Over the past 2 months, Facebook unrolled its brand new Explore Feed feature for its testing phase. Though Facebook has no plans to release this on a global scale just yet, this feature unveiled its presence in the Facebook profiles of those living in six specific countries; namely Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and right here in the Kingdom.
For those of you who still do not know where this function is located, it is marked by a signature white rocket icon over a red circle and can found on the left hand navigation side-bar of your Facebook interface, along with the regular news feed and other Facebook Widgets. It is also now available to access on both desktop and mobile devices for those in the 6 countries.
Zooming into the reasons behind this brand new feature introduction, it all boils down to Facebook’s goal of testing whether users want two separate spaces for their personal and other public content; so as to offer users a more cohesive and user friendly experience on the social networking and sharing platform.
This then means that the main news feed is going to be less cluttered and free from any kind of non-personal accounts, including those of news outlets, businesses and institutions – unless users actively decide to click on the discovery-based Explore Feed to access these pages.
Now, the main News Feed will only feature notifications from the user’s friends, groups they are engaged in; along with paid Facebook advertisements. The Explore feed will then showcase content that Facebook’s algorithms deem to be engaging to the user – for him or her to discover on their own from sources they do not necessarily follow.
Following its launch, the new feature has been reported to cause various unsavoury impacts to Facebook Pages alike just in its 2 months of testing. Especially to those who do not engage heavily in paid advertising on the platform, they have seen significant and sudden changes to their pages’ reach.
Delving deeper into this, such negative impacts include:
Decrease in Organic Reach
Since only paid ads appear in the main news feed now, this means that gaining organic reach is virtually impossible on the main feed. All over the world, organic engagement levels have been reported to fall to up to 80% since the launch of the Explore Feed. This has heavily impacted businesses and such.
Local Media and NGOs Suffer
Businesses are not the only ones affected by the sudden purge of non-personal pages on the regular news feed. According to the Phnom Penh Post, in Cambodia alone, news outlets and various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have seen a drastic drop in page views and have realised that it is getting increasingly difficult to reach people as they once did.
For news outlets, this has proved to be a detrimental effect because people end up missing news that is timely and essential to them. NGOs, on the other hand, have seen a drop of up to 60% in reach since the launch; affecting brand awareness overall.
Little Knowledge about the feed’s existence
Focusing on a more local context, it is said that out of the 15 million-strong population in the Kingdom, over 4.8 million Cambodians are active on the popular social platform; as said by The Washington Post. This makes Facebook a very viable platform to gain traction and awareness for one’s brand and such.
However, being a new feature, not many people are actually aware of this Explore feed; unless they are very observant or rather tech-savvy. Furthermore, some do not even see the reasons behind it, do not understand how to work the function or just do not bother venturing past their main news feeds. With the combination of little knowledge and awareness, together with the nature of how the feed works, it makes it pretty much impossible to even gain traction through the feed.
On the brighter side of things, despite the negative impacts, many people have come up with various simple solutions to try to work around the new Explore feature. If you are a Cambodian business interested in trying out some of these solutions, here are what some people have been doing to balance out the negative effects at hand and actually leverage on the new feed somehow:
Quality Over Quantity
Quality content creation becomes all the more important now. Hence, it is necessary for businesses to be selective in the content they put out and to make sure it is of quality overall. To gain views through this Explore feed, businesses do not have to release a landslide of posts to attract, but rather they should release the cream of the crop content to engage their audience most effectively.
Ultimately, this heightens a business’ chances of being featured on the Explore Page, since the discovery-based feed focuses on sharing extremely engaging content for the user.
Usage of personal profiles
Though you are not allowed to use your personal profile to represent a business according to Facebook’s guidelines, personal profiles may now be seen as an avenue for networking instead – similar to LinkedIn, the business and employment-focused social networking service.
This can be seen as a platform to network with other like-minded individuals, so as to build one-on-one lasting and valuable relations that you can use to impact your businesses in other ways. This can maybe even lead to possible partnerships, collaborations or joint events; where brands can alternatively gain the loss traction from.
For businesses with a current fan base, it is vital to combat the problem of users having the lack of knowledge of how to run the Explore Feed. Hence, it would be a helpful method to try to educate fans on the new feature so they can continue to see your page when they want to.
On top of that, you can also ask fans to turn on their notifications for the pages they have liked. So, although your posts do not appear on the main feed, they can always be notified whenever you release a new post. This ensures that you are still able to retain the reach from fans before.
Inevitably, this is one of the ways to get your brand message out in the open in the main News Feed, where every user has initial access to. If you have the necessary funds available, this may be a good supplementary solution to gaining more views for your page as it is a for-sure and effective method of gaining traction.
Furthermore, the advertisement spending costs on Facebook are generally flexible, based on your own business’ needs and capabilities, so you can adjust the advertising budget however.
Overall, there has been mixed reviews on whether this feature should stay permanently or whether it is more of a bane than a boon. Nevertheless, it is important for local businesses to learn how to adapt to this feature, rethink their brand advertising strategies and be ready; in the event it actually becomes permanent and released internationally!