Want to promote something on Facebook? Buy an ad.
That's the logical conclusion for businesses after the social network said it will reduce the number of "promotional" messages showing up in users' information streams, known as News Feeds. Companies that previously sent advertisements from their free Facebook Pages now face a harder time reaching fans.
"This change is about giving people the best Facebook experience possible," Facebook said in a statement Friday. "The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories -- including Page posts -- people see in their News Feeds."
The company said it revamped the News Feed after customers complained about the number of promotional posts. But that won't affect the number of ads people see on the site.
Of course, this is likely to further roil companies that have complained over the past several years that messages they post to their Facebook Pages don't reach their fans. Actor George Takei -- who's notched more than 8 million Likes on his Facebook page -- as well as food delivery startup Eat24 have publicly complained their posts don't reach all of their fans.
"I understand that FB has to make money, especially now that it is public, but in my view this development turns the notion of 'fans' on its head," Takei wrote in a complaint on his Facebook page. Neither he nor Eat24 responded immediately to requests for further comment.
Their posts may now reach even fewer fans if they're deemed too promotional by Facebook's algorithms. Posts most likely to be affected include ones that encourage people to buy a product, install an app, sign up for sweepstakes or reuse the content from an ad, Facebook said.
While Facebook is nudging page owners to place ads, it has also been teaching businesses how its advertising technology works. Larger ad buyers can use Atlas, a revamped service announced in September that can send more relevant ads to Facebook users even when they're on other apps and websites.