Dealing with change

Earlier this year Facebook announced sweeping changes to their News Feed algorithm to move it in favour of your friends, and away from brands clogging it up.

Following my talk about this for CharityComms I thought it’d be good to share my 10 tips on it for those who couldn’t make it.

1. Don’t panic

Yes, change is scary, but it’s generally never as bad as it sounds when you first see the headlines.

For-profit brands and their social media managers generally make a lot of noise because they know it’s going to affect them a lot. They don’t tell stories like we do, or have the same connection with their supporters/customers. They just see how this is going to affect their margins and they panic. This is where I find talking to others around the sector can really help. We’re all in the same boat so can rationally help each other through the uncertainty.

2. It’s not all about you

Post what your audience wants you to post, not what you’ve been asked or told to.

I’m afraid it is time to get more strict with requests on social. You need to be the gatekeepers, ensuring only the highest quality, thought through and useful content goes out on your channel. Build that relationship up through “meaningful engagement” and you’ll be fine. Waste it and squander that audience.

3. Quality, not quantity

Don’t just throw money at mediocre content and hope that it fixes your engagement, that’s part of the problem.

The focus needs to be on creating brilliant content, even if that means being able to make less of it. Don’t just resort to paying your way to the top, because it’ll all be built on sand and will come crashing down. John Haydon said something that really highlights this and how you should be approaching paid content: “Only promote awesome”.

4. Don’t be so needy

Look around you, where else can you drive traffic and engagement from?

Don’t base your entire digital strategy on the success of one platform as you’re then stuck whenever Facebook change their mind and introduce new changes. We’re seeing brilliant growth in areas such as Instagram Stories, where referral traffic now equals Twitter. That’s coming from a platform that until recently couldn’t share links through organically.

Don’t forget your emails too, they’re such a powerful tool but so often overlooked. Think about the benefits of each channel and make sure you’re tailoring your content as best you can to work for the different audiences and the different platforms they’ll be consuming through.

5. Get creative (on a budget)

Facebook wants us to upload more video, especially live, but video doesn’t need to be polished or expensive.

People often get the fear when they’re told they need to be creating video content. Video, whether live or prerecorded, can be as rough and ready as you like — it’s often the simplest production that gets the best results as it’s all down to the content. Phones are great at capturing video and you’ve nearly always got one on you. Still too scary? Use still images and make GIFs or slideshows

6. Be the chatterbox

Have conversations with your supporters. Ask them questions and reply in the comments.

I don’t mean constantly post to clog up people’s feeds, but ask questions and have conversations. Talk to people about their comments and responses to your content. Make them feel valued and part of something personal rater than just talking to a faceless page.

7. Teach a man to fish

…for clicks. Provide supporters with the tools they need to talk about you on their personal Facebook pages. Break through the algorithm barrier with meaningful advocacy.

Give your supporters graphics, videos, quotes, stories, whatever you think will help them tell your organisation’s story to their friends. Give them the freedom and trust to use it on their personal channels. Tool them up to talk passionately about your work in an engaging way without having to compete with the algorithm.

A good example of this is the work on personalised content that The BHF and Breast Cancer Now, to name but a few, have been doing recently.

8. Make cosy spaces

Small, highly engaged groups are much more useful than a large page that few people are listening to.

Ask dedicated supporters to get cosy and join smaller groups dedicated to specific areas, needs or campaigns to get the best out of them. Check out this blog from fellow speaker Nathan Murray on how RNIB have been using Facebook Groups for just that.

9. Try, try and try again

Get good at testing as it’s going to be much easier to do it now. Work out what works for your audience, on your channels. If you’ve not experimented with Facebook Ads and paid, now is the perfect time. Use them well and learn how to make a little budget go a long way.

Testing content will give you a much clearer idea of what works and what doesn’t when there’s even less margin for error. Experiment with different formats of content, different times of day, different days of the week. During work hours, out of work hours.

10. Reuse and recycle

Find something that works? See if there’s a way you can use it again. We often post the same content on our Facebook page twice in a week, just from a different angle or quote.

Tried it multiple times in a week? Why not wait a bit and then give it another go in a few weeks/month. Make your social content as evergreen as your website content.

Check out the slides from all the presentations at the event on the CharityComms website