Oh, the Humanity of Facebook’s New Algorithm!

TL;DR

The new Facebook algorithm will focus on people-to-people, not business-to-people. Like, a LOT of focus.


Welcome back from the rock under whence you came! If you’ve checked your Facebook feed, or really any news related to business, economy, or marketing, there’s a massive buzz around the recent announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that the Facebook algorithm is changing. Nothing new, right?

Wrong. This change falls into the “once more with feeling” genre. Emphasis on the feeling.

What’s about to happen?

Things are about to get way more personal on Facebook. The new formula for your Facebook feed will put you in touch with posts from other personal profiles (your friends, friends of friends, people’s posts you tend to find interesting, etc.).

Additionally, it’s about (yeah, I’m going to use that word) engagement. But not just throwing out a quick reaction so your friend can see that you saw their post even though you made zero time to linger. Facebook wants conversations to happen. You see a post, it spawns a reaction out of you, and you actually type words in a comment on that post to share your more-than-a-GIF-or-emoji response.

Great! So all I need to do is use the word “comment” or “tag” in your post text, right?

Nope. Facebook announced at the end of 2017 that they will absolutely penalize engagement-bait text used to make people do things to your post. This whole “LIKE if you agree, LAUGH if you disagree” tactic is out the window, friends.

Oh, and your Facebook Page posts? As a result of this change, they’re going to get far less play in the timeline. (Page admins should be used to this by now.)

can we panic now?

Should I, in fact, panic?

Noooooo. But you should take this for what it is: a robust scoop of change resting in a bowl of solid intention and topped with a dollop of upheaval.

Here’s what you can do (and probably should have been doing already):

  • Craft YOU-centric posts. I cannot tell you how crushingly tired we all are of posts which lead off with “we” or “I,” especially when they occur on business or organization posts. WHY do you assume everyone else finds your stuff as interesting as you do? Instead, your post should take you out of your own brain and thrust you into the experience of your reader, because that’s what they are interested in the most. If you can grab them in a moment of how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking, your post can make them linger and engage.
  • No more assembly-line posts. You know what you want to share right down to the hyperlink and one or two key calls-to-action (CTAs). But no longer can you just queue those up in a scheduler; going forward you need to flex more empathy and writing muscles to make the link timely and fairly crucial to the reader.
  • Cultivate power users. If your Page or profile has at least a handful of fans who routinely do more than react to your posts, it’s high time you put a ring on it: build a group of advocates. Acknowledge their importance to your content by connecting with them, assembling them into a VIP gathering, and making this relationship meaningful… because these users will get you through this change.
  • Get trained or get a resource. If you don’t know how to do these things effectively, you should either make the time to learn how or take the money to invest in a professional. I’ve got a short-and-sweet list of pros I can refer you to for digital work.

Where did this come from?

Zuck had a rough year.

There was that time when Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, appeared before Congress for grueling testimony about how much responsibility they own for political sway by foreign entities over their users.

There was the ruling by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that political ads on Facebook must show who paid for them that came in the wake of reports that Russian-based advertisers wielded their wiles through the Facebook feed to impact U.S. politics.

Then there was the report that scrolling through their Facebook feed (and social media in general) makes people feel generally crappy afterwards.

All of the billions of dollars or other currency in the world apparently hasn’t been enough salve for these wounds, and Zuck’s response is a more major shift than we’ve seen in the every-other-day changes Facebook routinely rolls out.

Where will this take us?

This is my favorite part. One reason I love social media is its role in shaping humanity and how we communicate (good, bad, or ugly).

I also love watching how the unique platforms change and thereby alter humanity’s course by slow degrees. This latest from Facebook is interesting to me on a few fronts:  Zuck’s willingness to take a fairly massive gamble for this change; the political ramifications at a point in our history when a mistake could lead to nuclear war; watching how we humans (mis)handle the communication tools held in our hands throughout the day.

As far as this specific Facebook adjustment, look for more on how we as personal and professional communicators might shift our approaches on an app we use to the point of addiction.

What do you think will need to change as a result of Facebook’s new algorithm?

