More insight into Facebook’s newsfeed changes

Click to read 6 tips to keep your content top-of-stream

Meghan Keaney Anderson, a product marketing manager at HubSpot, recently wrote a guest post on Socialbrite, discussing how nonprofits can adapt to changes in Facebook’s newsfeed.  For many nonprofit professionals reading this post, you may not have been aware of recent changes.

This fall, Facebook once again changed the way that their content aggregator feeds posts to a user’s newsfeed.  Overnight, community managers noticed that user engagement and impressions nose-dived.  As a result, social media professionals have spent the last three months dissecting posts, community metrics, and testing to determine how to best react to the changes in how Facebook’s determines newsfeed placement.

An even greater concern is the reality that many smaller nonprofits, businesses, and small-audience page administrators are still not aware that changes in their engagement numbers are due to changes in Facebook itself…leading in many cases to page administrators taking actions that will do more harm than good.


Why & How Facebook Changed

For marketers, the changes in Facebook’s newsfeed delivery are not unexpected.  Over the past three years, Facebook has rolled out multiple changes in pages, groups, individual profiles and the newsfeed.  The general public’s favorite pastime is complaining about Facebook changes as they occur, but in most cases the changes are necessary to assure quality of content and the survival of network.

Although advertising revenue was a consideration in the latest changes to Facebook’s newsfeed; the greater issue was the spam-like cluttering of user’s newsfeeds.  In the past two years, Facebook has seen an explosion in the number of small & large businesses, interest pages and groups.  As organizations have increased their use of social media, newsfeeds have begun to look more like advertising billboards…leading to a large spike in spam reports, hidden posts, hidden pages and negative user feedback.

Facebook reacted to the increase in business usage and subsequent problems by giving a greater weight to both positive & key negative factors in determining when posts appear in a user’s newsfeed.  The “EdgeRank” algorithm prioritize posts that have the greatest number of interactions (cumulative number of clicks, likes, comments and shares a post receives); and penalizes posts based on negative feedback (number of actively hidden posts, hidden feeds, unsubscribes, unlikes, and spam reports).  As a result, if you have two or three posts with low engagement and negative feedback actions, you’re next “great, high engagement” posts is likely to be served to fewer people.


How Do We Adapt?

In Meghan’s article, How nonprofits can adapt to Facebook’s newsfeed changes, she offers 6 tips to keep your content top-of-stream.  I strongly encourage any community manager, to read her in-depth explanations of these 6 tips:

  • Audit your Content
  • Post at the Optimal Time to Drive Activity
  • Understand the Behavior that Leads to Hide, Hide-All, and Unlike
  • Post More Images and Video
  • Balance Your Content
  • Advise Super-Fans to Add Your Organization to an Interest List

Meghan’s insight into each of these tips will help you both understand Facebook’s changes and increase user engagement.  In addition to these tips, I want to add a few additional suggestions to adapt to these changes and additional changes that are likely to occur in the future.


1. Look for both the cause and solution

Social media marketers spend an enormous amount of time research, testing and measuring.   Our profession is driven through analytics which allow us build better content, adapt to change, and not overreact to short term challenges.   When a challenge arises, we seek first to find the cause, and then determine a solution.

When Facebook rolled out the EdgeRank algorithm, it coincided with an annual lull in highly-engaging stories within one of the organizations’ whose pages I manage.  During this short time period, we typically see engagement numbers fall; but, this year the changes in Facebook amplified this seasonal drop-off.  As a result, one morning I engaged in a lively discussion with a colleague who proposed that the solution was creating more content and posting more often.  The problem, however, was that this solution could only be achieved through manufacturing content.  I argued that creating artificial content, that was not naturally engaging, would do more harm than good.  We may be posting daily, but the subsequent hides, unsubscribes and unlikes would harm our long-term objectives.  I pointed out that we had successfully identified the types of content that users found engaging and we needed to maintain our focus.  It is true that we could manufacture an additional two or three posts or stories each week; but, if those artificial stories received few interactions, it would result in our highly-engaging content being served to fewer people.

For the time being, I’ve prevailed, our engagement numbers have rebounded, and we are refraining from posting content that could harm our long-term objectives with that page.  As a result, I cannot stress enough the value in Auditing Your Content.


2. Leave it to the Professionals

At the time of the conversation above, my professional dedication allowed me to better understand what was going on “behind the scenes”.   Marketing professionals do not rely upon top-level metrics in determining a course of action.  We use comprehensive data in conjunction with market research to build successful strategies.

If you have heard me present, worked with me, even had an informal discussion on social media, you would already be aware of my opposition to allowing interns to manage your organizations social media.  The same opposition could be extended to any other individual whose primary responsibility is not organizational marketing or who views social marketing as only another “jobs duty”.  Professional community share two traits: they have a passion for the mission of their organization, a commitment to cause marketing, and unwavering drive to improve community engagement.  An intern, or disinterested party, will never bring this passion, commitment and drive to your organization.

Social Media is an organizational marketing tool, and successful organizations understand that social media is best utilized as part of an integrated marketing strategy.


3. Accept change AND reality

Accepting the reality of our situation can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds.  Social Media marketing is no exception.  All of us have that one friend or relative who feels it is important to remind us on a daily basis of their political views and demand that we adopt their ranting as reality.   As a result, you’ve probably hidden their posts from your timeline, because as much as they think it is important to post their daily political rant…you personally find it obnoxious and at times sickening.

You could tell that person how obnoxious they are, how no one comments or likes their posts, how you’ve hidden there feed, or how they’ve turned themselves into a joke.  But at the end of the day, you don’t say a word… because you know that they will not change.  Don’t be that person whose own best friends would rather hide their feed than read another of the same, mindless daily posts.

As much as you may personally like posting the same type of content on a daily basis; if your engagement numbers are low, then posting MORE of the same content will not improve page interaction.


Facebook, Social Media will continue to change

Facebook, and social media in general, will continue to change over time, but one thing will not:  Regardless of how social media marketing changes, our success will still be driven through research, testing, analysis and refinement.

1 comment to More insight into Facebook’s newsfeed changes