It may soon be harder for retailers to capture consumers’ attention on Facebook.
The social network is running tests in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia in which it separates posts from pages, such as those run by a retailer or brand, into another feed on Facebook.
“The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content,” writes Adam Mosseri, head of news feed, in a blog post. “We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in news feed or Explore.” Explore is a complementary feed of popular articles, videos and photos that’s tailored to users based on the information Facebook knows about them.
The test appears aimed at relieving consumers’ frustrations with the streaming nature of posts, says Rebecca Lieb, analyst and founding partner at consultancy and research firm Kaleido Insights. “Even if you’ve adjusted settings to see posts by close friends or family, it’s easy for them to slip downstream without notice, particularly if they’re not ‘voted up’ by the algorithm,” she says. The algorithm favors posts from accounts a user has previously engaged with.
The test results will be “interesting,” she adds. “I’m sure Facebook doesn’t want users to ignore page posts from brands or other pages users follow,” Lieb says. The social network could also require retailers to pay for ads to appear the friends and family feed, she says.
Facebook’s test is distinct from Explore feed, which has been rolled out to most global users in bookmarks, the area on the social network where users can select the type of content they want to view, such as jobs, buy and sell groups or groups. While the Explore Feed includes content from relevant pages that a consumer may not have actively liked, Facebook users who are not participating in the separate feed test will continue to see posts from pages that they do like in their news feeds.