An Ounce of Automation is Worth a Pound of Engagement

There is a battle waging in social media against automation.

On one side, there’s the crowd I have dubbed “engagement purists” who believe every single social media interaction should be done in real time. No rules, no automatic messages, no bots. You either post as a real person in the now, or you don’t post at all.

On the other side, automation thrives with a vengeance by “automation addicts.” These folks use apps and programs for one-and-done social media posts, auto DMs, and an endless stream of sales pitches going out to any new followers.

Use an ounce of automation.

Of course, there is much space between the two polar opposites in this fray. In the space between purists and addicts, there live the “happy hybrids.”

We believe a little automation can go a long way. We know the ill effects of too much automation, yet we also realize our limitations as single, unique individuals who only have the standard 24-hour day (some of which must be used for catching some shut-eye).

When used effectively, an ounce of automation can lead to a pound of engagement.

 

Let me paint you a picture to describe what I mean…

Imagine your last (or next) networking event or party. When you encounter someone you don’t know, do you find yourself using the same introductory words and phrases?

Hi, I’m Rachel. How are you?

It’s great to meet you. How did you hear about this event?

Nice to meet a fellow business pro! What’s your specialty?

What’s wrong with this approach? Not one darn thing. We all have our go-to introductions when we first meet someone in real life. Why would it be different on social media? In these tools which are hailed as true engagement and relationship tools for marketing and communication, real world methods of communication can be implemented within each platform’s unique parameters. Think of it as the difference between a handshake (Facebook) and a business card (LinkedIn).

That said, there are ways to use and abuse automation in digital communication.

 

How to use automation effectively:

 

  • Follow up any automation with real engagement. A real person needs to be part of the process, preferably most of it. Even if an automated post or email gets the ball rolling, insert a live pulse into the conversation as soon as you can.
  • Respond to every inbound message. Every single one. You can’t automate custom follow-up with your audience, nor should you. Once a follower makes the choice to engage with you, reward that intent with respect by engaging in kind.
  • Customize any automated efforts to each platform, each audience. Show that you really do care by tracking your followers’ interests, likes, and dislikes on any platform you use to engage.

 

How to abuse automation detrimentally:

 

  •  Send the exact same message to every single person, every single time. Ignore the uniqueness of each follower through laziness and self-importance by delivering the same verbatim thought to each one.
  • Ignore messages and fail to respond to followers or friends. If you wish to alienate friends as well as followers, simply pretend incoming messages and questions are of no value.
  • Leave the automation on when the world goes off the rails. In times of crisis and tragedy, keep your automated posts of “buy this” or “click that” going while virtually everyone else is focused on helping their fellow humans.

 

What do you think? Are you an automation purist, believer, or a hybrid of the two?

Click the tweet above to vote, or share your opinions in a comment.

Social Media is a Courtship, Not a Quickie

Well, it’s not!

If you want to hear more about why I’m equating social media with romance (or variations of it), hop onto Blab on Thursday, February 18 at 10am MT! Share your thoughts, dissect my own, and let’s dig deep into candlelight courtship of social media marketing.

Watch live or replay below, or hop into Blab to participate!

Engage as the Page

Time and time again I encourage social brand managers to put down the megaphone and use their brand’s page to engage – that is, to create and promote dialogue between the brand and its fans.

Thus far, Facebook and Google+ have allowed this feature. Even Pinterest joined the fray with their Pinterest for Business profiles. And now, true to their ever-progressive form, LinkedIn allows brand managers to post and engage as the Company Page. (Cue the heavenly choir and soft ethereal light from above… even though this feature is slowly being rolled out.)

yell

Social media has gotten so much more brand-friendly over the past few years, and we digital marketers rejoice at each new embracing of the trend. In a realm where marketing job titles now sport terms like “community” and “relationship,” does it not make perfect sense to provide for companies to get as touchy-feely as any individual’s profile? Billboards are great for getting a message across, but they don’t do squat to generate a conversation.

If your brand hasn’t engaged as a page yet, there’s no time like the present to get started. Put down the megaphone, pick up some authentic tone and let the good times roll.
photo credit: mikeyp2000 via photopin cc