The Caliber Blog

September 2, 2013

3 Facebook Updates You Need to Know About

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Facebook has announced a raft of changes

The updates and announcements just keep on rolling in from Facebook, who this week armed marketers with three beneficial developments on the platform. Contests, advertising and algorithm updates were the order of the week, opening up marketing possibilities and informing future strategy.

1. Facebook News Feed Ranking Algorithm Update

Facebook offered more details regarding the intricate workings of its algorithm, which determines what content users are shown in their News Feeds.

What is determined high-quality content, so as to ensure the best organic reach, comes from a system developed by Facebook after surveying thousands of people. The insights garnered from this sample and their opinions on content quality informed the new News Feed ranking system which uses more than 1,000 different factors.

Facebook candidly revealed just three of these factors (hopefully more will be released soon!):

i) Optimising for graph search – How has your business page profile been completed?

Since the implementation of graph search, many brands have reported that their profiles do not appear easily in search. An important SEO reminder from Facebook advised ensuring that the ‘About’ section of your business page is fully completed and keyword rich. Providing as much content here as possible allows Facebook to ensure your page is correctly categorized and searchable by its users.

ii) Does your fan base overlap with other Facebook pages of a similar quality?

Mari Smith offers some great advice around this factor – by creating interests lists and monitoring competitive pages you can identify what is working for them and allow it to inform your strategy. Then, by using Facebook ads to target the fanbase of these pages, you have increased targeting and have a lower CPC (cost per fan).

iii) How much negative feedback does your page have?

When people hide your posts in their News Feeds (organic or sponsored), this shows in your insights as negative feedback. It is essential to look at this figure per post if possible to allow you to identify what type of content or messaging is potentially turning your fans off your brand.

If you are boosting every post, and not selecting to show it purely to existing fans of your page, other Facebook users in their networks could find this advertising aggressive, and will continually hide it. By being aware of what posts provided the most negative feedback and where this feedback is coming from, you can help your future chances in the News Feed.

Facebook’s overall tips for improving page content were somewhat generic, but good reminders nonetheless:

  • Make your posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with your audience
  • Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

Read the original announcement here.

Competitions can now be based on Facebook Likes

2. Facebook proposes changes to privacy, connecting users’ likes to advertising

In yet another update to user privacy on Facebook, the platform announced it is considering changes to its documents around how users’ likes data can be used. Facebook wants to make it clear to users that their likes and interests can be used in Facebook advertising and assist with targeting.

The update is scheduled from 5th September and will mark an important change in what rights users grant to Facebook, in terms of how they can use their data. Facebook is still asking for user feedback on their opinions on this change to data, and how they can take information from your email address.

Currently, marketers can select interests in Facebook advertising, which their fan base has an affinity to and regularly interacts with. This allows for more generic targeting as, unless you are currently an admin on a competitor page, there is no way to  directly market to their existing fans.

Will targeting by likes allow marketers to promote their content directly to a competitor’s community? This may be Facebook’s way of ensuring that its pages are offering only high-quality content, and so increasing competition will encourage more bespoke and creative strategies and campaigns. Not to mention a vast increase in Facebook ad spend as a way of maintaining your place in the competitive ranks . . .

This may level the playing field somewhat in allowing smaller brands to advertise directly to their household name competitors, offering attractive competitions and rewards for their allegiance.

Smaller brands may be able to muscle in on the bigger ones
Image from Optify.net

3. Facebook changes its terms on running competitions without third-party apps

Marketers struggled for a long time to be able to host a competition with limited barriers to entry. Many users don’t want to have to allow apps access to their profiles, or to add an email address to enter. A simple comment to win, like and share for extra entries – this used to be a big ‘no-no’ in the Facebook rule book. Many smaller brands used to flout this rule, but larger brands could not risk having their pages deleted after investing heavily in them.

Last week Facebook announced a change in its promotion terms, allowing marketers to host competitions on their pages without using a third-party app. The cost of having to build an app often meant some brands could not leverage the community they had built, having to use traditional methods such as hosting the competition on a blog or website. Brands were not allowed to ask users to like or comment as a method of entry, or post a photograph on their wall. Promotions and contests were, in basic terms, forced off the platform.

The change in terms now states “Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook.” Facebook states that pages can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

This is great news for marketers in terms of being able to provide their communities with smaller, lower investment incentives for being part of the community. As competitions are shared very easily (with the right prize and post content) Facebook advertising and development costs can be kept down, and budget redistributed for frequent contests to attract fans.

Although ‘like and share’ competitions are easy to enter, brands should ask for a relevant and creative comment to accompany the entry process. This is both for weight in Edgerank and to ensure some form of user-generated content – ‘liked and shared’ commented 500 times over does not have as much value in generating interesting conversation on your page.

So why has Facebook changed the rules?

With an ever-increasing platform, it could be nigh on impossible to monitor and police every single business page. As abuse of terms by a page would need to be manually reported, this remains an inefficient model by which to grow. Pages still need to ensure their competitions and promotions clearly state that “the promotion is in no way sponsored,endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”

As the number of users logging in via mobile vastly increases (819 million active monthly mobile users, August 2013), Facebook’s mobile app continues to display pages and their content in a wholly inaccurate manner. Getting page tabs and many apps to work on mobile continues to challenge the platform.

Facebook allows post images to contain 20% or less text in order to be approved for paid promotion. This will ensure that the platform doesn’t become a free-for-all of low-quality competition ads.

Despite the relaxed policy, however, community managers will now need to sift through comments and moderate posts with a potentially huge number of engagements. Voting mechanics and fair selection will need to be maintained and so a thumbs up for many campaigns as a whole, but a tad more work for those monitoring pages!

What are your thoughts on Facebook’s announcements? How will they affect you and your page?

Erin Simons is Social Media Account Director at Caliber. Connect with her on Google+.


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