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Facebook Makes It Harder (Again) for Brands to Advertise for Free

Facebook is changing the game for brand advertisers.

Reuters / Eric Thayer

Facebook has a message for brands on the social network: If you want to advertise on Facebook, you’ll need to pay for it.

The company announced today it will begin limiting the number of “promotional Page posts” in the News Feed starting in January. That means you’ll see fewer posts from brands asking you to buy products or “enter promotions and sweepstakes,” Facebook wrote in a blog post.

That also includes brand posts that “reuse the exact same content from ads.”

In other words, Facebook is cracking down on brands trying to share ad-style content with their followers, unless, of course, they pay for it.

Facebook says the move is intended to create a better News Feed experience for users who don’t want to see ad-like posts from brands on top of the ads Facebook already shows you. But it’s likely going to anger brands in the process, many of whom spent years building up a following for this very purpose. Why would Coca-Cola pay Facebook to promote one of its posts when it already has 90 million users following its updates?

A fictitious example of the kind of posts you’ll soon see less of
A fictitious example of the kind of posts you’ll soon see less of

Facebook is essentially changing the game for advertisers, who were originally encouraged to build up their “Like” totals on brand Pages so they could share content without needing to pay for reach. Many brands actually paid Facebook for “Page Like” ads over the years, which exist specifically to build up these very audiences.

Now, Facebook is saying that building up an audience — whether you paid for it or not — doesn’t mean you can share ad-style content for free.

Facebook came to this conclusion after surveying more than 500,000 users on what types of content they liked and disliked within News Feed. Users said the ad-like calls to action and product pushes were “too promotional” — even moreso than the ads themselves.

“All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time,” Facebook wrote.

The company added that the change will not impact the number of ads users see in their News Feed. So while you won’t see as much ad-like material from brands you follow, those posts won’t be replaced by sponsored content, either.

This is not the first time Facebook has cracked down on brands exploiting their follower base. The company tweaked the News Feed algorithm to show more of what it considers high quality content and less click-bait. Facebook has also said brands have seen a decline in how many people are seeing its messages because of the vast amount of content already on the social network, which makes it tough for individual posts to stand out.

Best way to get seen now, apparently, is to pay for it.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.