In case you didn't have a hard enough time reaching your Facebook followers in their News Feeds already, Facebook is apparently actively encouraging users to unfollow Pages, or at least going out of their way to remind people that they can do so.
Is this a good or bad thing for brands? Let us know what you think in the comments.
According to a report from AllFacebook (which includes a screenshot), Facebook is testing a popup message on posts by pages reminding users that they can unfollow them as if they don't know that.
While it may be just a test, many brands will no doubt consider this yet another slap in the face from the social network giant, which has all but killed their organic reach.
— Oracle Social (@oraclesocial) July 2, 2014
Here's an interesting take on it:
Finally! Good for FB page administrators. Get rid of those inactive Fans >> Facebook To Users: You Can Unfollow Pages http://t.co/2VwfbUzZEh
— Gerrie Smits (@gerriesmits) July 2, 2014
Others see it as a positive move as well.
"Having people unfollow pages they don't like will actually increase organic reach," commented Jason Stein on the AllFacebook report.
"Lots of people like Pages to win something or for some reason other than to get their updates so if they unfollow those Pages it just makes more room for posts from the Pages they actually want to hear from," adds Hugh Briss.
I can't imagine why Facebook would be showing Page posts to inactive fans in the first place. That would go against their whole strategy of showing users content they're more likely to engage with.
Last week, for example, Facebook announced changes to how it shows users video in the News Feed. People who watch video less should see less videos in their feeds. People who tend to watch more video should see more videos.
Why would Facebook be showing posts to inactive fans if they've already dropped the organic reach of the posts in the first place. What little organic reach they do have should be going to the active fans, shouldn't it?
For that matter, Facebook not showing Posts to followers in the first place would play a pretty significant role in how active the fan is. If I like a brand on Facebook, I'm not likely to engage much with it if Facebook isn't showing me their posts to begin with, even if I may have engaged with the them otherwise.
So is Facebook encouraging active fans to unfollow pages in an effort to make it even harder for brands to reach them without paying?
Facebook's motive with this particular test is unclear right now, and it is, after all, just a test, but it's hard not to at least consider the possibility that the company has advertising dollars on its mind.
Facebook's Brian Boland wrote a lengthy blog post about the decline in organic reach last month. He said organic reach is not dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money. He then proceeded to talk about how you can get more out of the News Feed when you advertise. Kind of a mixed message. Boland, by the way, is Facebook's Vice President of Ads Product Marketing.
Facebook isn't exactly the most trusted company in the world these days as it is.
Another interesting thing about this pop-up message is the fact that Facebook feels the need to tell people that they're following a page whose post they see in the News Feed. That just highlights how much stuff Facebook has crammed into the News Feed from Pages you don't even follow. There was a time when the only things you did see were from pages you followed and your friends. It made a lot of sense.
It's entirely possible that this test will go away, and nothing more will come of it, but while there may be some out there who think encouraging fans to unfollow Pages is a good thing, my guess is that most brands won't be too happy about it if it becomes a regular feature - especially if their fan bases start dropping off.
Marketing blogger Jennifer Slegg writes, "This change, especially if the test becomes permanent, is going to see Pages lose even more visibility within news feeds. Now, page administrators are going to have to worry that a single post that doesn’t quite hit the mark, or a single post that doesn’t gain the interest of someone who sees it in their news feed, could result in users unfollowing or unliking their Page at any time."
Of course the real way to combat this is to provide good content so people won't want to unfollow you anyway, even if Facebook does suggest it.
Do you think Facebook should suggest users unfollow Pages? Is this a good or bad thing for brands? Share your thoughts in the comments.