UPDATED: Facebook is testing a major change to is basic algorithm - the one that decides what shows up in a followers news feed - that will completely change music marketing on the social platform; unless, of course, one is willing to pay to be seen.
Facebook is testing a change that would shift all non-promoted posts coming from pages out of its news feed. The shift would be catastrophic for artists, music marketers and all content creators who rely on the social network to build and engage an audience.
This new system is currently being tested in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka; and appears to move all non-promoted page posts into a secondary feed, leaving the traditional main feed filled only with original content from friends and advertisers.
This change has resulted in user engagement with Facebook pages dropping by as much as 60% to 80%, according to Alex Hem of The Guardian, who first reported the tests. If rolled out broadly, it would greatly diminish the value of free marketing on the social network dramatically.
According to Filip Struhárik, from Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, “Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. The reach of several Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.”
Between Wednesday and Thursday of last week, 60 of the most popular facebook pages in Slovakia saw two-thirds to three-quarters of their Facebook reach evaporate, according to stats from Facebook's own analytics platform.
Artists and music marketers have already felt the pain of much smaller shifts in Facebook's algorithm. But the changes being tested will feel more like the demise of MySpace, where in the just a few months, the web's most powerful music marketing tool at the time became almost irrelevant.
Some marketers have always focused on that the two points of contact that they can actually control - the artist's web site and their email list - as the hub of all online efforts. It appears that's about to be more true than ever.