Facebook changes more often than some people change their socks, and it can be dizzying to keep up. But the most recent round of changes significantly impact the area of Facebook with which we in Web Comm, as well as many other groups around the university, are most specifically concerned with: Facebook Pages.
Pages are our brand’s outpost on Facebook. We weathered the transition from fans to likes well enough, but the recent changes seem more significant and require us to be more thoughtful about how we use the channel to interact with (note I did not say “broadcast to”) our communities.
As blogger Colin Alsheimer explains, Facebook has changed their relevancy algorithm to affect what content shows up in users’ news feeds. And in the wake of that change, Page content has been devalued and is showing up less in news feeds. If you manage a Facebook page, look at the impressions stats for recent posts versus older posts — particularly posts made at similar days and times — and see if your impressions have dropped.
So, What Do We Do?
As Webster University’s Patrick Powers puts it, “It’s more important than ever to be awesome.” To be relevant and retain impressions, we need to create and share content that is useful and engaging to our users while tying back to our own goals for being on Facebook in the first place.
Alsheimer recommends a couple of things: 1) more rich media content (photos and videos) and 2) more open-ended, community-building queries. This type of content is more likely to garner likes, comments and shares, and those engagements will help your content stay in users’ news feeds. (Facebook is even creating a new metric to track what people are talking about.)
.eduGuru’s Karlyn Morissette also posits that adopting a niche approach, rather than a “one page to rule them all” approach, may be a wise move, given the new emphasis on relevance.
You may also want to be more topical in your posts — post what other people are posting about — since Facebook is clustering posts around similar topics. If your Page’s post rides that cluster’s coattails, you may hang on to your spot in the news feed.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Mashable predicts that if brands get access to the new Timeline layout, it could be a boon thanks to the emphasis on bold imagery. However, I strongly disagree with the article’s contention that a Facebook Page could replace a brand’s website.
Facebook is popular and practically ubiquitous, so there is a strong argument for us to be there, but we should never outsource the hub of our brand and information to a third-party. That should always live on our own channels, where we control what the information is, how it is organized and prioritized, what it represents and how it changes. We don’t want to be held captive to Facebook’s priorities; we need to set our own.
So sure, Facebook may change everything again tomorrow (in which case, I’ll rue writing this blog post!). That means all we can do is, as Alsheimer advises, not panic and take the time to figure out how to adapt our Facebook strategy. At the same time, we should understand that while Facebook is important, it is simply one tool of many at our disposal.
Facebook Pages, logically enough, have their own page where you can get information on updates to Pages and how to manage your page more effectively.
What are your thoughts on making our Facebook Pages more effective?