What Facebook’s trial to split News Feed really means for users and businesses

Mark Zuckerberg-led social network Facebook Inc has been experimenting with its News Feed feature that might change the way you see your timeline.

However, if you are not someone who relies on Facebook for news or other promoted stuff, then you should have no reason to worry. But if you are indeed one such subscriber, then it is essentially a notice that you may soon have two News Feeds—social and promoted.

Confused? What Facebook has been trying to do is tap into its 2 billion users to ring in some revenues from publishers and, at the same time, make it easy for users who only browse the platform to see posts from friends.

“We always listen to our community about ways we might improve News Feed,” Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. “People tell us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family. We are testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explore, with posts from pages.”

This means that if the experiments produce satisfactory results, then you will be greeted with a new option called ‘Explore’ on your profile page that will take you to a different News Feed where you can see promoted content that may include news, videos and branded content.

“Explore is a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them. We’ve heard from people that they want an easy way to discover relevant content from pages they haven’t connected with yet,” Mosseri explained in his blog.

However, this means that smaller publishers who don’t have a large number of followers will now have to start paying Facebook to ensure their content reaches target users. Facebook currently doesn’t charge any user for content promotion and the facility is optional.

The company has said that it will retain this policy in the future, but with a separate News Feed it might become a necessity for accounts looking to grow their influence on the platform.

However, users don’t need to get rattled. Mosseri said that “...While Explore includes content from relevant pages, posts from pages that people like or follow will continue to appear in News Feed.”

Simply put, if you are interested in exploring more content on Facebook, then Explore (if and when it is released) could be a good option. However, if you are not looking for more content, you will hardly notice any change on your page except for a new ‘Explore’ tab or button.

Facebook conducted the experiments in six countries—Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia. The company said it has stopped the tests and had no plans to roll this test out further.

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