The times they are a’changing in the world of social media. We’ve already had the launch of Google Plus this year, and a couple of weeks back at the F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced some big changes to their site, signalling a major shift in the way they want content to be viewed and shared by individuals and businesses using the platform. The reaction from users has so far been a little mixed, to say the least.
This week’s blog post looks at what has changed, and whether these changes will benefit or hinder brands on Facebook. Is it still business as usual, or is a new approach required in order for brands to get the very most out of their Facebook pages?
What’s New on Facebook?
The change which has had the most influence on ordinary users is the new-look timeline. Instead of a purely chronological stream with most recent posts appearing on top of the older ones, you now see ‘top posts’ at the head of your stream. These are the posts that Facebook perceives you will find most interesting and relevant, based on your previous behaviour and interactions on the site. So the idea is that friends who you communicate with regularly on Facebook will be given more prominence for their posts, while contacts who you rarely engage with will be relegated to lower down the feed, and may not get seen at all.
The top news feature may not be a welcome addition for brands on Facebook. Fans of a brand are often willing to ‘like’ a page, but may not subsequently want to engage with the brand regularly. This could mean that Facebook identifies the brand page as one of the user’s less important contacts, and therefore gives its updates diminished prominence, meaning that updates from the brand page may not be seen by the user.
For a long time, the emphasis for brands on facebook has been to go out of their way to get as many likes as possible. Expedia achieving a million likes has been used often as a case study of a massively successful social media campaign. Now, it seems that the number of fans is not important unless those fans are actively engaged with the business. A strategy of chasing thousands of likes will not bear fruit if your legion of new fans never see anything you post.
As a further signpost of Facebook’s new engagement-focused direction, there are now a few little additions to the layout of brand pages. You may have noticed that under the number of likes on a brand page there is now another number for ‘talking about this’. This, we are told, is a cumulative score worked out by Facebook to reflect how many people are liking, commenting and posting on the brand page. Many brands are likely to be in for a shock when they see how low their score is, which emphasises once again the point that just having lots of likes isn’t enough in the eyes of Facebook – they want to see your brand page become a hub of activity and a community that fans keep coming back to.
With this in mind, it is perhaps a little bizarre that Facebook have also decided to remove the discussion boards on brand pages, since this was a great place for people with an interest in a brand to communicate with other fans. We’d heard businesses tell us how useful they found these discussions for getting specific portions of their fans talking about certain aspects of the business, and now that chatter will be restricted to the main wall, meaning it will be much harder to segment your Facebook fanbase.
So what changes do you need to make to your social media strategy to deal with these alterations in the Facebook ’s makeup? The priority now more than ever is to make sure people are engaging with your brand, so you might want to consider holding competitions, asking questions and posting photos which people can comment on. If your business is location-based (i.e. a holiday park or hotel) then make sure you have enabled a Facebook check-in, which allows people to notify their friends when they have arrived on your premises.
If you’d like to know more about using Facebook effectively for your business, why not give us a call today on 01305 542000