New Strategic Insight Indicates Major Changes Coming to Your Facebook Feed

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Change is once again coming to your Facebook feed, as the Meta-owned platform seeks to alter its approach in line with changing media consumption behaviors.

According to an internal insight from Facebook app chief Tom Alison, which was obtained by The Verge, Meta is looking to incorporate more AI-recommended content into Facebook feeds, based on engagement and popularity. global, not your personal relationships. Which is similar to how TikTok sources content from a wider pool than your immediate network, while Facebook is also working to streamline content sharing, bringing more messaging tools back into the game. main interface.

As Meta explains:

“The Home experience will balance both connected and unconnected content. We’re working to clean up the top of the feed and make it as easy to see friends’ stories as it is to discover new content in Reels. We’re exploring also a community panel to give direct access to the communities you are most interested in. Finally, we are testing a product to give you predictable access to your connected feed, with the ability to sort chronologically and filter by groups, pages and friends. Internally, we call it “Mr. T” and am excited about the progress the team has made.

Which sounds interesting – but as Mr. T himself once said, “I pity the fool” who pushes too hard on major product changes, which could jeopardize major elements of the experience base of the application.

The Verge provided its own insight into how the updated Facebook feed works:

JThe main tab will become a mix of stories and reels at the top, followed by posts recommended by its discovery engine on Facebook and Instagram. It will be a more visual and video experience with clearer prompts to message your friends. To make messaging even more important, Facebook is working to place a user’s Messenger inbox at the top right of the app, reversing the infamous decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.

The updated strategy shift is pretty much entirely influenced by TikTok, which continues to grow in popularity, at the expense of Meta’s own apps. These trends are now too big to ignore – and it’s not just the focus on short-form video itself, it’s the usual broader changes this is causing, in terms of reduced attention spans and new user habits, informed by TikTok’s irresistible “For You”. ‘ to feed.

If it wasn’t already clear that Meta is doing everything it can to follow TikTok, it’s about to become a lot more obvious, based on the proposed changes to your main feed.

In her overview of strategic priorities for the app, Alison outlines the proposed shift towards AI-powered content discovery, based on your interests, as opposed to what’s shared by your friends.

“Historically, Facebook has taken an entity-centric approach to discovery. We help you connect with the friends, groups, and pages that matter most to you, and then updates to those connections are categorized in Feed. Unconnected content in Feed has been highlighted through shares from friends, groups, and pages you follow, but unconnected recommendations have historically not been a core part of the Feed experience. invested heavily in unconnected content discovery on adjacent surfaces, i.e. via search queries or recommendation products like Watch, News and Marketplace.

The change, which Alison describes as a ‘discovery engine’ approach, will aim to highlight more interesting content in the app, ‘whether it was produced by someone you are connected with or not’ .

Meta has already made investments on this front, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting in his Q1 earnings call that:

“While we’re seeing an increase in short-form video, we’re also seeing a major shift in feeds, which is almost exclusively curated by your social graph or tracking graph to now have more of your AI-recommended feed, even though The content was not posted by a friend or someone you follow. Social content from friends, people, and businesses you follow will continue to be some of the most valuable, engaging content and differentiated for our services, but now also being able to accurately recommend content from across the universe that you don’t directly follow unlocks a wealth of interesting and useful videos and posts that you might otherwise have missed. .

This follows TikTok’s lead in showing more content, which is a better experience for creators (who get more views) and users (who get access to a wider range of content), but it’s a fundamental shift from Facebook’s long-standing key point. differentiation – that it has by far the largest user base of any platform, which is why it’s so valuable as a hookup tool.

TikTok has shaken that up, and while platforms like Reddit have long capitalized on crowd recommendations, TikTok’s algorithm has effectively systematized user interests, showing you more of what you love without you having to. to communicate it explicitly by following certain profiles and/or communities.

This essentially dilutes Facebook’s strength, and while the app remains a key login tool, it is now looking to evolve its systems to accommodate this new paradigm shift.

A key focus in this regard, of course, is Reels, which is Meta’s fastest growing content option.

Reels already account for more than 20% of the time people spend on Instagram, while video overall accounts for 50% of the time people spend on Facebook. And now, according to Alison’s plan, Facebook will be looking to lean into that even more.

“The current genre of public short video opens up new ways to create and discover content. While Facebook’s discovery engine is designed to support many different formats (text, photos, video, and possibly Metaverse experiences), our biggest shortcoming today is short video and that’s why we’re focusing on integrating Reels into Home, Watch, In-Stream and Groups recommendations. »

In other words, expect a lot more reels, in a lot more places, in Facebook’s apps.

If you don’t like short video, you are now in the minority, and again, the usual upheavals caused by the rise of shorter content are forcing all video platforms to conform to these new consumption behaviors, under penalty of losing public as a result.

This will require a significant shift in approach from Meta, which, again, has so far relied on providing content recommendations based on your explicit signals of interest, i.e. say the people, groups and companies you have chosen to connect to in its applications.

Switching to algorithmic recommendations is much more risky, as getting it wrong can lead to a rapid drop in engagement. But getting it right, as TikTok has shown, can have major benefits.

Another major risk for Facebook, however, will be the amplification of more controversial and sensational content, which might work well in the algorithms, but might not be the tastiest material to show its 2.9 billion users.

It’s also a problem on TikTok, with users regularly receiving, for example, highly sexualized videos from young creators, who are incentivized to post them for more likes and reach. In some ways, TikTok gets away with it, due to its focus on a younger audience, but you can bet Facebook won’t get the same leniency if it starts algorithmically amplifying dodgy clips.

Trusting algorithms more could end up being a major issue for Facebook in this regard, with the platform already seen as a key hive for conspiracy theories and misinformation, largely due to the engagement that content sensational sees in the app.

Right now, Facebook is able to say that these types of posts are largely limited by personal sharing, but a more holistic algorithm will change that dynamic and see Facebook deliver these posts to more users.

Is this a good approach for Facebook? Time will tell, but I’d bet other issues and concerns will arise as a result.

On another front, Alison also notes that helping people seize economic opportunities is another strategic focus, with commerce remaining a long-term key for Meta and Facebook.

“It’s also strategic for Meta as more onsite commerce experiences help us mitigate ad signal loss. [and] it is one of our main products which fits well in the market with YA. We will continue to invest in organic and business-focused commerce products, and there are growing opportunities to embed enjoyable commerce experiences into products like Groups, Live, and more as part of of our efforts to democratize economic opportunities on Facebook.

In summary, more reels, more product listings, and more content from people you’re not connected with in the app.

This makes sense, when considering broader web engagement trends, but there are big risks for Facebook in this context, which could backfire on the app.

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