On April 21, 2015, the social network announced another update to their News Feed algorithm. For most businesses and page admins, this news was not welcome.
I'm not surprised by the news. I work for ShortStack.com, a social media marketing company that has been deeply enmeshed with Facebook for going on five years. The frequency with which Facebook changes its algorithm sometimes makes my head spin so I totally get why brands get fed up.
The bottom line: Change is tough. People are often resistant to it. So when Facebook changes something (again), eyerolls and deep huffy breaths from marketers ensue.
Again, is anyone surprised by this? Nope.
So what does this new algorithm change mean?
For users: Facebook will try their darndest to show you a good mix of relevant and trending content from your friends/family and the brand pages you follow. They'll show you more posts they assume you don’t want to miss and fewer updates about which stories your friends have liked and commented on.
(Facebook, here’s a big high-five for listening to your users!)
For brands and publishers: Because Facebook’s trying to make their news feed content more relevant to each user — this means everyone will see a different mix of content based on their liking habits and declared interests — the effects of this update will vary from page to page.
In their announcement, Facebook explains that the composition of a page’s audience and posting activity will help determine if and how much the page’s content gets shown in the news feed.
So if your page already has an active fanbase that loves liking and sharing your stuff, then presumably you won't notice any changes
But let’s say you don't have a super engaged fanbase you can fall back on. First, prepare yourself for a drop in reach.
Next, ask yourself, “Is my Facebook audience worth investing more than just time in?” If the answer is “Yes,” then also prepare yourself for the new commitments that running Facebook ads involves.
You're so over Facebook’s constant updates … should you quit the platform?
Before you take such a drastic step and bail on Facebook, let me share with you a few tips and insights into what I've noticed successful pages on Facebook are doing.
Then evaluate if you're willing to adapt your posting practices to suit Facebook’s constantly changing news feed algorithm, or if you simply want to bow out.
Sound good? Let’s go.
Tip #1: Post your videos natively
This is one practice I've been preaching like crazy lately. Facebook likes it (A LOT) when you post your videos natively.
How much do I mean by A LOT?
Natively uploaded videos get 52 times more(!) views than links to YouTube on Facebook, according to a blog post from GetResponse.
So if you normally get 2,000 views on your videos, make one small change and, boom, you could get 3,040 views. Not bad. Same video, just a different upload method.
For those who don't know what posting natively means: it’s when you upload your video’s raw file through a Facebook status update box to share.
What’s the exact opposite of this?
Copying and pasting a video link over from YouTube, Vimeo, or another video platform into your Facebook status update and sharing it that way.
You've seen these types of video posts before. They look actually look different than natively uploaded video posts.
Check it out:
They function differently, too.
Natively uploaded video posts have one huge advantage over copied-and-pasted videos: they autoplay in the news feed.
So picture it.
You're scrolling through the news feed and some movement starts to happen, and just like that, you're drawn into video content. Without having to do any reading or clicking, your attention has been captured.
This is why natively uploaded videos trump all other types of shared content on Facebook — for right now anyway.
Like most “hot tips” they lose their effectiveness as soon as they become common practice.
Basically, when everyone starts to do the same thing because they’re listening to all the social media gurus out there, Facebook will take notice, the algorithm will be adjusted and a new best practice will emerge.
So watch out.
Don't get too set in your ways.
Always, always, stay agile.
Tip #2: Check everything you want to share on mobile first
Want to share a link to your online sale?
Check the URL on your mobile device first.
Want to share a link to your new eBook’s landing page?
Check the URL on your mobile device first.
Want to share a link to a sweet new infographic your brand created?
You know what I’m going to say by now…. check the URL on your mobile device first.
(I had to say it, guys!)
Seems like a bit much to pre-check everything you post on Facebook on your mobile device first, right?
There are two MAJOR reasons you should do this.
Major reason #1: Mobile usage is high among Facebook users
Quarter after quarter, year after year, Facebook’s mobile usage continues to rise.
In fact, of Facebook’s 1.44 billion monthly active users, a whopping 40 % of them use the social network on mobile devices only.
I repeat — 2 out of 5 (!) users are mobile-only Facebook users.
Here are some other mobile statistics from Facebook’s 2015 Q1 report:
- Mobile DAUs were 798 million on average for March 2015, an increase of 31% year-over-year.
- Mobile MAUs were 1.25 billion as of March 31, 2015, an increase of 24% year-over-year
The point is (which I’ll go into further below): You’re missing a Jupiter-sized opportunity if you’re not thinking about your users’ mobile experiences when you share content on Facebook.
If potentially alienating 40 percent of your audience doesn’t scare or motivate you, then heck, I don’t know what will.
Major reason #2: Facebook’s news feed algorithm detects the quality of your links
Facebook’s news feed algorithm knows the quality of the links you share.
You might be thinking, “Quality?! All my links are high quality!”
While this may be true, it might not be the case on mobile. I'll get to this point in a minute.
Since August of last year — when Facebook made an announcement about cracking down on click-baiting — the platform’s news feed algorithm has been tracking “how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook.”
Let me explain.
If a person clicks on a link you shared and spends time consuming the content they've linked to, it suggests to Facebook that what you shared is valuable, aka “high quality.” If, however, they click your link and come right back to Facebook, Facebook notes that that person didn't find something they wanted or expected.
