Facebook in the comms mix: how it’s changed over the years

Aug 7, 2023

Do you remember when Facebook was all pokes, likes and you could reach a gazillion people for free?

And can you believe it was once seen as THE place to reach everyone’s favourite ‘hard to reach’ audience- young people?!

If you managed a Facebook account for a brand or organisation somewhere around that 2008 to 2012 sweet spot, then you can be forgiven for harking back for the good old days – a
bit like you’re a member of one of those “Things were better when I grew up in the [insert decade here]’ groups which have seemingly taken over the platform recently.

From its humble beginnings as a college networking site to becoming a global phenomenon, Facebook has undergone significant transformations over time. As a social media manager
or comms person, it’s ok to feel a bit bewildered sometimes.

Here we take a closer look at the evolution of Facebook and its features, highlighting the opportunities and challenges it presents for comms professionals and social media managers.

Early days: collegiate connection

Facebook was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a platform exclusively for Harvard University students. Its initial focus was on fostering connections within college campuses, allowing students to create profiles, connect with classmates, and share updates. With its rapid expansion to other universities, it became clear that Facebook had tapped into the desire for online social networks.

Opening the floodgates: global expansion and user access

In 2006, Facebook expanded its membership beyond students, welcoming anyone with a valid email address to join the platform.

This opened up immense possibilities for comms pros, as the user base grew exponentially.

Some were wary, but brands and businesses quickly recognised the potential of reaching a broader audience and began establishing their presence on Facebook.

Rise of the News Feed: enhanced user experience and targeted advertising

In 2006, Facebook introduced the News Feed, a central hub where users could see updates from their friends, pages they followed, and relevant ads.

The Facebook algorithm was already making decisions about what content you’d see, in what order and who you’d most likely engage with.

The News Feed not only transformed the way users consumed content but also presented comms and marketing professionals with an opportunity to engage with their audience on a larger scale, including via targeted ads.

Birth of Business Pages: brand identity and community building

Recognising the need for businesses to have a distinct presence, Facebook introduced Business Pages in 2007.

This feature allowed brands to create profiles separate from personal accounts, enabling them to build a loyal community, share updates, and interact with followers.

Comms pros and social media managers began crafting strategies to cultivate brand identity, using engaging content, contests, and promotions to connect with their target audience.

Algorithmic changes: navigating the news feed’s evolution

Over the years, Facebook’s algorithm has undergone several changes, influencing the organic reach of business content.

In 2018, the platform announced a shift towards prioritising content from family, friends, and meaningful interactions over public posts.

It also heralded the rise of special interest groups and sub-communities.

This change challenged us s to adopt new strategies, focusing on high-quality content, genuine engagement, and leveraging features like Facebook Live and Stories to stay visible.

Integration of Messenger and chatbots: personalised customer communication

Facebook’s integration of Messenger into its ecosystem introduced new possibilities for customer communication.

Some organisations began using Messenger as a platform for customer support, lead generation, and personalised interactions.

Additionally, the rise of chatbots has offered social media managers the ability to automate responses, handle FAQs, and provide a seamless customer experience.

Video dominance: embracing visual content

Facebook’s emphasis on video content has grown significantly, with the introduction of features like Facebook Watch and the prioritization of video content in the News Feed.

As comms professionals, we adapted to this shift by creating engaging video content, live streams, and stories to capture audience attention.

Facebook in the comms mix: conclusion

It’s true that fresher platforms like TikTok are challenging Facebook’s dominance, but there’s no denying that Facebook remains an absolute beast in terms of audience share and reach online.

By staying on top of the ever-changing features and adapting our strategies accordingly, we can continue to unlock Facebook’s potential.

Our Advanced Facebook Strategy Masterclass covers all the latest strategy and tactics for comms professionals: from cracking the algorithm and optimising your page, to using stories
and managing thriving groups.

Sign-up for the next course here.

  • Fire up your Facebook PageHave your Facebook engagement and reach stats gone down the loo?
  • Do you need a refresh and inspiration to make your Facebook content more compelling?
  • Want some strategies, tips, tricks to increase the effectiveness of your brand’s Facebook channel?

Facebook has changed so much over the years, and that means we as communications professionals need to step back and rethink our approach.

Join social media expert, Hel Reynolds, for this two-hour masterclass that will keep you on top of your Facebook game.



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Zander Mills

Zander Mills

Author of this post

Zander is TikTok Strategist for Comms Creatives, as well as Corporate Communication Manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

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