How Changes to Facebook Algorithms Could Affect Your School

Facebook has implemented three significant changes over recent weeks, with the platform kicking off 2018 with fundamental differences to the way its News Feed will operate and so we felt this would be a good opportunity to examine how they could effect your school Facebook page.

Fewer Marketing Posts in your Personal News Feed

The first could be considered a coup for the personal user, but has significant implications for schools, as it could effect how many parents see their posts. Posts from companies, brands and media will be reduced in the News Feed, giving way to more updates from friends. Facebook’s aim? To encourage more interaction. In other words, businesses need to inspire conversation among users rather than simply spamming to show higher in the feed.

A fine line has to be walked however. It is known that the higher the engagement of a post, the higher the reach. So Facebook has essentially put a metaphorical foot down here to stop businesses abusing this system. Low value engagement bait posts purely to generate said interaction wont be tolerated, with repercussions in regards to your entire page’s reach. Potentially devastating for a business’s profile.

Putting an end to Engagement Bait

What constitutes as click bait varies, but strict algorithms have been put in place to determine what will and wont be accepted. Vote baiting will be the first on its radar, where users are encouraged to vote with previously defined reactions. Likewise react baiting, where emotional representations to an image are encouraged in the comments. Facebook’s main concern here is the predetermined reactions that must be selected; it is not a true representation of the user’s opinion.

Share baiting, where there is a potential reward for sharing a post (for example a giveaway) is out. Not that sharing should be discouraged, but needs to be on its own merit rather than incentivised. Posts encouraging the tagging of people unconnected to a business will also drop by the wayside. Although tagging is a known and successful communication element on the platform, pushing its use solely as a way to get you in front of a larger audience will no longer be tolerated.

The final clamp down comes in the form of comment baiting. We’ve all seen posts asking us to recite a particular word or phrase in the comment section. Well no more. This instantly generates countless comments but inspires no true communication which is seemingly Facebook’s main aim now.

It is worth noting the company have lifted penalties for posts that need circulation, such as missing children reports, money raising causes and those genuinely asking for advice and help on subjects. What is does mean however is no more lazy posting, exploiting features in order to rank higher in the News Feed. From here on in, such posts will have the opposite effect.

More News from Trusted Sources

In order to combat the latest insurgence of ‘fake news,’ Facebook are also taking steps to prioritise posts from ‘trusted sources’. By surveying users, they are helping to determine whether a news source is considered trustworthy or not. This in turn helps create an algorithm to identify suspicious posts going forward. And so, those considered trustworthy will climb the News Feed, those considered not will drop.

The actual concept of trustworthiness for a business can be a particularly murky area however. Click bait will be discouraged, meaning no hyperbole riddled headlines promising content that the links don’t deliver. Instead, keep things simple; grab users attention by pushing facts to ensure you are considered a truthful source.

See More Local News in your News Feed

Facebook’s final change comes in the form of more locally sourced posts in your News Feed. Its intention here is to encourage an element of community, again re-establishing the platform as a more community-based media. The size of the publisher is irrelevant too, focusing on big news feeds through to smaller community led platforms.

Unlike the other implemented changes, this one is an entirely new concept for Facebook. As such, it’s a little too soon to know how it will be monitored and exactly what implications it will have for organisations. For example, if local businesses promoting blogs on their areas of expertise will constitute as ‘local news’ and thus improve their visibility. Or, will they slip through the algorithm. In theory though, sharing relevant local posts of interest can only help rather than hinder local businesses. In terms of the user, this change will offer up relevant and tailored content – exactly the platform’s new aim.

Facebook Changes for the Good?

All in all, Facebook essentially wants to encourage conversations and what it considers meaningful interactions, bring an element of community back by prioritising posts from friends, family and local news over spammy business posts in the News Feed,  and lead with authentic trustworthy posts its audience will genuinely want to react to.

Facebook themselves are actively encouraging the use of more live videos – particularly those encouraging discussions. As well as a focus on the previously defined local interest element, and posts to get people talking about the bigger issues of the day. All food for thought that businesses can monopolise on to help boost their organic visibility.

There is of course also still the opportunity of paid promotion to get yourself seen. That’s not to say all content, but a carefully selected post likely to generate a good response can make a big impact. Even when done for the slightest amount of time, this has the potential to start a conversation which can then go on to generate much higher organic reach later. And of course, this will benefit your whole page, not just the selected post.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest News Feed changes? A step in the right direction for users, or an unnecessary barrier for businesses trying to reach their audience? Let us know in the comments below.

For more tips on how to increase your organic reach on social media, read this post – How To Increase Your Organic Reach On Social Media.












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