You don’t own your Facebook page. Yes, the page that you invested hundreds of hours to build, nourish and cultivate is not yours. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s. The new Facebook’s Explore Feed feature works differently in Serbia and a few other countries than in the rest of the world. This shows that, by building a photography page, you’re actually working for Mark. You have to either pay, or forget about Facebook for business promotion and growing your audience.
According to Tech Crunch, the Explore Feed feature is now officially rolled out globally, both on mobile and desktop. It’s aimed to help you discover new content, related to the posts from friends and Pages you already follow, and which show up on your regular News Feed. You may wonder why I consulted another source to learn how it works – well, it’s because it works differently here where I live. As Filip Struhárik writes, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia have a different Explore Feed section than the rest of the world. In these countries, the friends’ posts are in the main News Feed, and all the posts from Pages are moved to the Explore Feed. If you manage a page and want your posts to appear in the main News Feed – you need to pay. So, Facebook is basically forcing you to sponsor your posts. This reduces the organic reach, and of course, takes more money out of your pocket.
According to Struhárik’s article on Medium, this change has caused a dramatic drop in organic reach for Facebook pages: “Reach of several asked Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.” The interaction on the sixty largest Slovak media pages was 4 times lower. Judging from the tests, it was the same for Guatemala and Cambodia.
However, it seems this feature isn’t planned to go global. It’s just a regional experiment “that may take several months.” Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, writes that this is a test for improving the News feed and making it easier to see the posts from friends and family:
“The goal of this test is to understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content. 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. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention.”
Of course, it’s not clear how long this test will last. And although there is “no current plan” to develop this any further, I hope it won’t become the plan in the future to develop it after all.
As a page owner, a feature like this means your audience won’t reach your posts organically unless they scroll through the “Explore Feed.” If you want the people to reach your page, you’ll have to promote your content so it appears in the regular News Feed.
As a Facebook user from Serbia, I now see posts from my friends and a bunch of sponsored content from huge companies as I scroll down the News Feed. And the sponsored posts are in most cases not even relevant to me. I don’t see the post from the pages I’ve collected for years – new projects from photographers and other creatives, all kinds of useful or fun information, news, and so on. All of you photographers I’ve featured and whose pages I’ve “liked” on Facebook – I can’t see what you’re publishing unless I go to the Explore Feed. It may be a minor annoyance, but it’s still an annoyance for me as a user. And it’s harming all the page owners whose majority of the audience is situated in these countries.
As I mentioned, I do hope Facebook will bring everything back to normal. I hope this really is just a test that will finish soon, because it doesn’t work, and I’m not the only one complaining. And I definitely hope this won’t go global. Because if it does, it will make you pay more than you want (or can) to reach your audience.