Social media marketing took off in 2016, cluttering Twitter feeds and Instagram streams with advertisements often indistinguishable from bonafide posts.
Facebook users, in particular, have complained that public content—briefs from businesses, brands, media—is “crowding out” personal moments, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“The balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do—help us connect with each other,” he wrote in a recent announcement.
The young entrepreneur promised adjustments to the network, starting with the News Feed and a new section called “Today In.”
As reported by Recode, folks in the six pilot cities—New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y.—can access the category, featuring local news, events, and announcements.
Visit the hub via the bottom-right menu button (three horizontal lines) in the mobile app.
Using machine-learning software, Facebook surfaces content specific to certain areas, ensuring users see stories from regional publishers and emergency updates from neighborhood authorities.
“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” Zuckerberg said.
As the company rolls out these alterations, users should notice fewer commercial posts and more news from family and actual friends. And the public content you do see will “encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
“I want to be clear: By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuck admitted. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.
“And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term, too,” he added.
“At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections,” Zuckerberg wrote. “By focusing on bringing people closer together—whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world—we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.”
Facebook Messenger, meanwhile, is getting a makeover in 2018.
Head of Messenger David Marcus today offered a peek at what’s in store for the platform this year—including a “massively” simplified and streamlined version of the app.