Like it or loathe it, Facebook shapes the way we communicate with one another, consume news and, perhaps for the most common part, procrastinate at the office. With so much of our time subconsciously dedicated to our News Feeds, the importance of fully harnessing the commercial potential of Facebook cannot be stressed enough.
And one pretty obvious way to do that? Stay abreast of the key updates and new features that the world’s biggest social media platform rolls out on a regular basis.
Here are three Facebook updates/new features that you should know about in 2018.
Updated News Feed algorithm = more meaningful, personal interaction
Let’s start off with the big one that’s currently keeping social media marketers up at night: The January 2018 News Feed change.
Facebook uses mathematical equations (algorithms), to determine what kinds of things are useful for each user (content prioritization). Manually tweak that algorithm, which Facebook has just done big time, and the result is a drastically different looking News Feed.
This begs the question: why Mark, why? Here’s what the CEO wrote on January 11:
“As we roll this out you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
So, for individual users wanting to steer clear of pesky ads and promoted posts, this Facebook ‘fix’ definitely seems like good news. But what does it mean for brands and marketers running a Page?
In the short-term, it does look as though a Page’s key metrics will take a hit, especially organic post reach and subsequent referral traffic. As for the future? Think of it like this: competition breeds innovation. In this case, that ‘innovation’ refers to the quality of the content your page is putting out to the public.
And while the definition of ‘quality content’ is not set in stone, it’s still always worth considering these best practices before hitting that post button.
- Tailor the nature of your content towards your target audience
- Keep it relevant and up-to-date to foster conversation in the comments section
- Avoid clickbait headlines and instead go for accurate depictions or invitations as to what the reader will find
Remember also: quality content relevant to a particular audience = a happy and engaged audience = a greater likelihood of them clicking like, share or even that magic “See First” option under the Page’s “Following” tab.
Machine Learning Model = less clickbait
We all seem to complain about posts with titles like “You won’t believe what the HUGE star did at her 25th birthday…” and Pages that ask their audience to “Tag a friend who does this!” – but for some reason, these kinds of posts still always appear on our News Feed, often with tens-of-thousands of likes and shares.
The good news is that Facebook has been working on an AI model (again, powered by algorithms) that aims to fight against these clickbait and engagement bait posts.
The latest machine learning model has been engineered by Facebook’s developers over the last year, with its bots crawling and analyzing millions of posts. This has allowed a sort of quality spectrum to be established; at the top end would be meaningful posts with quality content, while at the bottom you’d find posts that forcefully seek engagement and dupe users into clicking (for the end-goal of increased ad revenue).
The idea behind this is closely tied in with the philosophy behind Facebook’s recently-announced News Feed change: to improve the user experience by creating more meaningful interactions between friends. In other words, they are trying to separate the wheat from the chaff by penalizing clickbait content.
The new ‘Lists’ status update feature = TBC…
Finally, we’ll finish on a lighter note by discussing a cool – but not exactly revolutionary new feature being introduced in 2018.
Step forward, Facebook Lists!
Facebook Lists is actually the first new feature to be added to the status update box seen since the start of 2017 when we were treated to the option of colored backgrounds and bold text.
Essentially, the Lists function allows you to write your status as a sort of to-do list or wish-list. Users are able to specify the List title, add in items, choose a background color and then integrate any one of the existing status update functions, such as Check in, Tag Friends, Feeling etc.
Facebook has explained that this new feature is just a small part of its wider effort of creating a more personal platform. Statistics do show that we are posting much less – around a 15% decrease from one year ago, so perhaps we can expect to see more small but quirky functions implemented to encourage more personal posts. After all, knowing all the places your old college friend is planning to visit next month (via list-form) is, apparently, quite important!