Facebook has been under intense pressure lately. On one hand, both public and private bodies scrutinize its every move, worried about privacy issues and undemocratic material posted online. On the other, shareholders are troubled by dwindling membership. So, Facebook has been quietly making a number of changes, placing a renewed emphasis on building relationships and interactions.
The company’s most immediate concern is losing members. In response, it wants people to stay longer on its pages by only showing them posts which are of genuine interest to them. It measures that by measuring how engaged you are to each type of post which shows up on your timeline.
What does all this mean for you? Ari Meghlen has some tips for you.
1. The changes
There are two main areas of change: changes regarding Groups and changes regarding Pages and your organic reach. Specifically:
The main changes concern changes in the way people are invited and accepted into your groups and in the way our posts are shared with our Friends. If you’re hosting a Facebook Group to contact your readers, you may have noticed the following changes:
Updated Group Invitation — Now, when people are invited to a group, they can accept or decline the invite. Before, people could be added to groups by friends who thought they might be interested in them, and they’d immediately become a member. Some people may have been added to your group, but have never visited it.
Invited Section — People who’ve been added to your group — but have never visited it — will appear in the Invited section of your Members list, which only admins and moderators can view. They won’t be considered a member until they accept their invite. This means they will no longer be included in your group’s total member count, so you may see a decrease in your group’s total member count.
Reminder Notification — Because you’re an admin, you’ll be able to send one notification to invited people to remind them to accept or decline the invite to your group.
In my mind, these changes are a good thing. They let you clean up your group and only keep those followers who are engaged. But it may be disconcerting to see your numbers drop!
Facebook has been limiting our Pages’ organic reach for ages (Profiles seem to be less affected for now). Things seem to be even worse now. So, your Pages’ Posts and Stories are likely to be seen by even fewer people, unless you pay. Not that payment’s high–a couple of dollars is enough to ensure that most of your followers will see a post. But it builds up and can eat away at your marketing budget.
Also, Facebook is prioritizing content based on what they think users actually want to see. The same thing happened a few years ago with Instagram when they stopped showing updates in chronological order.
Finally, Facebook is tightening up on content especially content that sends people offsite via external links, signaling a desire to create a walled garden platform.
2. What does all this mean?
It appears that Facebook really wants to beef up the meaningful interactions. Without interactions, shares, comments, reactions, etc between you and your followers, your reach will be reduced.
Engagement Trumps Likes
While it’s good when people click “like” on your post, reactions are seen as more valuable. That is clicking the heart, the laugh, wow, sad or even angry face. These will do better for your posts than just receiving likes.
Facebook wants you to make stronger content that drives your followers to choose a reaction rather than just click “Like.”
This goes for you, too. If you just click “like” on posts you see, you may see less from that Page.
Leave a Comment
Receiving comments is always good and does well to increase your organic reach. However, if you don’t reply to comments this may affect your reach. At the very least, Like a comment to show you’ve read it. Facebook is focusing a lot of attention on increased interactions, so that’s commenting, replying, messaging.
Avoid external links
This is a pain for many of us, as we use Facebook to drive people to our blog. However, Facebook doesn’t want to have people leaving the site to go elsewhere. While you are still able to do this, it’s a good idea to include more non-link content to balance things out.
Note that this also includes video. Sharing YouTube videos may reduce your organic reach. Facebook wants videos to be uploaded directly through them, not through a third party.
No More Calls to Action
Yes, everything marketing tells us we should be doing, Facebook is now making difficult. This includes Calls to action (CTA) posts. Posts which push people to “join my” giveaway, “click here” to get a discount, “buy my” book or “check out” my trailer or whatever, are going to reduce your reach.
Not Everyone Will See
It looks like Facebook will be sharing your content with just a few of your followers at first, like a test group. If they react and engage with your post, it is considered of value and it will be seen by more people.
The Real You
Because of the controversy surrounding fake news and the Russian interference in the US elections, Facebook has been looking at ways to verify accounts. So don’t be surprised if they ask you to confirm your identification. While this is not normally a problem, it might be an issue with Author Pages using a Pen Name.
As with every other medium, the best way to use Facebook is to follow my book marketing secret:
- Be real,
- be fun,
- be helpful.
If you’re a real person interacting with real people, these changes will hardly matter to you. Just continue cultivating those relationships and you’ll be fine. If, on the other hand, you see Facebook solely as a means to promote your books, keep in mind you may need to adapt your marketing budget and approach in order to reach your readers.