Facebook’s announcement that it will show more content from individuals and less from organisations has made many charity fundraisers and marketers ponder how they should react.
Until now charities have focused on sharing content and interacting with supporters and the public via their Facebook page. Following last week’s announcement this looks likely to be a less effective tactic on its own.
What did Facebook announce?
Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook, announced that “over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.”
He added: “we will also prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”
Note that the emphasis is on “people” rather than “organisations”, whether they be for-profit or charities.
In a video explanation he summarised these changes: “person to person [communications] will be more valuable than person to page”.
It’s more about valuing stories that facilitate meaningful interactions between people. As it turns out people interact more with stories from friends than from publishes, and so on average friends and groups see gains and publishers see less distribution.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) January 12, 2018
Why the change?
Mosseri stated that Facebook will “prioritise posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.”
This suggests that the move is, in part, Facebook’s response to accusations that it has helped spread “fake news” and other manipulative content. It also might be responding to users’ expectations to see more relevant, personal content from friends, family members and other individual contacts.
Mark Zuckerberg himself confirmed the latter in his message explaining the changes. He wrote: “we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
Here’s what Zuckerberg had to say:
One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.We built…
It is not exactly new. In June 2016 Facebook announced that it was prioritising friends and family content to keep you “connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”
What should charities do?
Chasing every last tweak that Facebook makes to its service is not the best use of fundraisers’ time. Indeed, just using Facebook in a more considered way could be a good tactic for many charities in the fact of this change.
That said, this change could prove a challenge, especially for charities that rely on Facebook to drive traffic and actions. It is a substantial shift. Zuckerberg confirms that, saying: “we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
The good news for charities is:
- the renewed focus on peer-to-peer communications plays to charities’ strengths, whether large or small. Charities thrive on connecting and inspiring like-minded individuals to take collective action.
- content from pages will still appear in followers feed
- video content is still a good way of generating engagement via posts. Live videos in particular “on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”, according to Facebook.
- posts that people respond to – by sharing, liking and commenting – still have a better opportunity of being displayed than those that don’t
The bad news for charities is:
- small charities might find it hard to compete against larger ones for the volume of engagement they attract
- small charities might not have enough resources to check Facebook data on what works, test content and then implement what they find
- small charities could find it hard to find the resources to create and manage effectively a Facebook group
Which tactics to adopt and test?
- Charities could invite Facebook followers to choose ‘See First in News Feed Preferences’ to make sure they always see posts from their favourite Pages. But how many will actually do that?
- Develop Facebook groups because there is often more conversation (‘engagement’) here than on Pages. But there is only any point in doing so if you can manage such a group well, and can be sure it will make up for the expected loss in Page coverage.
- Focus again on learning which kind of Page posts perform best, and emulate those.
- Focus on understanding your audience’s interests and the kind of content they respond to.
- Work harder to generate comments, answers and other responses from Page posts. Don’t broadcast – listen and communicate.
- Can your higher profile supporters, staff, volunteers and donors use their personal Facebook posts more to spread your charity’s messages and calls to action?
- Don’t forget to focus on non-Facebook channels, especially those that you control e.g. email communications.
More suggestions and comment
Vinay Nair of Lightful told UK Fundraising: “I think we should welcome moves to improve Facebook and generally the quality of engagement on social media. I do think there are some challenges for charities, particularly as the reach of ‘organic’ posts and pages with limited engagement reduces visibility. However, the purpose of the algorithm change is to improve “community” and “meaningful social interactions”, which play directly to the sector’s strengths.
“Unlike most businesses and brands, people are keen to amplify the stories of the causes they care about and how they are fundraising and supporting them. Doing this will lead to more engagement, and so there is actually a real opportunity here for the sector.”
Tom Lillywhite on Medium suggests: “Mobilising packs of micro-influencers is fast becoming the future of organic social media campaigning. We need to employ the credibility, passion and voice of our supporters. By harnessing supporters’ influence on social media we’ll effect real change.”
He added: “People are 16 times more likely to click on the post of a friend than an organisation, and 135 dedicated supporters sharing a post on Facebook can reach as many people as the same post on a page with 1,000,000 fans.”
Joseph Freeman, also writing on Medium, suggests applying skills and experience your charity might already have. “If you’ve got a separate online community, you should absolutely be looking to see how you can learn from that to start driving more conversations on Facebook posts.”
He added: “The trend of people just tagging their friends in posts will become more important.”
On live video he advised: “What’s coming up this year that you can do Live, and how can you feasibly add it into your content planning?”
Golden rule for all things Tech – Users First!
Don't use tech for sake of it, what problem are you trying to solve? What's best for your users?
— Alexia Page (@AlexiaPage) January 19, 2018
On the JustGiving blog Matt Collins reminds us in 5 things you need to know about Facebook’s news feed changes: “Remember, you can still only get your message to 2-5% of people who like your page with any content. Facebook actually was and remains a great way to not reach people.”
Beth Kanter shared her thoughts too. In Facebook Announces Overhaul of Newsfeed: What Does It Mean for Nonprofits? she summarised some reactions from others, and invited readers to share their plans on how to deal with the changes at their nonprofit.
So many publishers think they have audiences, when what they really have is traffic.
I think we’re about to find out who has an audience
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) January 12, 2018
Watch: Nick Burne and Chris Dellaca on charities and the new Facebook feed
Digital experts Nick Burne and Chris Dellaca shared their thoughts on what the latest Facebook feed change might mean for charities and nonprofits, and how they could respond.
There's been a lot of talk in the non-profit space about Facebook's announcements last week…- Is organic Facebook page reach dead?- Will the cost of Facebook ads increase?- What can we do??? aaaaah!!Understandably people have a lot of questions, but there's no need for doom and gloom! :)If you want to know the REAL IMPACT this will have on your fundraising listen to this live Q&A with Nick and Chris…p.s. if you want to find out more about RAISETHRU go here: https://www.raisethru.com/
Posted by Raisethru on Monday, 15 January 2018
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