It’s been a few weeks now since Facebook announced a slew of new changes. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already read thousands of words far more eloquent than mine about the ins and outs of the changes. Suffice to say, like Prakky, it has rekindled my love of Facebook.
Why you ask? Because Facebook has made it all about me again. The ability to curate old posts, add new milestones and generally better tell the story of my life via Timeline has put us – the users – right back at the centre of social networking. And that’s a good thing.
I also remember a time when Facebook used to be lived in your friend’s profiles, but the introduction of the newsfeed changed this dynamic (for the better) but also meant that as you people became more active on Facebook your timeline could quickly fill up with crap. The introduction of the ticker and lightweight status updates has also meant that newsfeeds are more interesting and relevant. Likes, pokes, check-ins, etc. are now relegated to the ticker, freeing up the newsfeed for real updates and making it easier to surface the important stuff.
But, like I said, this post isn’t about recapping the changes, it’s about what this means for how businesses use Facebook.
Where did everyone go?
If you manage a Facebook page, the first thing you would’ve noticed with the changes to ticker and timeline was the arse falling out of your impression numbers. Suddenly Facebook page posts were far less visible and while impressions are never the best metric to measure Facebook success, it is still the best number available as to how many people you could be reaching and how visible your are in general.
Now if you don’t know much about Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, I’d recommend you read this and then come back. I’ll wait.
Done? Ok, let’s continue.
Pages that have a low EdgeRank on their posts are going to find it even harder to reach their followers. So if you get low engagement, or your followers have very little affinity with you, you’re pretty much screwed. Even though everything still goes into ticker, you really want your posts to be surfaced in the newsfeed.
Now from a user perspective, this isn’t such a bad thing. The whole idea behind EdgeRank is to ensure your newsfeed is populated with posts that are most important (in terms of affinity, relevance and time) to you. What this means for Facebook pages though is that they need to be doing more to engage their followers and posting content that elicits a response – no easy task as any page owner will tell you!
My prediction from all this is that as it gets harder to reach your audience on Facebook, many brands will shift their efforts to Twitter where reciprocity – e.g. we have to follow each other to interact – isn’t mandatory.
More bang for your buck
With most businesses struggling to appropriately resource social media, it often comes down to where you can have the most impact – and fast. Especially as it is doubtful they are adequately measuring, optimising and enhancing their social programs to find what works on Facebook, Twitter may start to look much more attractive.
Twitter’s ability to reach out and connect with any other public profile is a huge selling point for the platform. In terms of acquisition, it holds far more potential for identifying and reaching out to partially qualified prospects than Facebook. To open the door for a conversation to begin, all someone needs to do is mention they are in the market for your product and BAM! you’ve got an opportunity to talk with them. At the University of Adelaide, we not only monitor Twitter for our brand keywords but also keywords and phrases relating to studying in Australia. This has opened up countless opportunities for us to be helpful and provide information about living in Adelaide, the Uni and the degrees we offer to people who are actively searching for it, many of whom have gone on to apply to study here.
Now Facebook does a lot of things amazingly well and can genuinely be an online hub for your brand, but it doesn’t easily facilitate conversations with people who aren’t already connected to your brand in some way. While Facebook is too big to ignore and you would never ditch your presence entirely, the decreased visibility of brands on the platform may ultimately see more of them focusing their efforts on Twitter where the interactions can be more personal and immediate.