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Facebook algorithm: Focus on active users, paid strategy

13 Apr
Organic Reach in Facebook

Many suspect that Facebook is now reducing the relevant organic reach of brands in favor of more relevant paid content.

Summary: Facebook’s algorithm improves the relevant content in a user’s news feed. Most Facebook users are not active, but passive in their news feed and therefore accept the ‘improved’ news feed experience, which includes organic ‘and’ paid content.

Facebook has filtered its news feed with a sorting algorithm known as EdgeRank. This algorithm collects every possible signal to determine the relevance of every post to every user.

Your Facebook news feed is stuffed with tons of content that is then filtered in an attempt to create a user experience of ‘relevant’ posts. Facebook curates this relevance for you with both organic and paid posts. Facebook users, who nearly never adjust or improve their news feed, receive this feed.

Many suspect that Facebook is now reducing the relevant organic reach of brands in favor of more relevant paid content. So if Facebook will not willfully deliver brands into the normal news feed, brands have to find ways of sharing channel content more efficiently with users and/or purchasing paid ads from Facebook.

Focus on active rather than passive users

Active users will still drive to a brand’s Facebook channel directly for customer service, but brands can help active discovery of content through search, hashtags, co-branding, links, etc. It’s impractical to ask passive users to adjust their Facebook settings (Most Recent compared with the default Top Stories) to improve news feed penetration for your brand. Passive users won’t.

There are things that your brand can do organically for active users. These users are attempting to curate and filter their Facebook experience. These are the users that search for your brand and arrive on your Facebook page for regular features, who search for hashtags and keywords, and who scan the Friend Feed – “Paul Morrison likes Dearborn Sausage Company’s photo.”

Engagement from active curators (along with quality content) combined with paid ads is the formula that Facebook claims improves reach.

We will continue to monitor the issue of diminishing organic reach (falling from 45-40 percent to 10-12 percent in early 2014). Our initial strategy was to refine organic efforts to maximize our limited opportunities in the news feed. But it is becoming painfully obvious that brands on Facebook will have to consider a paid strategy, as well.

Subsequent discussion is that the end-game for Facebook is to reduce organic reach to zero and become a full-paid platform (much like a newspaper, and we know how things worked out with that model ;).

Play nice with Facebook’s algorithm

Don’t hold your breath on Facebook detailing all the factors in its son-of-EdgeRank algorithm, but here are a few factors that we know about, how they work and possible organic solutions (things you can do before paying for boost posts and sponsor ads).

  • Affinity factor: When a post receives high engagement (likes, comments, shares), Facebook serves on more news feeds. If many users are interested, then other users are likely interested. Organic Solutions: Improve the quality of useful info and improve engagement.
  • Timing factor: Know when your audience is online, and publish posts at those times. Organic Solutions: Review Facebook Insights and modify posting times in your editorial calendar.
  • Story Bumping factor: Facebook’s EdgeRank is believed to produce ‘Time Decay.’ This means that the older a post got, the less likely it would appear on news feeds. So if a lot of people engaged with your post (Affinity), Facebook might bump it back up the news feed. Organic Solutions: Improve the quality of useful info and improve engagement.
  • Instagram Weight factor: Facebook weights new page features high including sharing of Instagram posts on Facebook (‘regramming’). Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. Organic Solutions: ‘Regram’ content in your Facebook news feed.
  • Last Actor factor: Facebook will survey that past 50 engagements of a user, giving more weight to posts from pages the user has recently interacted with. Organic Solutions: Increase affirmation, comment threads with top users.
  • Links factor: Instead of embedding a links, try adding an image and putting the link in the status update section. Users will interact more with images. This produces a larger image versus the small image that Facebook displays with the embedded link. Organic Solutions: Add image and add link to image status.

