If you’ve not seen it yet, Facebook has announced changes to how Page content will appear in people’s newsfeeds. This is hardly unexpected, and there has been talk of changes for a while (like trials around moving Page content into an “Explore” tab).
What is new is that Facebook has confirmed what’s happening and what Pages can do to try and ensure that their content is still served up.
Before highlighting some of the main points and initial thoughts around what people can do to counter all this, it’s worth noting that while people complain about decreased reach and Facebook now being a “pay to play” platform, you still need a solid content strategy that maximises your organic content based on your audience’s interests, mixed with the types of content people engage with. Then with a paid strategy added into the mix, you can still win and ensure Facebook plays a key part in your digital strategy. Marie Curie, I think, is doing all this particularly well and is definitely one to watch.
Jon Ware has previously written about content strategy for this site, and his blog is well worth a read if you want to think about this more.
So what are the main points of Facebook’s new announcement? For me, they are these:
“As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.”
“Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.”
We all know that comments play a role in determining the algorithmic success of content, but now we need to consider how we can encourage people to converse with each other and their own friends within the comments section to ensure content is more successful.
The importance of community management
This for me brings into play a greater need for more “traditional” community management.
If your charity has a separate online community, you should absolutely be looking to see how you can learn from that to start driving more conversations on Facebook posts.
Sue Ryder has an excellently managed online community and I believe organisations who have mastered this type of online engagement and offer these services could be better placed than others to minimise any impact, if skills and tactics are shared.
A good online community is one that understands its users – knows what they’re interested in, instigates conversation, brings people together, harnesses peer support and is able to self-moderate (that is, having a dedicated audience who resolve issues between themselves without moderators needing to step in).
Sue Ryder does this well by spending the time to establish relationships with users. The team know who its active users are and know their stories, and can sensibly talk to them and empower them to encourage others to engage in conversation.
Having a very clear purpose for your community obviously helps. In Sue Ryder’s case it’s all about end of life and bereavement support, meaning people know what they’re there for. It’s worth considering the subject matter of content you share on Facebook now more than ever, and try to focus on themes rather than having a scattergun approach to content by talking about research in one post, then marathons the next, followed by a brand story/survey/parachute jump… Focus and provide purpose to your content.
Then it’s worth taking the time to consider: do you know who your most active Facebook users are? Who are the people who regularly comment or share your content – and what’s your relationship with them like? This is worth considering as it’s always helpful to have people in a community who can help out – and the same can absolutely be said for those who engage with your Facebook Page.
The trend of people just tagging their friends in posts will become more important. These do generate conversations – something we’ve seen a lot more of recently in fundraising acquisition ads Breast Cancer Now has been running on Facebook.
Encouraging this – without asking people to tag or share content, because that will demote content – will be important, as will sensibly joining those conversations to stimulate more discussion.
The other interesting thing of note is that in its blog, Facebook specifically makes mention of live video, talking about how it “drives 6x more interactions than regular video”.
If you’ve not yet played with Live Facebook video, now’s the time to dive in. It’s clear to me the fact it was singled out is obviously to encourage more of it, but also gives more of a sign of where Facebook is focusing its efforts in 2018, and therefore where you can have some huge success.
I got a new TV recently, and there’s a pre-installed Facebook Video app on it. This is probably where a lot of Facebook’s big plans are at the moment as smart TV adoption increases over coming months and years. Pages and video content can be part of that, and these changes will start to drive that change.
But back to Live video — my suggestion is that you start planning how you can do this now. What’s coming up this year that you can do live, and how can you feasibly add it into your content planning?
What about Groups?
The excellent Nathan Murray wrote a brilliant blog recently about how the RNIB uses Facebook Groups to enhance their digital engagement. There’s been no mention of how Groups might be impacted by the newsfeed changes, but given that Facebook has recently revamped them, they may well be worth focusing more time and effort on.
Having groups dedicated again to certain themes or subjects could well help you build up dedicated communities of people with specific interests or in specific locations to help drive change or better reach your objectives. Given the number of notifications I get from Groups I’ve joined recently, this could be a good shout – but as with any online presence, you need to think long and hard about resource dedicated to their management and the content therein.
Test and learn
Monitoring the impact these changes have on your Page will be really important over the coming months. Keeping an eye on everything from reach, engagement rates and traffic driving will be vital so you know how you need to adapt to any negative impact.
And as always, it’s worth testing a few things out to see what works for you, and learn from others doing great things on Facebook too.
Oh, and remember, if you’ve got a really sound content and social media strategy that focuses on sharing relevant, timely content with your audiences from a variety of sources, you are always going to be in the best position to ensure any changes will have as little impact as possible.
This article is adapted from Joe’s Medium post “Facebook Pages and newsfeeds” and was published with permission.
Image: Joe Freeman