Facebook Reducing Promotional Posts in Newsfeeds

In an event that will likely shock no one, Facebook is making another big change to its system that will directly affect how a lot of advertisers on the site do their marketing. Starting in January (post Christmas shopping/marketing craziness), Facebook intends to heavily cut back on posts that are overly promotional in nature.

This reduction does not include ads, which makes sense, as ads are purely promotional– that’s the point of an ad, after all. The cut back is only going to be on content you post from your page, posts that reach those you are connected to organically.

To see our video overview, you can watch the video below, but make sure you read the rest of the post for more in-depth information.

Why Facebook is Reducing Promotional Posts in Newsfeeds

Facebook correctly states that one of the main reasons users log into Facebook daily is to see what’s happening in their Newsfeeds. They want updates on their friends, and they want to see content relevant to them. There’s so much competition on Facebook, so they want to make sure only the most relevant content makes it to each user.

In a constant effort to improve both the algorithm and user experience, Facebook has always made updates to provide that relevant content, such as the cut backs in click-baiting and banning like-gating.

Facebook reducing promotional posts in newsfeeds is only the most recent update, and not one I think we should be particularly surprised by. Facebook is a business, and they want to make their product the best that it can be, which means giving users the content they’re most likely to stick around to see.

This also increases the need for advertisers to continue to use (or increase use of) Facebook’s paid ad system. If we can’t promote outside of the ads system, you’ve automatically got an even bigger need to use it. This is more money in Facebook’s pocket while they simultaneously make changes that will hopefully make users happy and increase engagement. They win both ways.

How Facebook is Reducing Promotional Posts

Like with the bans on click-baiting and like-gating, Facebook is going to focus in on a few traits promotional posts often have in common and formulate the algorithm to detect and weed them out.

According to users that were surveyed by Facebook, there were a few consistent traits that often made organic posts have too strong of a promotional feel. These traits include:

  • Posts that seem to exist solely to push users towards buying products or installing apps
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that use the exact same content they use in their ads

The examples that Facebook provided of promotional posts include the following:

Facebook reducing promotional posts in newsfeed
An example of the type of content that will be penalized in the Newsfeed, provided by Facebook.com


Facebook reducing promotional posts in Newsfeeds
Another example of overtly promotional posts provided by Facebook.com

Some of our own examples include these posts:

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.32.41 PM

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Based on Facebook’s examples and explanation, it is my understanding that you can still share new products and news related to your business as long as you aren’t actively pushing for sales or sweepstakes “with no real context.”

Instead of the bath and body works post above, which would likely be seen as overtly promotional, you can switch it out with this one:

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.54.02 PM

They are sharing their products, but not in a way that pushes people to purchase. There is no link and mentions of check outs or discounts; only the product itself. Posts that exist only to blatantly sell a product or app (and thus, resembling or being identical to ad content) are the ones that will be flagged.

Facebook has mentioned that the majority of businesses and Pages won’t be affected. We’ll have to see what exactly they consider to be promotional once the changes start, as almost all Pages I’ve seen (including on our own Page) post blatantly promotional content outside the ad system.

I think the key to keeping your posts in the Newsfeed, regardless of whether or not you’re sharing your products, is going to stay the same as it is now, and that’s to focus on user engagement. Creating content that users want to see and engage with is the goal now, and that will likely stay the same. If you’ve got great content users are constantly interact with, you’ll likely be just fine in the long run. That’s the ideal, after all. For now, while adjusting to the changes, just stick to that.

What It Means For Us

With the new changes, what exactly will Facebook’s cut backs in promotional posts mean for us?

Facebook will not be increasing the number of ads that users see in their Newsfeeds, meaning that ads may become more expensive as the competition for ad space increases.

While you may not notice changes immediately, starting in January, if you continue to run highly promotional content in your posts outside of your ads, you should expect to see the organic distribution and reach of your ads to decrease, as Facebook says, significantly over time.

Though Facebook has been clear that they intend to reduce promotional posts in Newsfeeds, their current explanation can be seen as a bit murky and up for debate. We’ll probably come to understand the new changes once we actually see them in play come January.

Regardless, you can definitely expect to alter your content marketing if you use the Newsfeed as free advertising, and you can expect competition (and even prices) to increase on Facebook Ads because of it.

What do you think of the changes? Will you be ready come January? Leave us a comment and let us know!