We were asked recently what to make of Facebook’s new “See First” feature, slowly rolling out to audiences around the world. If you’re unfamiliar with it, “Who to See First” (hereafter WTSF) will allow a Facebook user to denote certain content to appear first in their News Feed. You could designate a friend as mandatory WTSF content so that you always saw what they had to say, even if they posted infrequently.
Marketers and communicators have made much of WTSF, believing it can help bring back Facebook Brand Pages’ organic, unpaid reach if consumers can be persuaded to designate their page as one they want to see first in the News Feed.
Our counsel is to not get your hopes up. The process for designating WTSF content on mobile is hidden behind a few controls. In order to designate a page or person as WTSF content, you have to tap the More button at the bottom of the Facebook Mobile app…
… choose News Feed Preferences…
… choose Prioritize who to see first…
and then scroll, scroll, scroll past ALL of a person’s friends until you get to the Brand Pages:
What’s the likelihood that the average consumer is going to do the above four steps and scroll past 338 friends (the average number of friends someone has on Facebook) to reach a brand’s Page in order to designate it as something they want to see first in their News Feed?
Fortunately, the process for designating a page as WTSF is a little easier on the desktop. Consumers need only go to the Facebook Brand Page, click the Liked button, and then specify see first in the dropdown menu:
Why make such a big deal out of the cumbersome mobile process if it’s that easy on the desktop? Because 86% of Facebook users use the service from a mobile device at least part of the time and 40% use only a mobile device to access the service:
WTSF should remind you of another process: whitelisting. For years in the email marketing profession, email marketers have urged consumers to add their newsletter and business communications email addresses to their ISP’s whitelists, by telling Google, AOL, Hotmail, etc. that the business was a trusted source of email and to never categorize its content as spam. Consumers, by and large, never did. Ask yourself this simple question: when was the last time you whitelisted a company in your own personal email?
If this process seems cumbersome, it’s intended to be. Facebook continues to make clear its priority to convert all free Brand Page users to Advertisers, as COO Sheryl Sandberg commented in their last earnings call.
WTSF is a false hope for most Brand Page managers, a way for Facebook to legitimately say, “We gave consumers a choice, a way to ensure they hear from you and no one chose to hear from you, so pay up”.
Should you ask your Facebook Page community to add you to their WTSF list? Yes, because it won’t cause harm to your brand or Page. However, set extremely low expectations for anyone to actually do so, and continue to budget ad dollars to your Facebook marketing efforts.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology