9 Facebook Changes Social Media Marketers Need to Know

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birthdayReady to feel kinda old?

Facebook has been around for 10 years this month. (I KNOW.)

And on the occasion of the social network’s big decade milestone, it seems appropriate to take a closer look at some of the changes that have been taking place at Facebook since our last roundup.

But first, let’s look at how the social media giant has evolved over time with this infographic from  DPFOC:

 

FacebookTurns10Infographic2

Facebook has come a long way in a short decade. Now, let’s take a look at some of its most recent evolutions.

1. Release of Paper app

First up is Paper, the iPhone app Facebook recently released in the U.S. It’s a radical departure from the Facebook newsfeed, designed as an immersive, magazine-style reading experience similar to Flipboard.

Introducing Paper from Facebook on Vimeo.

Users can personalize their experience by choosing from 19 categories (outside of their Facebook feed), including:

  • Headlines
  • Pop Life
  • Ideas
  • All City
  • Family Matters
  • Tech
  • Enterprise
  • Score (sports)
  • Creators (art and design)
  • Flavor (food)
  • Exposure (photography)
  • Equalize (women and feminism)
  • Planet
  • Well Lived
  • Cute
  • LOL
  • Glow (beauty and wellness)
  • Home
  • Pride

With Paper, Facebook is focusing heavily on mobile users, who make up 48 percent of the network’s daily active users and 49 percent of its ad revenue. The app prioritizes visuals, featuring panoramic viewing (just tilt your phone!) and auto-playing video.

Paper-shot

What marketers need to know: Paper could eventually be a significant opportunity for content publishers, but as of now there are no ads in the feed and content is hand-picked by editors, focusing mostly on major media sources. Prepare for the future by focusing on creating visually appealing, magazine-worthy content that also looks great on a mobile device.

2. New opportunities in tagging Pages

On a personal Facebook account, you can tag someone in a photo and their friends may see it in the News Feed – even people that you aren’t friends with.

And now the same is true for Facebook brand Pages, in a change Facebook says is “a new way for people to discover conversations around topics they’ve expressed interest in.”

Now, when a Page tags another Page, Facebook could show the post to people who like or follow the tagged Page. For example, this post by Bleacher Report might be shown to people who follow or like Dwight Howard, even if they haven’t liked Bleacher Report.

What marketers need to know: When it’s a good fit, tagging another brand with a Facebook page (whether a person, company, service, etc.) is now a smart strategy as it offers a chance to tap into a larger Facebook audience.

3. WhatsApp acquisition

One of the biggest recent Facebook announcements is the company’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service. WhatsApp, ad-free and popular mostly outside the U.S., has 450 million users and is growing at a rate of 1 million new users per day.

What marketers need to know: Particularly if your audience is an international one, keep an eye on WhatsApp as a future content sharing platform. Viral content juggernaut Buzzfeed became one of the first to add WhatsApp sharing buttons to its site in October of 2013, and is already seeing more shares to WhatsApp than to Twitter on iOS.

Buzzfeed WhatsApp button
“Every time we looked at WhatsApp’s numbers, it blew us away,” said BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg at Re/Code. “We knew last April this was a huge social network and have become increasingly obsessed with it.”

4. Launch of Trending

In January, Facebook widely rolled out Trending – a dynamic list of popular topics that appears on the right side of users’ News Feeds. Trends are identified by an algorithm that highlights topics that have had a sharp increase in popularity, as opposed to overall volume for a given subject. Trending now can be seen in feeds in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, and Australia, and Facebook is testing a mobile version.

The list is personalized, including topics based on things users have shown interest in and what is trending across Facebook overall. Each topic is accompanied by a headline that briefly explains why it is trending. Users simply click a topic that’s trending to see what people are saying about it.

Facebook Trending

What marketers need to know: There are no sponsorship opportunities yet for Trending, but Facebook says brands might still see benefits. “If there are conversations on Facebook about a brand or business that show a sudden increase in chatter around it, it could qualify as a trending topic and people could see it as one,” a Facebook spokesperson told Adweek. For now, Trending could be valuable as a source for content or real-time marketing ideas.

5. Rise in video

Here’s a noteworthy change not in the Facebook platform but in how we consume content there. Facebook users are watching way more video lately – a total of 118 million hours of video in January, which is a big jump from 2013′s numbers.

