TikTok’s engagement forces META to compete and change their algorithm: what’s the impact on feed and ads?

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Messi is unconcerned about algorithm changes or who is leading the Meta vs. TikTok fight. Celebrities, influencers, and content creators with a large number of followers are oblivious to these issues. But for the more than 6 million companies that invest on advertising through any of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta sites, the news cannot go unnoticed.

Meta Ads campaigns are based on creativity and investment, and they usually produce positive results, but in the Chinese app TikTok, organic content -or what appears to be so- rules.  If the goal is to have a product seen as many times as possible for free, TikTok is making that possible through millions of impressions. Its algorithm is designed to entertain, discover, engage, and inspire. It is a "joyful" entertainment network, according to its users, so it is natural that they feel more at ease and confident using it. Despite the fact that Meta still has significantly more users than TikTok, Captain Zuckerberg sees a storm coming and has decided to change course.

What's changed in Meta

Facebook is introducing changes to its algorithm to more closely resemble Tiktok.  The new changes are intended to affect what content reaches us. One of the most significant changes is the new 'feed' that will function as a "discovery engine," prioritizing recommended posts over the content of the accounts that users follow. 

What does this mean?  It means that these posts will be on your feed regardless of who created them or whether they're in your contacts or not. Regardless of where it comes from, anything that is eye-catching, relevant, and gets strong engagement will be rewarded.   Content is still king and its unwavering mandate is the goal of all social platforms: to keep users as long as possible, inside the app.

Zuckerberg had already hinted at change

In a meeting with investors at the end of last year, Mark Zuckerberg let it slip that Meta’s audience spent half of their time watching videos, which is why platforms like Tik Tok were growing so quickly. 

Last February, Meta took note after the negative results showed a drop of 100 million users and revealed the platform’s difficulty in attracting and retaining young people between 15 and 25 years old.

In contrast, a 2022 report from We Are Social agency said that TikTok added 650 thousand new users per day in the final quarter of 2021,which translates to eight new users each and every second. Its number of active users has increased by 45%. 

This data is the driving force behind one of the most important changes that the social network will make to compete with Tiktok: focusing on its Reels format and making it stand out even more.   Now, when you enter, you'll see Stories and Reels from your Facebook and Instagram contacts at the top.

Metaleaks

In April The Verge obtained a copy of an internal memo from Tom Alison, the Meta executive in charge of Facebook which revealed plans to transform Facebook’s feed to become more TikTok-like.

The letter outlines the company's goals to "make Reels successful," "create world-class recommendation technology," and "share open messages."  It also reveals Facebook’s intention to reintegrate Messenger into the main Facebook platform following its 2014 separation into two separate services essentially mimicking TikTok's messaging functionality.

Facebook's upcoming changes, which will focus on redesigning Reels, explain Meta's response to TikTok's recent dramatic rise, reaching 1.2 billion users as of December 2021.  With a dedicated Reels tab, Instagram had already shifted its focus to mimic TikTok's video-sharing design, and the firm hopes these revisions will force Meta's app expansion in an analogous fashion.

From the blog