It’s September. Let that sink in. Schools are back, bars across the country are now advertising their Christmas party offerings and knowing the UK, the weather will get inexplicably better for a week, then nose dive into autumnal rain and wind. So with this in mind, let’s take a look back at August and pretend that we’re not nearly three quarters of the way through the year.
Why August I hear you say? Well, back in August Facebook announced exciting new changes to its newsfeed algorithm that could have a huge impact on the online activity of businesses and the media. Alongside Facebook’s regular promise to eliminate ‘fake news’, they have also committed to favour stories and links that lead to mobile optimised sites with a quick loading time.
In a post to Facebook’s Newsroom, engineers Jiayi Wen and Shengbo Guo highlighted that “as many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.” So wave goodbye to those fake news click bait articles leading you to a website seemingly created by Tim Berners-Lee at the birth of the internet, back when Mark Zuckerburg was just a twinkle in his father’s eye.
But how does this change effect business and media? Most businesses will have a mobile optimised website, but for those that don’t, it’s time to play catch up. Social media plays a key role in the reputation of a brand or business, and having your content pushed further down the newsfeed or simply not being served to users because of a poor website won’t help build that reputation any time soon.
Media may also need to re-evaluate their social strategy. Enter Facebook’s Instant Articles. The cynic in me might think that Facebook’s change in algorithm based on the speed a website and the push on their own platform that hosts articles may have been carefully planned, but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
One of the major benefits of hosting content on Instant Articles is a faster load time, which should garner higher organic reach with the new algorithm. If load time impacts the reach of a post, it makes sense that publishers host their content on Facebook. The platform, which has been around for about two years, hasn’t attracted many publishers due to the fact they don’t make the same money they would by simply driving people to their website. So are we about to see more Daily Mail articles hosted directly on Facebook?
What all of this shows it the power of Facebook. One simple change to their algorithm means that business and media need to amend their digital approach, whether that be a simple tweak to optimise their site or rethink their strategy for online revenue. The new algorithm will begin to kick in this month, so watch this space. And by space, I mean Instant Articles. You could be getting a lot of your news from there in the coming months.
Almost every one of us has been there…having a browse on Facebook, checking what our mates got up to at the weekend whilst we wait for the bus, when suddenly a friend request pops up. Upon opening the request, it dawns upon you that Great Aunt Dolly has got Facebook, and she wants to be your ‘friend’.
Putting aside the mental gymnastics we’ve all done to justify ignoring the friend request, one thing is clear – Facebook’s audience is getting older and is no longer limited to a younger market. According to Hootsuite, 56% of online users in the US aged 65+ are using Facebook, and a whopping 79% of 30-49 year olds are joining the ranks of the social savvy on that channel too.
Social media platforms have traditionally been seen as a space for young people to share their lives with friends, but now the parents and grandparents of this generation are getting in on the act. And now, in this technologically advanced age, YouTube channel subscribers can be easily bought. So, what does it mean for PR and social media activity?
Our insights suggest that women aged 40-65+ are 40% more likely to engage with posts on Facebook than the average user. They’re also 13% more likely to click on an ad or boosted post making them an active and lucrative audience for the right brands or content.
As this ever-growing audience begins to connect with friends and their favourite brands, it offers PR agencies the opportunity to engage them with exciting, creative and targeted content, sure to drive the conversation around brands and have them tagging friends and sharing in no time.
We’ll leave you with a few of our favourite social influencers that are showing the world that age is no barrier to being a social star!
Baddie has a staggering three million Instagram followers and has worked with brands such as Misguided to help reach new audiences.
“Stealing yo man since 1928”… need we say anymore?
This New York style icon has over 500,000 followers on Instagram and lives by the motto “More is more & less is bore”. Preach.
Over the last few weeks, people may have noticed Facebook users sharing rare sightings of the lesser-spotted Facebook rocket on their social feeds, calling for the community to confirm its purpose on their timeline.
For those not yet in the know, Facebook has introduced the rocket icon to just a handful of users as part of its test for a second, complementary News Feed concept. Hoping to introduce people to fresh new content they wouldn’t have otherwise accessed, this customised feed is filled with videos, stories and articles that Facebook algorithms believe the user will be interested in.
Whilst Facebook is already suggesting content based on what users have previously engaged with, it’s thought the new feed only provides content from pages that are unknown to the user as well as items that their friends and family have reacted to. As a result, it allows users to connect with content they won’t have seen to date – broadening their social horizons!
But what does this mean for PR and content creation? Whilst it’s not yet known at this stage whether the rocket icon will be rolled out to all Facebook users, or the final details of how the second feed would work, the one thing we believe here at Rich is that customising content will only increase in importance as these explore-style functions continue to pop up across social channels.