Facebook best practices

What’s a brand to do next? Focus on these four things:

  1. Improve the quality of organic posts by understanding Facebook’s algorithm.
  2. Focus engagement efforts on active users rather than passive users.
  3. Prepare a limited paid strategy (Post Boost) and A/B test with organic posts.
  4. Cross promote on other social channels and especially channels that are already linked with Facebook (Instagram).

Kevin Cesarz is the Director of Social Engagement for Thread Marketing Group in Toledo. Ohio.

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Status update: Facebook changes rules, again

1 Apr

Content curator Facebook fan page owners have some work to complete before the end of the month (March 30). Time’s up!

Facebook, the beloved social media channel that blends paid media (advertising) and earned media (conversation on content), is an ad network powered by a deluge of data you donate every day.

Read more in the Toledo Free Press.

Build a better college newspaper website

21 Oct

Nationaal Archief

Here’s a checklist of online adjustments and guidance for a better college newspaper website. Change is difficult for newspapers. There are learning curves and time management issues in making these changes, but muscle up and get these done and get your dying newsprint a suitable online channel.

Content Management

  • BBC headlines: Look to bbc.com for guidance on well done news content and presentation. These are excellent examples to follow of keyword forward, densely descriptive but brief headlines. Print headlines do not transition well to online. Snappy headlines that provide information scent (leading people via searches to information results).
  • Direct me to useful information: Not everything is a news story or an enterprise piece. Create content that summarizes stories and group infographics, photos and video. Guide To, How-To, Complete List, etc. is content that people need, want and search for all the time. Anchor this evergreen content in a prominent place on your website and Facebook tabs.
  • Make sure that your RSS feeds are useful. Find a setting in your website’s content management system that not only provides the RSS feed code but links it to the option to add to RSS readers. I’m probably not going to copy the code leave your site and add it to my reader as it is set up currently. Make it one click.
  • Repurpose signed comments from users in a prominent place on the homepage. Anonymous doesn’t cut it. If someone is willing to sign a descriptive username then reward that user with a Comment of the Week feature (with crosslink to the original story). Crosslinks are key – outbound/inbound.
  • PDFs of complete news product: Great (I guess), for a quick scan of the news product and display, but advertisers expect added value and should have a link from their ad. Help your advertisers out.
  • All stories need images (entry points), calls to action (what do I do next?), and crosslinks and other info. Every URL shared on Twitter or Facebook is an introduction to your product. Why stop there?

Facebook for college newspapers

There is typically little engagement on college news Facebook pages. Readers comments on stories to no response. You will gain no value from social media unless you speak to followers. Engage.

Explain coverage: Demystify the news gathering process. Introduce your writers and editors and explain your operation. Tell your story about how you tell stories. This is a great recruiting tool and an opportunity to share with a wider audience.

Follow other people and fan pages: Try to use the @ symbol in all of your status posts. Put your idea and brand on other Facebook fan pages. The @College_Newspaper learned a lot from reporter @SusanMurphy’s visit to @BigUMedicalCenter and @BigUBusinessSchool. Look for stories in the next issue.

Shout out to your follows on the Facebook wall. Use the toggle as fan page administrator to post as both the admin and your personal profile to the your page’s wall. Note the support, interests of friends this way. @Jason Allen probably wasn’t happy with the result of this weekend’s @BigUFootball game, but we have the details on the upcoming game.

YouTube/LinkedIn for college newspapers

Don’t forget your other channels. Complete all profiles with full description and branding. Your YouTube channel needs custom background and profile, while your LinkedIn channel needs a custom profile image.

Twitter for college newspapers

Build source lists on Twitter. Sync your coverage, contacts and followers into your Twitter stream. Spend a little more time to build a better list of followers. Research keywords and geo references related to your university and rake in all sources connected to your university (and competitors, as well). Reporters can ask questions; propose story ideas and crowd source info. Twitter is a listening tool. Use it as a news gathering tool.

It’s expensive to produce that print product. Begin planning your escape plan immediately. Great usable, timely and authoritative information will never go out of style. Find new packaging.

