Facebook isn’t evil for blocking promotional Page posts

Facebook’s latest algorithm tweak will hit businesses the hardest: Promotional, spammy Page posts will no longer surface on people’s newsfeeds. Other less ad-like posts from Pages will still show up.

Anything that could double as a promotion will be banished by the algorithmic gods of social war. As an example, Facebook included this image:

One example Facebook gave of a spammy Page post

One example Facebook gave of a spammy Page post

Although the algorithm change might benefit users, who will see less annoying ads, it’s a blow for some businesses. Brands have spent time, resources, and money building out their Facebook following. As a result, the algorithm changes have been described as “shady,” “ridiculous,” and “pay-to-play.”

There’s an argument to be made that Facebook bait-and-switched companies, convincing them to invest in their Facebook pages without warning them they could lose their promotional power down the line. It doesn’t help the fact that Facebook benefits by restricting Page reach in this way. If businesses can’t reach users by advertising through Page posts, they’re more likely to pay Facebook for the power to do so via promoted ads.

So yes, the whole thing smells a little fishy, particularly since Facebook dumped the update on a Friday afternoon — a notorious technique for burying bad news.

But the backlash to Facebook’s move is overblown. It’s not as though the social network has banned all Page posts from appearing in newsfeeds — only the spammy ones that it says users don’t like seeing.

Users — and perhaps the Pages themselves — will benefit when businesses are forced to get more clever with their content. Social media is about more authentic forms of brand building than the traditional ad campaign. Connection, creativity, and real-time conversation can succeed here when done right, and companies should be taking advantage of that.

In this case, limiting brands’ Page spam reach is a win-win for Facebook. It will make users feel less inundated by ads on their newsfeed, and it could generate even more money for Facebook by forcing brands to pay for ads.

It’s also a lesson for businesses: Never trust the tempestuous social media gods.