A few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg famously announced several changes to Facebook's newsfeed algorithm and the content that will be consumed by well... consumers. Zuckerberg noted that Facebook users were now seeing less and less 'local content', this was an issue he wanted to fix.
What is local content?
By 'local content' Zuckerberg is essentially referring to content that serves the original purpose for which Facebook was created, that is, connecting with people you actually know. This content is the sort of stuff you would expect to see when you originally signed up for your Facebook account nearly 10 years ago. When you think about it, we used to see lots of content that told us what people were actually up to. We saw pictures, funny statuses and even videos. There has been a steady decline in this type of content actually being displayed in our newsfeeds as of late and Facebook has finally taken note of the apparently isolating and negative effects this lack of actual 'connection' with our peers through Facebook might be having on society. Facebook apparently aims to drive people closer together, by allowing users to connect with long lost friends, or just keep in touch with people they might not be able to physically see in person.
What are people currently seeing when they use Facebook, if they aren't seeing local content?
So if people are no longer actually seeing much local content, the question remains, what are they actually seeing? The answer is simple, it's memes. Lots and lots of meaningless memes (what a tongue twister I know). Don't get me wrong, I love a good meme as much as the next person, but upon reading Zuckerberg's comments, I reflected and realised that my Facebook feed had recently dissolved into an absolute load of dribble. Sure, it's good fun to tag all of your friends in a meme, we can have a laugh and it's great. But it seems up until this point, 'public content' has dominated everyone's newsfeeds. In a nutshell this means that Facebook's recent existence has only really catered to our bizarre and apparently primal urge to tag people we know in dank memes.
How will this affect advertisers?
So an even bigger question we all have; how does this actually affect businesses wanting to advertise on Facebook?
The level of sponsored content 'adverts' will basically remain the same, despite what Facebook might say about the matter. There exists the fact that Facebook generates a massively huge proportion of it's revenue from the adverts businesses pay to serve on it's platform. What these changes will affect, however, is the proportion of 'local content' versus the proportion of 'public content' that is shown. In short, people will be seeing more of what their friends are doing and less memes.
Will people spend more or less time on Facebook as a result of these significant changes?
So will people be spending any less time on Facebook because of these changes? Probably yes, people will spend less time stewing in the bottomless pit of increasingly meaningless and increasing dank memes that Facebook has recently dissolved into. People will spend less time on Facebook in general it's possible, but these changes might lead to a larger reach of Facebook in general AND a more engaged audience. By showing people real stuff and not just meaningless dribble, Facebook might actually become a place to keep in touch with people once again. This won't hurt advertisers, but it might lead to the overall demise of viral memes in time.