charged to keep Pages content appearing in Facebook user news feeds.

Originally, the Explore Feed was intended to showcase similar content based on user interest. It was supposed to be a dedicated space for publishers to circulate their contents. However, feedback from test markets is finding that people are seeing posts from Pages which they follow across the feed.

If the change goes ahead, it could have a negative impact on Pages. Indeed, a recent The Guardian story found that engagement levels of the top 60 Facebook Pages in Slovenia dropped dramatically due to them being moved to the Explore Feed.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed, said in a blog post:

“The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in news feed or explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention.”

Although promoted posts will still appear in a user’s news feed, if Pages posts disappear from the news feed altogether, the feed will become a playing field for larger advertisers and essentially push aside smaller Pages which do not have the cash to keep their posts promoted.

Rahul Chadha, Analyst at eMarketer adds:

“Whatever Facebook’s intentions, the experience underscores just how much control the platform exerts over the companies and organizations that supply it with content. Facebook has already established a trend of unilaterally implementing significant changes to its platform that can have a dramatic effect on its content creators.”