Facebook has been in the news for some problematic issues. Recent scandals around “fake news” and the misuse of data have many wondering about the platform’s credibility and asking what impact this has on, well, everyone. Despite this, Facebook remains one of the biggest players in the social media game with nearly 2 billion usersand over 65 million business pages worldwide. While frustration and uncertainty may be growing, organizations cannot ignore the fact that Facebook still provides access to important audiences and can bring about a large ROI.
Rather than focusing on the negatives and abandoning Facebook completely, here’s what you need to know and how you can still serve as a trustworthy source of information, see results, and create a positive online community on the network.
Facebook Algorithm Change
In January, Facebook implemented a change that shows more content from friends, family and groups in an individual’s news feed in response to feedback that irrelevant content on News Feeds takes away from personal moments. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, announced this change which also prioritizes posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” Notably, content from business pages are held to the same standard: public content should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
How do these changes happen? The sophisticated algorithm arranges posts according to how likely the user would be to interact with the content. There are four componentsthat are considered when calculating the likelihood of the user interacting with the content. They include:
- Inventory: content available
- Signals: considerations about content using factors such as average time spent on page, story type, overall engagement, multiple replies to comments on a post, shares and reactions
- Predictions: considerations about person
- Overall Score
With the algorithm change, Facebook uses signals that heavily favor “active” interaction signals such as comments and shares, rather than passive interaction signals, like clicking, watching and viewing.
So, what does this mean for business pages? Over the past couple of months, individuals saw less public content, including posts from businesses (including nonprofits and government entities), brands and media–though only slightly as, the visibility of news in the News Feed has only dropped from 5 percent to 4 percent. The posts that have continued to perform well are human interest stories or hard news that has a very human element. Additionally, the amount of comments increased from 11% in January 2018 compared to 7% in January 2017.
Facebook Data Use by Cambridge Analytica
In March 2018, media outlets reported that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked closely with the Donald J. Trump campaign and Brexit supporters, obtained personally identifiable information of up to 87 million Facebook users from outside research. These firms are accused of using the data to create digital campaigns that influenced voter opinion on behalf of the politicians who hired them.
These revelations have led to congressional hearings with Facebook leadership and changes to the platform. With this, Facebook has responded to the breach and implemented some changes including:
- A redesigned settings page to easily find the information collected by Facebook.
- Updates to the terms of service and data policies that detail how Facebook operates.
- The launch of a feature that gives users background information on publishers and their articles.
How Facebook is Combating “Fake News”
Given the mistrust of particular news sources on Facebook, the network recently rolled out a new feature that provides readers with more information about publishers. Facebook users can now access additional information through an “About This Article” button. Users can see links to the publisher’s Wikipedia pages, related articles about the same topic, how many times users shared a given article, where an article was shared and an option for following the publisher. Facebook will also start showing whether friends have shared the article and a snapshot of the publisher’s other recent articles. This new feature, along with future updates, will provide more context for users.
Strategies for Facebook Business Pages
We don’t know the full impact of the algorithm changes and the data concerns are still being studied, however, it will affect Business Pages. What we do know: how to leverage your business page, audience and content to continue seeing strong engagement and be a credible source on Facebook. Below are a few recommendations:
- Focus on what makes content personal and conversation-worthy. Posts should focus on active engagement (i.e., spark commenting, sharing, reacting) rather than passive engagement (i.e., clicking, watching, viewing/hovering). This translates into content that evokes emotion and action.
- Create content for your followers, not just for your brand. Examine your audience and think about the unique information you can share to inspire those people to comment or share.
- Avoid posts that are “engagement bait” that goal people into commenting or sharing.
- Take advantage of paid social. Boosting well-performing organic content is an easy way to reach new audiences and get additional engagement. Creating ads on Facebook is an easy and efficient way of reaching new and specific audiences.
- With the new “About the Article” button, your company page information will be trafficked more often. Reevaluate your company page information to ensure that it is complete and up-to-date.
- Review your company’s Wikipedia page since Facebook will be using this source as a third-party credibility source.
- Promote the use of Facebook’s see first feature. The “see first” feature allows users to prioritize a person or Page’s content at the top of their News Feed.
As the landscape evolves, CHIEF will continue to monitor the impact of Facebook algorithm changes so we can better serve our clients and strategically optimize our own Facebook presence. In the meantime: how do you see these Facebook changes affecting your business practices? Tell us about it on, well, Facebook.