Recently I was on Facebook scrolling down my newsfeed when I noticed that a bunch of status updates were grouped into one, under the heading “Adam Smith and 17 others posted about “X”… (‘X’ being a particular topic).
This is an interesting move on the part of Facebook. Stories are now being automatically grouped together based on a particular topic or story. Hmmm…
What does this change in Facebook’s posts mean for marketers?
Basically, if you post links or status updates about trending topics, or stories that are popular, you may start seeing fewer social impressions on posts. Why? Because your posts are now susceptible to being hidden within the newsfeed!
It does give the power of choice to the consumer i.e. consumers can now choose to expand ‘similar posts’ and read all updates if interested in the topic or story (way to go Facebook for actually thinking about the user for once, even if it was accidentally!). But on the flip side, does this change take away the power of ‘impression reach’ from brands and advertisers trying to engage with consumers on Facebook?
Depends on how you look at it…
On the one hand, brands may start to see fewer “social impressions” delivered on Facebook posts… especially on posts that are similar or trending in popularity. On the other hand, these lower impressions might be more valuable i.e. only people who are interested in a particular topic will expand similar posts to see what everyone is saying about that topic.
For example, if the grouped posts are all about “Halloween” and I’m still looking for costume ideas or price reduced candy, I may expand similar stories and come across a post that is more relevant to me. Of course, if it’s more relevant, I may be more inclined to engage in the conversation or click on a link that takes me to a site selling cool Halloween costumes or candy. This higher relevancy effect will therefore impact conversion or engagement rates on Facebook i.e. fewer impressions could cause higher engagement… and higher engagement improves social media KPI performance… can somebody say “win-win”?
I know, I know… it’s a very basic example and it’s probably too soon to tell. Before arriving at any firm conclusion, social media marketers and managers will have to test and monitor the overall impact of this change. Impressions might go down… engagement might go up… or worse, engagement could also go down!… in any case, Facebook’s new “grouped stories” and “similar posts” could compel social media marketers to only post unique and fresh content. No more topic bandwagon jumpers! In fact, it could put more pressure on social media managers to come up with creative ways to ensure their “social marketing impressions” are delivered with as much reach as possible.
So… how many other ways can you say “Halloween” without saying “Halloween” ? :)
Here are some strategies to help you adapt to Facebook’s change:
1) If your updates are fuelled by other social media networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn, then just be cautious about posting updates on “popular topics” or “stories” that other people in your social network may already be talking about. It’s okay to participate in trending topics of course; just give your post some thought before you release it.
2) If you do want to engage with a popular story or topic, try doing so without using the trending keyword. For example, rather than saying “Scary last-minute Halloween costume ideas for cheap prices!”… try saying “These outfits at these prices will make Freddy jealous”. By simply changing the words and avoiding certain keywords, you can prevent Facebook from grouping and hiding your posts (Disclaimer: this may not be Facebook’s algorithm – but do test this strategy – my hunch is that it’ll work!).
3) Come up with creative and fresh content. Stop doing what every other social media manager is doing in every other post. As a marketer, you’ll have to be more creative in order to be truly effective!
On another note, I’ve been meaning to write more about Facebook these days. With all these changes they’re making, Facebook is starting to remind me of Myspace (and we all know what happened to them!). At the end of the day, Facebook should ask themselves, are these changes really what consumers and users want from the Facebook product? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I really liked Facebook from back in the day… when it was simple, easy to use, and allowed me to connect with friends and family seamlessly. Now? I wonder…