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Facebook could be testing the removal of the “Share” button
For years, marketing experts and others have been predicting how each dip in the road might be the end of Facebook as we know it. While it is true that Facebook has been hit by a rash of poor planning, bad practices, and bad luck, the social behemoth has remained the world’s most popular social media option.
However, Facebook might actually be making some adjustments that content marketers and content creators will need to pay attention to over the coming months — as Facebook has started to feel a significant slipping away of users that it once tightly held.
So, how much of a slip has Facebook seen? How about four billion fewer page visits over the last two years? That’s right—billion with a b. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise to you because you have noticed a drop in your reach or engagement in recent months. Likewise, perhaps your Facebook pages have felt the repercussions of Facebook consistently toying with the news feed to try to encourage engagement.
A potential major shift
You should expect that this adjusting of newsfeed algorithms will likely continue to occur in upcoming months, and the biggest adjustment might still be on its way.
Social and digital media consultant Matt Navarra recently shared a tweet that included a Facebook screenshot that showed how the “Share” button under a Facebook post had been replaced by a “Message” button. That’s right: Facebook is running a test that could potentially make “sharing” posts on news feeds much less common in favor of sending private messages to individuals or groups.
Obviously, the repercussions of something like this would be huge. At this point, there is no indication that Facebook is planning to make a permanent change, but even the possibility of the “Share” button being removed is enough to send most increasingly Facebook-weary marketers into a panic.
Facebook’s backup plan
You expect that perhaps Facebook execs may have expected that the day might come when Facebook struggled to be as big and as popular as it once was. This is evidenced by some of the other social channels Facebook has developed and acquired over the years.
Because Facebook also owns Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, the company is still set up well for what may come in the future, even if Facebook continues to lose users and engagement. As of June 2018, Instagram boasted 1 billion monthly active users, while WhatsApp and Messenger reported 2.1 and 1.5 billion monthly active users earlier this year.
But for Facebook itself, many are unsure about what the immediate future holds. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, John Streur, president and CEO of Calvert Investments, had the following to say about Facebook’s near-term future.
“Facebook is very, very dependent on its ability to expose a large number of users to all sorts of inputs, conduct this really large-scale psychological experiment, and sell that information to advertisers. That’s what is really coming under pressure, and Facebook doesn’t have a lot of other options.”
If numbers continue to come out stating things like page engagement has dropped by 50 percent, we may soon see what Facebook — and brands — will do to adjust to the new reality that Facebook is no longer the giant it once was.
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