And because Facebook only wants to show the best stuff in the news feed, they're going to rank high-quality links above links that direct to high-bounce pages.
Now let’s consider mobile. We know now that Facebook mobile usage is through the roof.
Just consider the number people who take their mobile devices to bed. For many, Facebook is the last app they check at night and the first one they open in the morning.
If you want to be serious about making Facebook work for you, you need to think about these tech-addicted, screen-light-loving, notification-seeking, folks.
They matter because they're the ones ranking your content from their mobile devices every day.
And what happens on mobile, affects your content’s desktop rankings, too.
The point is: If you're not checking to see what the content you plan to share looks like on mobile first, you risk shooting yourself in the foot.
If the content you share looks bad, or just plain doesn’t function well, on mobile devices, users will bounce quickly after clicking and your content’s chances of making it to the news feed will drop.
Tip #3: Create content specifically for your Facebook audience
If you're anything like me — constantly lurking on brand pages to see what they're doing — you'll notice that the pages with posts that get great reach and engagement are the ones sharing content they specifically made for their Facebook audience.
This is smart.
I like to compare this practice to dressing for the right venue and occasion. I'm a gal who loves fashion so just stay with me for a second.
Choosing what type of content you should share on each social media platform is a lot like choosing what to wear. You decide by asking yourself, “Where am I going?” and “How will everyone else likely be dressing?”
(Context. Context. Context.)
If you were invited to the White House Correspondent’s dinner, you wouldn't wear the skinny jeans and leather jacket you wore to Sammy’s b-day celebration would you? Heck no. You'd obviously look out of place.
This is what happens when you post a cruddy image on Instagram (stellar photos are important there!) or try to post only salesy crap on Facebook when all your fans really want to do is comment on the latest trending story and snoop on their fourth-grade best friend’s wedding album.
One brand that gets this is the beauty and skincare company Clinique.
Not too long ago I listened to an episode of Jay Baer’s Social Pros podcast with special guest Shannon Otto, the North America social media community manager for Clinique. This girl runs a Facebook page with nearly 8 million fans so everything she posts has to be on point.
One thing she said was that Clinique tries really hard to craft content that looks organic to the channel they plan to share it on.
So instead of cross posting the same image they share on Facebook to all their other social networks, they make unique images to suit each platform.
Here’s an example of this practice. Below are two images Clinique created to promote the same message on two separate social channels: Facebook and Instagram.
As you can see, their Facebook image has some text overlay. This is the type of image Clinique would never share on Instagram.
Why? Because it would stand out — in a bad way.
You see, Clinique’s core audience logs into Facebook, Instagram, and every other social network they're on, for different reasons, seeking different things. They also have different audiences on each platform. (Can you relate?)
Their Facebook audience, which is primarily made up of savvy shoppers who might not necessarily be the most brand loyal, logs in to find deals and promotions. But on Instagram, those same users — along with the others who exclusively follow them on Instagram — log in to discover pretty and inspiring visual content.
Knowing this, Clinique adapts their content strategy to the mood and primary function of each social channel they're on.
Again, this is smart.
To sum this whole section up: Don't let your content look out of place on the social channels you share it on. If you do, your content won't get the kind of traction you want and you will end up looking like a total social media n00b.
Tip #4: Let your content live multiple lives
You know how cats are supposed to have nine lives? Think of each piece of content you share as a cute cuddly cat. It, too, deserves to have at least nine lives.
(Albeit, spaced out lives. But nine lives nonetheless.)
Far too often, brands will share a blog post, video or image once … and that’s it.
That content lived one life. And then it died.
What a shame.
Reposting your content on Facebook multiple times gives your content a longer, better life.
Don't you want that for all your content? Of course you do!
Some people might question this practice — or think that you can only pull off reposting the same content multiple times on Twitter.
Here’s why you shouldn't side with those people.
On Facebook, a very tiny percentage of your fans see the posts you share. This has a lot to do with time zones and, of course, the fact that the news feed is more competitive than it’s ever been.
For a long time, everyone quoted Facebook’s 16-percent stat.
“The average post from a brand page only reaches 16% of fans.”
That stat was originally released in 2012. So it’s old, and doesn't consider all the news feed algorithm changes that have happened in the last few years.
That said, we can assume the average post reach percentage is even lower now.
So to give your content a better chance of being seen by a larger percentage of your fans, post your content multiple times.
Many of the best publishers do this. Just take a look at the Facebook pages for Inc. Magazine, Business Insider and Refinery29 (a personal favorite). If you follow any of them as diligently as I do, you will notice they add old content to their sharing mix.
Most of the time, the old content these brands choose to repost is stuff that got great engagement in the past.
To find the best old stuff to post, dive into your page’s Insights. In there, you can see what posts have done well in the past — I'd focus on your posts shared 3+ months ago.
Here are two quick things to keep in mind when reposting your content:
- Make sure the content you're reposting is still relevant and all of its information is up to date.
- Update your post with some fresh caption copy.
Facebook will continue to make changes to their news feed algorithm. Yeah, it can suck — especially for marketers. But in the words of the Greek philosopher Epictetus …
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
Best of luck, everyone.
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