Is Facebook going to be replacing the ‘Share’ button with a ‘Message’ option?

Is Facebook going to be replacing the ‘Share’ button with a ‘Message’ option?

Facebook may be planning to replace the 'Share’ button on posts with a ‘Message’ button, after some users noticed that the platform is currently testing this in the News Feed. However, only certain users appear be seeing this new messaging feature at this point in time.

An example of how this looks can be seen below:

Facebook replacing Share button

*Image source: Social Media Today

Currently, Facebook allows its users to share others’ posts in their News Feed. However, as part of the current test, this functionality has been removed, and people will instead be given the option to send the post to friends through Messenger. It’s likely that you’ll also be able to share it to the groups you’re a member of on the platform.

This test is yet to be confirmed by Facebook itself, though it appears to be coming to posts in the News Feed that are published by both profiles and pages.

The TJM take: We can theorise a few reasons why Facebook might have chosen to test (and eventually implement) replacing the ‘Share’ button with a ‘Message’ option. Firstly, it will make News Feeds less cluttered, making it easier for people to find specific posts on the platform. This isn’t just beneficial to users in terms of user experience; it may make communications seem more personal as you’ll need to take the time to directly send a post to someone rather than share it with all your friends at once.

Secondly, it may reduce the spread of fake news. This makes sense with Facebook changing its privacy policy to reassure users after the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Thirdly, and evidenced by the recent removal of a load of targeting options, Facebook’s algorithms are now so advanced, it doesn’t need us to tell it what we like.  It has code everywhere, so knows if we are buying a car, what we are reading or if we are thinking of going on holiday.

Finally, it could be a way of getting more people to use the Messenger app. With ads now being shown in Messenger, it’s fast becoming a valuable revenue stream, which is the perfect justification for why they may want to direct more of its userbase there.

Carma Levene, a Social Media Consultant, says: "While this feature (if it ever rolls out to all users) might impede reach, brand are getting used to that. In my experience, content shared on pages (from other pages) gets little to no reach already. Add to this the fact that Instagram doesn't have a function to share publicly and it's doing just fine, and this means that sharing content is of less importance than it once was.

"The Social Media giant is now prioritising original content over sharing, Taken out of the public arena, brands will have the chance to actually help customers in an environment that's more privacy focused than the Social Media landscape of days gone by. This rise of customer-initiated Messenger conversation will also inevitably prompt an increase in the use of message bots and automation as brands try to streamline this process to serve their customers at scale."

Alistair Dodds, Marketing Director and Co Founder of Smoking Chili Media, adds: "The impact of switching off the share button will be a big one for any campaign that looks to go viral naturally. If, however, you are running Facebook ad campaigns targeting engaged custom audiences, it won't matter all that much. The reason being, if your initial audience targeting is accurate, then your interest is in warming your engaged audience from cold to warm, to a sale. So, as long as they engage by pushing a button of some sort, that's all I care about for such campaigns (which make up a big percentage of our engagement campaigns). It means I can continue to target them at ever lower CPEs and reduce my CPA in turn.

"For those advertisers that just like big numbers to show their boss/clients, I'm sure it will cause a great deal of upset. But if you focus on deliverable KPIs, then it really shouldn't affect you all that much."

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