When developing content briefs, it’s often tempting to set out trying to please as many audiences as possible in order to maximse your reach, your budget and ‘spread the net’ as far as you can. Knowing your specific audience and daring to tailor make content and promotional plans for their needs, rather than creating for the masses, can be more daunting than you’d think but it’s certainly necessary to ensure success. There’s a big difference between people seeing content and openly engaging with it. And, as more and more emphasis is placed on engagement through algorithms and dedicated exploration feeds, we’ll need to be more pinpointed with our content than ever to ensure we’re saying something relevant to the right people in order to inspire that all important reaction that will get your content noticed and shared.
Facebook is ramping up its efforts to make scrolling through News Feed a better experience with a series of recent updates aimed at making it a place full of content that’s more relevant to an individual users’ needs. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that the way brands communicate on the social media juggernaut’s platform adds genuine value and not just more lazy, hazy noise.
The News Feed algorithm is constantly under review as Facebook tries to find the delicate balance to keep everyone happy. There are lots of what Facebook call ‘signals’ which help to decide what they think may be relevant to each user. We know that the key signals in deciding what is in News Feed are who posted content, what type of content is posted, the number and type of engagements with that content and when the content is posted.
The latest updates include new signals to show users more authentic and timely stories, plus adding more value to video completion rates.
Pages that are posting spam, consistently trying to game feed (asking for Likes, Comments, Shares) or have their posts hidden by users, may be in trouble. Facebook could deem that the content those Pages (Brands) post isn’t authentic, which will only have a negative impact on its News Feed status. On the flip side, if the new signals judge a post to be authentic, it may show up higher in users’ News Feed. As an aside, Facebook’s high-profile attempts at clamping down on fake news is likely to be a long, on-going process using some sort of AI/human verification process. It’s a major topic on the wider news agenda so FB are ploughing major resource in to fighting it and improving the overall authenticity of the site.
A lot has been made in the past about posting content at a specific time. As mentioned, Facebook’s algorithm has been updated to weight other signals more heavily in deciding what’s relevant, meaning there’s less focus on content having to be posted at a specific time of day (who posted, type of content etc). However, the new ‘real time’ update is designed look at how signals change on the fly. For example, if lots of people engage on a particular post or topic in a short space of time, Facebook may judge that it would be temporarily more important to you. A recent example of where this would have come in to effect could have been with the SuperBowl which captured the attention of 60 million people on Facebook, who created over 200 million posts, comments and likes.
Video is just one of the many types of content that a user, or brand, can post and Facebook wants to organically serve relevant videos to users. With regards to News Feed rankings, it has taken in to account whether it’s Live, how long it’s been watched for, whether people turn sound on or opt to view full screen. Now (finally), it’s giving more weighting to completion rates. This means that if you watch most (at least half) or all of a video, you’re telling FB that you find it compelling as completing (or getting to halfway) on a longer video is a bigger commitment than with a shorter one. Facebook is therefore weighting completion rates more heavily the longer the video is to avoid penalising longer videos. This is also good news for users who enjoy watching long-form videos as they’re now likely to see more in their News Feed.
Here are some things to take from these updates:
1. Make your content relevant to your audience – this is always the message. Don’t get lazy and add to the noise. Think about whether it’s authentic or telling a meaningful story. Ask the question: is this going to add value to my audience?
2. Make use of Paid – it’s hard to cut through the noise and sometimes it’s not enough to make what looks like good content on paper and expect it to perform exactly how you hoped organically. Paid is a good way to target a specific audience in News Feed, but you’ve still got to make sure they’re seeing relevant content.
3. The ideal length of a video is whatever time is required to tell a compelling story that engages with your audience. Look at your analytics to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Back in late February, Facebook made one of its most major changes to post interaction ever by introducing reactions, This was, supposedly, to offer us a new way to engage with our favourite brands. And the five new reactions would also give social media teams a greater depth of analysis, allowing for some interesting insights into the way people engage with content.
But two and a half months on, new research from Quintly could have Facebook feeling both
Having analysed 130,000 Facebook posts they’ve come to the conclusion that a meagre 3% of engagements utilize the new reactions, with many users choosing the familiarity of likes, shares and comments to express their feelings instead.
Facebook reactions are still in their infancy, so it might be too early to draw any serious conclusions from this research. The initial excitement in the office quickly turned to apathy as the expected flood of loves, wows and hahas simply never appeared. Rome wasn’t built in a day though, and Facebook will be hoping that over time users become more accustomed to the new set up, and so should we.
Here at Lucre, we’re always striving to make our content even more engaging and Facebook reactions allows us to take a more detailed look at how users are responding to content, brands and campaigns. With this improved insight social posts can be tailored more specifically allowing us to create fantastic and engaging content.
So give a love and a haha once in a while, you’ll be thankful when it results in that dull and dreary content disappearing from your timeline.