For a while, Twitter has been the place where people flock to catch breaking news stories and hold conversations around TV shows and sporting events in real time. Now, with Facebook’s latest News Feed update, it looks like the social media giant is tackling Twitter in its own backyard. But how will it affect your social media strategy and social lead generation?
Facebook announced on Thursday that it has been testing, and is due to launch, an algorithm change that seeks to bring new and timely posts to the forefront of user’s News Feeds. Although Facebook may be a little late to the party in the real time engagement space, it still has some beneficial implications and opportunities for businesses small and large due to the sheer number of users on the network.
Traditionally, Facebook optimizes News Feeds in accordance to what’s grown in popularity since you were last there. So, if you check Facebook on Monday morning, and one of your friends posts something on Monday afternoon that gets a lot of likes, you might see that post at the top of your News Feed when you log back in on Tuesday night. That’s all well and good generally speaking, but these days, users crave freshness and news. Things move so quickly that yesterday’s headlines are today’s toilet paper, especially around areas like TV, sports or events where timing and in-the-moment comments and interactions are key.
To address this, Facebook’s latest update seeks to prioritize timely content in two ways:
1. Through "factoring in trending topics”: Facebook introduced ‘Trending’ in January to highlight popular topics being discussed across the world on Facebook. It now plans to expand on this by showing your friend’s posts on these trending topics in your News Feed.
Whether this will begin to base trending topics around your peer group or friends, or on timely posts related to your interests and page likes, or whether it keeps the focus more on general national or international trending topics remains to be seen.
2. The speed at which people like and comment: If people like and comment on something as soon as it’s posted, and then the engagement tails off, Facebook will treat this as a timely post and prioritize similar ones in user’s News Feeds. Although, again, whether this will work on a local, national or international scale is as yet unknown.
Facebook claim that, through its early testing, these more timely posts generate a 6% higher engagement rate. (FYI: Facebook classes ‘engagement' as the number of users sharing, commenting, liking or clicking on a post.)
What This Means For Your Social Media Strategy
For businesses big and small, these changes present opportunities for those that can react quickly to change. Slightly bigger changes will be required for many companies, so that those who manage social media are given:
• Flexible working hours,
• Decision making authority,
• Absolute trust,
All this is needed in order to keep your finger on the pulse of the global conversation and take advantage of real-time participation.
There’s even an opportunity for Facebook to extend this timely prioritization into the advertising realm. For example, Facebook could potentially offer a real-time advertising service that allows brands to pay to be put in front of their target customers during, say, an episode of House or the Superbowl.
The Right Time
Marketing is an amalgamation of lots of things, and one of the most important elements of marketing is 'getting the right message to the right people at the right time’. However, when your customers are global and they don’t switch off, that time is now, and Facebook may have just given you a window of opportunity, so open your curtains.