To further combat the threat posed by TikTok, Meta has huge plans in the works for the Facebook and Instagram algorithm.
In an internal memo leaked to Verge, a Meta executive said that Facebook’s feed will start recommending posts to users regardless of where they came from.
Furthermore, Messenger and Facebook will be reunited after a split some years ago.
Meta has made these moves to be more like TikTok and it will place increased importance on Reels, its TikTok clone.
So, in the future, we can expect Facebook’s Feed to be a mix of Stories and Reels, followed by posts with clearer ways for users to share.
A new ‘Discovery Engine’
Part of that change towards recommending content involves turning Meta’s feeds into ‘discovery engines’, rather than places you’d go to see what your friends and relatives are saying.
“Social media products – including our own – are delivering value by investing more in discovery engines that help people find and enjoy interesting content regardless of whether it was produced by someone you’re connected to or not. We see this both in research as well as in the growth of products like Reels, Watch, and In-Feed Recommendations.”
Alison continued to say that he wants the best content to be easily shared among friends, which should then spark discussions among users. By the best content, he means content that the algorithm will recommend to you.
It’s clear that this shift aligns with Meta’s number one priority right now: to make Reels successful. To do that, it needs to pump your Feed full of them to get you hooked.
Put it another way, Meta is trying to build…
“A world-class recommendations system that is responsive to your interests, can identify trending content and original creators, and makes responsible recommendations while evaluating billions of pieces of content produced across Meta.”
For brands, it means there’s a larger incentive placed on producing video content that instantly hooks users – and it could provide a bigger platform to partner with the best short-form video creators. It also means you’ll need to change your strategy because once likes and follows aren’t as important, you won’t need to chase them as hard.
For users, it means that you’ll see more stuff from people you don’t know. Whether you’ll want that from Facebook is yet to be seen.
Be more like TikTok
The change continues the theme of TikTok-ification of Facebook and Instagram as it tries to compete with the massive popularity of its rival. As an idea of the sheer scale of TikTok’s success, here are some recent numbers:
- TikTok’s downloads were 20% higher than Facebook’s and 21% than Instagram’s.
- iPhone users spend 78% more time on TikTok than on Facebook during 2022.
- Facebook lost users for the first time at the end of 2021.
TikTok surged ahead based on its addictive ‘For You’ page that guessed what users like based on their habits and served that to them non-stop. It also gave creators a way to go viral from a small starting point, which Facebook has never had.
A surge in Stories
For all the improvements to Feed, Stories is really where people went to share content with each other. People mainly stay in touch via Messaging, so the future of Facebook will probably contain a way that lets users watch a Reel, then effortlessly share it to a Story or send it to someone they are Friends with.
“A lot of where we’re going with Facebook is trying to bring you the best content that’s going to really cater to your interests, but then making it super easy to share that and discuss and connect with other people in your network over that.”
Groups are set to evolve
Groups are also set for a makeover. Facebook has put a huge amount of resources behind making them a success, and that isn’t set to change. However, they may get a little rebrand – The Verge said they’re being called ‘Communities’ inside Meta’s headquarters, and will be accessible from a button to the left of Feed.
Groups may also be displayed on Feed, although that’s a work in progress.
“Content surfaced in groups is an important feature of the Discovery Engine.
“Reels will be used in groups as a highly visual way to share and discuss interests, and our bets around Community Messaging and lightweight groups will give people more options to connect with smaller groups of people to discuss, discover, and share.”