Facebook is taking businesses and publishers on a wild ride, but this latest update should give local news outlets like Starnes Publishing some hope.
In early January, Facebook announced a new update that will drastically change the way the social network has functioned for years (you can read about it on our blog). In an attempt to make each user’s experience and time spent on Facebook more meaningful, the social network is de-prioritizing posts by pages and dropping the total amount of news in the newsfeed.
In a strange turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, announced on January 19 that Facebook’s newsfeed would only include news from high-quality, trusted, and local sources that would be decided by Facebook users through surveys. On January 29, Zuckerberg had another revelation and took to Facebook again, informing the Facebook community of yet-another update to the newsfeed.
“People consistently tell us they want to see more local news on Facebook. Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives. Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference…Local news helps build community—both on and offline. It’s an important part of making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is valuable. I’m looking forward to sharing more updates soon.”
This is fantastic news for local news outlets. Our sister company, Starnes Publishing, publishes seven successful, hyperlocal newspapers for different communities in Birmingham. According to Zuckerberg, members of these communities will see more stories from our papers in their newsfeeds, meaning a higher reach for the papers’ posts.
Before this update was announced via Zuckerberg’s page, Facebook had been testing a new type of newsfeed in different parts of the country that features easily-recognized options for users to see what’s happening around them. People can see the local weather, updates from local organizations, local news stories, and local group suggestions. There is no word, though, when this newsfeed update will roll out for everyone.
What will Facebook do next to ensure its users have meaningful experiences on the Facebook network? Only time will tell—but you can be sure we’ll be on top of it.