This finding also matches up with a recent study by Edgerank Checker, which found that videos have now become the strongest performer in the Facebook News Feed.

What marketers need to know: This one’s pretty clear. Facebook is prioritizing video these days, and brands that can add engaging videos to their content mix are likely to be rewarded.

6. Ability to reply to reviews

In the department of why-didn’t-they-think-of-that-sooner comes this simple change. Whereas Facebook Page administrators could not previously comment on reviews of their services, now they can!

reply to reviews

Now when Facebook users review and rate pages using Facebook’s five-star ratings system, page admins can jump into the conversation – positive or negative.

What marketers need to know: Facebook has provided brands with another venue to engage with fans and wow with great customer service. Time to get responding!

7. Preferred method of sharing links

A Facebook algorithm change late in 2013 threw lots of marketers for a loop. We’ve written before about some smart ways to overcome the change, and Facebook also recently weighed in with its own official word on getting your brand update seen by more of your audience.

In the post, Chris Turitzin explains that Facebook prioritizes “link-shares,” like the one below:



As compared to sharing links by embedding them in a status update, like this:



“We’ve found that, as compared to sharing links by embedding in status updates, these posts get more engagement (more likes, comments, shares and clicks) and they provide a more visual and compelling experience for people seeing them in their feeds,” Turitzin said.

What marketers need to know: It’s rare that Facebook comes right out and tells you how to get the best performance for your content. When they do, it’s worth paying attention. Continue to test your posts to see what works best for you, but keep Facebook’s official advice in mind.

8. Changes to Power Editor

If your brand does any Facebook advertising, you’ll want to be aware of the most recent changes to Facebook’s Power Editor for ads.

Changes include:

  • New filters to more easily find campaigns and ads
  • Redesigned Power Editor table
  • Updated image-repositioning too
  • Added custom range selection

AllFacebook has a complete rundown.

What marketers need to know: Advertising on Facebook is one way to counteract lower reach caused by Facebook’s recent algorithm update, and now it’s easier than ever to get started.

9. New gender options

Finally, a change that’s about identity and inclusion. Facebook collaborated with a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations to offer a new, extensive list of gender options that make the site more friendly to people who don’t identify strictly as male or female.

Here’s Facebook’s announcement about the change:


What marketers need to know: There’s really no direct change for most marketers here. But understanding your audience always helps us connect better. For those interested in learning more about gender identity, here’s a brief rundown of the each of the new gender options and what they mean.

Have you noticed any other Facebook changes so far in 2014 or changed your marketing as a result of any of these changes? Let me know in the comments!

Top Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

  • http://www.chabuku.com ChaBuku

    Great post on the changes for Facebook! I think the changes are somewhat improved for end users, and marketers shouldn’t have a problem adapting to some of this new stuff. I’ve noticed my feeds are way more relevant since the change.

    • Courtney Seiter

      I do find myself clicking on a lot more links, which makes sense since Facebook is prioritizing publishers’ content more these days. Glad your feed is looking good!

  • Gloria Marsh

    Great Info About Facebook Changes! Thanks For The Updated Info! Keep Up The Good Work!

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, happy to help! Facebook’s always changing something :)

  • Dan Lawrence

    Great info thanks Courtney ! Tad confused by 7 link sharing rathr than link embedding. What do we do to make sure we are sharing ra her than embedding. Probably obvious but I’m still under bit of anaesthetic after an op :)

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hi Dan! Yikes, hope you’re feeling better soon! The main difference between the two formats is allowing Facebook to pull in the information it can find out about a post. So if you share a URL and see the photo thumbnail, headline, meta description and all the jazz, you’re doing a link share. If you delete all that and you just see a text update with a shortened URL, that’s a status update share. Does that make sense at all?

      • Amanda Caldwell

        So when you paste the link manually in a status post, Facebook goes away and finds the photo thumbnail etc. I then delete the link, and keep the prettified thumbnail etc. Is that what you mean, and is that the link sharing process you describe?

        • Courtney Seiter

          Yup, you’re doing a “link share”! As long as you see the prettified thumbnail you can delete the link you pasted in. When your update posts just as text, no headline or thumbnail or anything–that’s when you’re doing the other type share.

          • Amanda Caldwell

            ok, thanks. It’s really useful intel, to know that that’s a preferred method of sharing. Great post!

