Facebook rolled out another batch of changes last week and announced even more. There has been the usual clamor of complaints and boycott threats from those not happy about the modifications, but let’s face it, Facebook is not going anywhere. So, I recommend a more constructive response:
- Learn as much as you can about the most recent changes
- Understand how they affect your organization and then
- Adjust your Facebook strategy to make the most of them
The New Newsfeed
The changes individual users notice immediately are the changes to the newsfeed.
Gone is the “Top News” with the option to switch to “Most Recent.” Now there are Top Stories and Recent Stories. The Top Stories are things Facebook thinks you might be interested in based on your interaction in the past. The Recent Stories are in chronological order, but they don’t include everything from all your friends. Facebook filters Recent Stories and only gives you what it thinks you’ll want to see.
Introducing the Ticker
For those who want to see all their “friends’” status updates, Facebook has introduced the Ticker, which is a real-time list of everything your friends are doing. It includes everything in Recent Stories plus notices of when your friends add friends, like pages, comment on stories, play Farmville, and more.
In other words, the Ticker is what old Facebook used to be.
It also looks suspiciously like Twitter.
New Lists = Google+ Circles
The other big change individual users will notice is that Facebook has improved their lists functionality. It functions a lot like circles in Google+. Once a user creates a list, they can not only click to view just the updates from the people on that list, but they can now also publish content that only people on that list can see.
So, you can now create a “family” list and share pictures so only people on that list can see them. Or you can create a “work” list and post links to industry-related news that only your co-workers would be interested instead of bothering everyone with it. You can share content with multiple lists, make it public, or even hide from specific individuals.
There are a bunch of other new things that are available now like watching TV & movies with your friends, listening to music and seeing what your friends are listening too, and others big changes that are coming soon like the Timeline and Facebook Gestures. But those won’t have much have much impact on churches and non-profits now, and that’s where I want to go next.
Likes Less Important, Engagement Critical
With the changes to individual users newsfeeds, Facebook takes another step towards playing god in what content Facebook users see.
All content is not created equal. No longer can you expect everyone who “likes” your organization’s Facebook page to see everything you post to Facebook. Status updates, photos, videos and links that get “likes” and “comments” have become even more prominent and thus more likely to be seen, while those that do not have become even less prominent and less likely to be seen.
This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for churches, non-profits and businesses. It’s more important than ever that organizations engage people with their content. Those that do will find their content being seen by more people.
Furthermore, every time someone likes or comments on your content, that action shows up in all their friends Tickers. So, engaging content gets double prominence.
If you manage your organization’s Facebook page, every time you post to Facebook you have to ask yourself more than, “What do I want people to know?” You have to ask yourself, “What do I want people to do?” And “How can post this in a way that will invoke a response?”
Relationship Building More Important
If you use Facebook personally, you understand that you engage more with the people you have the best relationships with – your immediate family and close friends. The same is true with organizations. The better your organization builds relationships with its “fans” the more they will “like” and comment on your content. That means doing things like
- listening and responding to wall posts and comments
- posting polls and asking for feedback
- featuring members or customers
- posting photos and video of your “fans” interacting with your organization offline
- Which recent changes to Facebook do you think will have the biggest impact on churches and non-profits? Why?
- Do you think engagement and relationships on Facebook are more important than ever now?
- What are you doing to strengthen relationships and engage more in Facebook?