Sorry Jake: Crowd sourcing on Twitter is zippy

19 Aug
EPA tweet on Twitter

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported this conversation between a farmer and President Obama regarding new EPA directives on dust pollution.

Who needs a production staff when you have plenty of people in your audience to answer questions on Twitter?

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported this conversation between a farmer and President Obama regarding new EPA directives on dust pollution. A helpful Twitterer supplied key detail within an hour.

Mark Hemingway@Heminator – delivered this article with a link to a letter to the EPA signed by 21 senators shortly after the initial tweet by ABC News. Hattip to original sources Ace of Spades and Slublog to highlight this exchange.

Not sure if ABC News appreciates the speed and customization of their news product by tribes of eager news gatherers, but editors on now on notice. Deliver all the details or have others do your job.

Let’s be real here: Google Plus asks for ID

16 Aug

Google Plus has just launched and already a Google crackdown. If you want to connect with Google Plus, the search giant declares it important that you use your common name.

Your common name is the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, any of these would be acceptable.

Unable to complete the Google Plus sign-up flow, or your profile was suspended for a name-related issue? You’ve got some guideline reading to do.

We like Google Plus and its circles. The circles are closer to that way our actual social circles are made up compared to the free-for-all on Facebook. Fantasy footballers stay away from tech networks, and business networks are separate and distinguishable from church and school groups.

Besides Circles here are the other highlights if you haven’t sign up for the Beta of Google Plus yet:

  • Sparks is Google Plus’ topic feed. You add topics that you’re interested in, and Google Plus will notify you when items about those topics arrive.
  • Huddle: Huddle allowing you to talk with a circle all at once.
  • Hangouts: A web-based group video chat which allows you to jump in and out of conversation events at will.

If your profile is suspended for not using a common name, you’ll be shut out of other Google services like Buzz, Reader and Picasa. Don’t like the name policy? Google suggests you make a copy of your Google+ data first and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But we think it’s worth it for the clutter-free conversation.

Essential content includes video

14 Jul
Storytelling video e-book

Essential Content – Video helps explain our passion for content creation and storytelling video.

Ever since Lorrie (MrElshMedia) and I caught a glimpse of our first well-done e-book on David Meerman Scott’s WebInkNow we have been pining for the opportunity to actually produce our own.

Essential Content – Video is anchored on Lorrie’s website to help explain our passion for content creation and storytelling video.

After exiting the news industry (the hard way) in 2009, we began thinking about how much truly mediocre content was out there. Not just poorly written or edited, but lifeless appeals for attention. With so many questions to be answered, how could there be so much chaff en route to the target?

Our vow is to help people tell their story by focusing on:

  • Quick and nimble content: Please get to the point and explain yourself with a lead (one lesson retained from journalism).
  • Useful, usable, and share-able content: Can I help at least one other person answer a question or solve a problem?
  • Unique content: Reference or comment on other content, but mash it, poke it, and add your imprint to make it better.

Let Lorrie and Kevin know how you like it and if you can use it to make better content.

Facebook fan page administrators should be quick on the draw

29 Jun

Facebook fan page administratorsMrElshMedia (Lorrie Cesarz) and I performed this test a few months back on how to transfer administrator control of Facebook fan pages. Fan pages are generally staffed by several administrators to optimize the wall content stream and engagement.

Our Social Media Breakfast Toledo Facebook fan page has six administrators. We all chip in to speak as SMB Toledo – noting ourselves within the status (KC) – or we switch to our personal profile.

What we discovered was that even as the original owner or creator of the fan page, I could delete myself as long as there was another administrator to maintain the page.

But surprise, the backup administrator can also delete other administrators including the original administrator.

So note that you should include others to co-administrate your Facebook fan pages, but be prepared to be quick on the draw to reduce exposure after people leave the organization.

Although it’s not very social thing to do, but has anyone ever been locked out by other administrators from a Facebook fan page?