Last week Facebook surprised us with what seems to be a test feature in a select few countries, and we’ve now had a chance to see it in action. The name of this new feature is Explore Feed, and it appears to filter out all the good stuff for both users and publishers.
This new feature eliminates any post from pages you’ve liked on Facebook from your regular feed. To see those posts, you have to click on the Explore Feed tab. Facebook page owners, or publishers, have seen an 80% drop in organic reach (a measure of how many users can see a publisher’s post) during this test thanks to the Explore Feed. After testing the feature for a while, we’ve noticed that promoted (or paid) posts still show up in our regular feed, so this just might be a publisher’s worst nightmare.
It is no secret that content creators drive traffic to websites via their Facebook pages, and they have the right to do that, but it looks like Facebook now wants them to pay up if they want to reach their audience. Page owners who used Facebook for traffic boosting back in the day certainly remember easy it was to reach their Facebook fans with their posts. That was slashed by a staggering 80% when Facebook decided that they wanted publishers to start using their paid post-boosting option. A lot of them adapted, but a lot of them just gave up. Those who adapted are now facing the same scenario again.
Of course, Facebook has the right to change its policies and implement new features to earn money, but in addition to being bad for publishers, the Explore Feed isn’t very user-friendly. The icon is barely noticeable on the left-hand side of the screen. And if you are like me, and you’ve disabled automatic updates for your apps, you won’t be able to access the Explore Feed option at all. I didn’t even get a notification about this change on my phone, only on desktop, and the number of desktop users is rapidly plummeting. The general impression is that users aren’t well informed about the new feature, and those who are rarely use it.
If the Explore Feed rolls out as an official Facebook feature, content creators will be in big trouble. Some reports indicate that it will be an official feature, but there is no final confirmation yet. I personally hope that it doesn’t, because over the past ten days I haven’t clicked on it more than twice, and that was only for test purposes. As for page owners, it looks like you guys will either have to pay up or go home.