Facebook latest newsfeed changes: What does it mean for charities and what can you do about?
You may or may not have heard Facebook’s latest announcement about the latest changes to the Facebook Newsfeed last week.
I’ve had a few questions from people in the non–profit space about these changes, and I can probably summarise them in two thoughts; ‘Should we be freaking out?’ and ‘is our Facebook Page dead and over?’
By answer to both questions is NO and DON’T PANIC. So what does it mean for non-profits and small business?
Really, no one has the answers to that yet, unless you’ve got a crystal ball handy.
I will say that we don’t know exactly how this will roll out. As usual, Facebook has announced the changes with a lot of PR speak but not a lot of hard facts or details.
What we do know is that the changes will most likely affect news organisations the most, but brand pages are on the hit list too.
So it’s reality check time. Until the changes roll out, we won’t know the exact impact these changes will have, but let’s look at what’s likely to happen based on what Facebook has told us via Mark Zuckerberg.
But this is the bit that really has people who publish a Facebook Page panicking:
You can read Mark’s full post here or the full Facebook announcement here.
Truth time guys. I will admit to lying awake that night wondering if my business was about to go down to toilet. But then I woke up the next morning, the sun still rose and I realised with a few tweaks and the same strategic approach I always recommend to you all, Facebook will still be a vital tool in your marketing cache.
Facebook has made big changes before.
In 2014 they demoted text only updates from business pages, and in 2016 they again made an announcement a little similar to this one about, promising to show us more from our friends. And in both cases the world did not end, and engagement didn’t disappear. Perhaps your reach dropped a little but I know from experience that many brands and organisations, even tiny ones, were able to adapt.
This is my big reality check. I had been saying this in webinars and training before this announcement, and it’s still just as relevant now. Facebook is an advertising platform. We may not like it, we may want to just kick ass with unpaid content only, but it’s not a realistic approach. Very few pages can grow and be successful with organic content only. This isn’t your fault. It’s because Facebook makes it that way to sell ads. And like it or hate it, you have to live with it if you choose to use Facebook.
Let me break it down further. These are the things I think you can do to survive, and even thrive, with the latest Facebook Newsfeed change.
1. Creat interesting relevant content
This seems like a no-brainer and has always been true of Facebook. If you’re not creating content that gets your audience engaged and interacting, then you’ll be finding your engagement low and growth stunted.
There are lots of ways to create great content. Spend some time on it. First, make sure you have a strategy (what are you on Facebook? What are you trying to achieve?) and probably the most important - know your audience (what do they want to hear about?)
Now, more than ever, it will be important for your posts to generate engagement and comments:
2. But...Don’t use engagement bait
Facebook has talked about this in the past, and it came up again last week. Posts that use ‘engagement baiting’ will be demoted in the newsfeed.
3. Use video. Live video to be exact.
So it seems Facebook is essentially forcing us all into using Facebook Live video. *facepalm*.
But guys, here’s your second reality check for the day. It’s nothing new that Facebook Live is a great way to interact with your audience. If you haven’t at least tried it with your audience, you need to.
Does it work for everyone? No. But if you can make it relevant and fit with your strategy, make it a priority. Now.
I’m not saying make every post a live video, but its one quick way you can create engaging and high-ranking content.
4. Look into Facebook Groups
If you’ve been thinking of creating a group linked to your page or organisation’s work, now might be the time to hit fast forward those plans. If you already have a group, perhaps it’s time to start putting a little more time into creating an active community in your group. It’s another way to speak to engagement meaningfully with your audience, without being at the mercy of the newsfeed.
5. Don’t put all your eggs in one social media basket
I always advise non-profits to target their limited resources to one social media platform, and kick ass. But perhaps it’s time for a rethink on that. Let’s not throw Facebook away just yet, we need to see how this change will actually roll out.
But perhaps it’s time to reassess your organisation’s reliance on Facebook as your sole, social media platform.
I’m not saying Instagram or Twitter is for everyone either (don’t forget to stick to your strategy) but can you diversify your social media activity so that the blow of any future major changes to any platform can be softened? It’s worth some thought.
6. Stay true to you
Yes, it’s a cliché, but these changes don’t mean you need to throw your strategy and purpose out the window. You know what your organisation’s mission is. You are the expert what you do. You need to translate that for your audience.
This comes down to having a good strategy and knowing why Facebook is worth your time.
7. Accept you may need to advertise
As I mentioned earlier in this post, Facebook is an advertising platform. Full stop.
I know with a small non-profit this is easier said than done, but it’s a part of the reality of Facebook. So perhaps you need to work harder at convincing your management it’s time to try advertising for that important upcoming campaign or fundraising appeal.
At the end of the day, I really believe there’s no need to panic. Do I wish it wasn’t happening? Yes. Is it fair? No. Are we all at the mercy of Facebook’s every whim? Probably.
These thoughts won’t help you or me. If you’re ticking the boxes with strategy and content I do believe you can ‘beat’ the newsfeed, and even work with it.
Yes, maybe engagement will take a dive over the next six months. Or maybe it won’t. If it does, you adjust.
That’s what a clever marketer does.