Last year, I wrote an article on Facebook testing timelines, separating sponsored/paid posts from friend posts. It was assured that the testing was only happening in six countries with no plans to expand the changes worldwide.

In January 2018, Facebook confirmed they will start moving toward prioritizing posts made by friends, family and groups over unpaid (organic) content from business pages. To be fair, Facebook has at least reworded the new algorithm roll-out, saying they are doing Joe P. Facebook user a favor by having posts from his friends and family ranked higher than unpaid content from business pages.

In doing so, they are limiting the organic reach businesses have and pushing them to either pay to promote their messaging, or struggling to continuously post content that is deemed relevant and engages users.

By focusing on content posted by friends and family, Facebook anticipates the time spent on the site, and some other engagement metrics, will decrease. In turn, the user experience will be more rewarding. Businesses, on the other hand—if they already have an established social presence—may see themselves spending more money in order to keep that presence and get users to engage while on the site, in a shorter period of time.

Where this leaves small businesses has yetto be determined, but sponsored content will be the most reliable way to reach audiences. So, small businesses need to be bucking up bucks for their posts to be seen—at least short term.

Here are a few more articles on the topic:

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2018/01/11/facebook-focuses-news-feed-on-friends-and-family-curbing-the-reach-of-brands-and-media/#2d1763575b69

https://digiday.com/media/losing-hope-facebook-tells-publishers-big-change-coming-news-feed/

http://fortune.com/2018/01/12/facebook-news-feed-change/