Facebook experimented with separating personal and business news feeds on their platform and failed miserably. People have had enough with fake news on Facebook and other social media channels while publishers are trying every trick in the books to attract more readers, which in return is turning Facebook users ‘off’ the platform.
Experimenting with News Feeds Was Not Justified
Websites Experience Drastic Decrease in Facebook Traffic
One would argue that the experiment was conducted only in relatively small countries like Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Bolivia, Cambodia, Serbia and Slovakia. It was an optional choice for Facebook users in the United States. We will not dig into some ethical questions about validating a business idea using your own social networking platform.
But Facebook’s experiment involved also a new business approach where the platform gives priority to pages that spend money on advertising, further encouraging the spread of news stories and brand messages designed with the sole purpose to sell. Which is what users are tired of.
Lessons from Facebook’s News Feed Test
There is no debate whether Facebook playing with their news feed was a failure or not. Lessons from the failed experimentation are more important.
- Lesson number one, you cannot force businesses to pay extra for a service when other companies provide similar service – even if you are de facto monopoly. The average business user will prefer another platform to yours.
- Lesson number two, you cannot deny users access to meaningful company news and brand messages.
- Lesson number three, you cannot fight fake news as well as aggressive sales messages on your social platform by providing separate news feeds with limited capabilities.
Overall, experimenting with a largely paid version of a Facebook feed for news by businesses and content publishers was a bad and counter-productive idea from the very beginning.
Every media-monitoring expert will tell you that even small brands want their meaningful content to compete on equal terms with content by large brands. Additionally, users are fed up with the unbearable quantity of sponsored content. So, it was a completely unreasonable move that had no valid grounds from business or user experience point of view.