Facebook has (once again) adjusted the algorithm formerly known as EdgeRank, according to an update posted to Facebook’s Newsroom two days ago (January 21st 2014). The latest amendment will give a positive bias to text only updates from friends, and a negative bias to text only updates from brand pages. In short – you’ll see more chit chat from your friends, and less from brands, in your newsfeed.
So, what does this mean for Community Managers:
Tailor your text: If you must post text only updates, you should work even harder to tailor text to ensure that the message is sharable, as Facebook sharing is one way to circumvent the new algorithm bias. Consider:
1. Less is more. Shorter text updates are on the whole more likely to be shared by fans, and friends of fans, than updates of Hubbardian proportions. Keep it punchy and concise
2. Be entertaining. An oldie, but a goodie – pretty obvious really; amusing or otherwise entertaining content will travel
3. Ask divisive questions. One of our clients in the gaming industry recently asked simply ‘Inverted controls, yes or no?’ in a text update. It seems trivial but to a vocal, passionate gaming community this is as divisive as football, party politics and foreign policy. The result: thousands of comments and shares, meaning a significantly increased reach
4. Go easy on the hashtags. Keep it legible. Regardless of the new algorithm update, it’s important not to overdo the hashtags, lest we fall into the same trap that so many have succumbed to on Twitter. Hashtags can be a great way of amplifying your message and reaching new audiences, but equally misuse can result in convoluted and incomprehensible, and therefore un-sharable, content
Integrate more rich media into your content calendar. This can be difficult for industries that aren’t inherently visual, for example many B2B industries. If you do suffer from a lack of content, get creative – snap some ‘day in the life’ style short videos or ‘meet the team’ pictures featuring prominent staff members, interview your CEO about a new product launch, create video case studies of customers or clients enjoying your product or service. The result – optimized reach – will be worth the small investment in time and effort.
Use link-shares, as opposed to embedding into text updates. Facebook says that this is the most effective way to share links. The new algorithm will weight link-shares more favorably than text updates with links embedded. To be honest, you should already be using link-shares as they’re a more visual and compelling way to tell a story and generate clicks.
Many community managers use text updates to push important messaging such as lengthy updates to services and products. Anecdotally, this can be a particularly useful tool for small companies who don’t have the benefit of a PR agency and the interest of the mainstream media. From now on, if you feel compelled to write a long text update, consider whether the information within could be better disseminated via a video or infographic.
For now these are just some of the ways you as a community manager might ensure that your posts’ reach doesn’t decline with the new algorithm update, but stay tuned; another update is always just around the corner. :)
[Image courtesy of zowchow.com]