          • Courtney Seiter

            Thanks! That’s the most confusing bit in the post, so hopefully this discussion will help other folks, too. Thanks so much for bringing it up!

          • LLLShutterbug

            I find an inconsistency in the format of the link share on my FB page. There are times when the photo displays as a mini version of the full photo and there are other times when it displays a thumbnail view of the photo. I don’t notice a difference in the way I share links, so I’m wondering why I have inconsistencies in how the link share is displayed. I think I would prefer to have the mini view instead of the thumbnail view, but I can’t really tell if there is a difference in engagement because its so random.

          • Courtney Seiter

            I think Facebook tests and changes fairly often, so that might account for the differences you’re seeing. Also, if your photos differ at all in size from one to the next, it could make a difference in how Facebook pulls them in. The going evidence is that the larger the photo, the higher the engagement on it–but of course your own data is best!

      • http://jeffsingerphotography.com/ Jeff Singer

        After reading this I went back to my Facebook page for my business and noticed that all my posts coming from Buffer were NOT link shares. Shouldn’t Buffer be following the advice here and posting links as link shares?

        • Courtney Seiter

          Great point, Jeff! In our testing we find that images work really well too, so you’ll probably see a mix of “link shares” and “photo shares.” I really wanted to emphasize in the post that you should listen to Facebook’s advice but also continue to test your own data. Maybe I should go back and make that wording a little clearer; thanks for the nudge!

      • David French

        I find that when I add items to the buffer queue, I need to do it twice. The first time for Twitter, with just the link text, and then do it again for FB, LinkedIn, etc. That way it pulls the link in and shares it.

      • Dan Lawrence

        Ok thanks Courtney, so what does Buffer do as default and if not link share can you make it do so in the future ? Generally though i copy and paste the snippet generated by Buffer and then paste directly into FB since i understand that some social media labs found that automated posts to FB have massively reduced reach compared to direct posts. If i do this is that a link share or an embed share ? Many Thanks
        Dan

        • Courtney Seiter

          Buffer will do a link share as a default, so you should be all set there! :)

          • Dan Lawrence

            Great thanks Courtney :) !!

      • Jennifer Halligan

        In my own experience I’m finding that link shares have less reach than if I just embed the link, or better, put the link in the comments. So I find this confusing. I’ll start link sharing again to see if this has changed (since January) and continue to mix it up. Great article, thanks for sharing!

  • PetePrestipino

    Those video numbers are wack – videos in my FB feed have playautomatically (er, automagically) when I mouse over them.

    • Courtney Seiter

      That’s a great point – I’m not sure if the study is counting autoplay video in its stats, but I do find that I get drawn into videos more often now because of the autoplay.

  • Becky

    Courtney, this is some great juice! Thanks for all of the tips.

    • Courtney Seiter

      You’re very welcome!

  • http://facebook.com/salvatorefiteni Salvatore

    Thanks Courtney! Great post :) I can see the benefit of link-sharing vs. embedding a link into a status update, however, what about the third option of embedding the link into a post with an image? In the past I’ve seen better performance with image posts than link-shares, so I’ve favored sharing an appropriate image with a link to the blog the post is promoting. I’m really not sure what is better anymore. What do you think?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Great question! Although Facebook has said they’re downplaying “meme” type images in the algorithm, I think useful images can still be successful for brands. If your data is bearing that out, I say go for it! We tend to alternate link shares and image shares ourselves.

      • http://facebook.com/salvatorefiteni Salvatore

        Thanks for responding! I am going to do some experimenting :)

  • Akash Agarwal

    This is really great information. We really need to know about the facebook changes. Thanks a lot for helping us in this way.

  • BigcomDevloper

    Nice post Courtney !! Other studies have looked at aspects of Facebook use and the results have been less encouraging. Facebook has become such a part of our lives that it tweaks our emotions, for better or worse.

    • Courtney Seiter

      You’re definitely correct there!

  • http://magentoexpert.info Magento Expert

    Nice post Courtney!! Posts on Facebook with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-through than text-based posts, We’ll be using more graphic software to turn our written content into visual content to make it more shareable on social media.

    • Courtney Seiter

      There are a lot of great tools for that; good luck!

      • Ginelle Bell

        Can you give some examples of those text-visual converting softwares?

  • Felix Brown

    Really love the tips you include around what to include in your social media policy. In fact, I’m going to ask my team to adopt them. Thanks for the smart post!

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