Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Facebook Changes February 2021, What's A Writer to do with Facebook Now?


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

By now everyone has heard about the most recent changes in Facebook. A lot of you have reached out, asking for advice on how writers should move forward with social media. Here's the most important piece of advice I can give you...


Don't Panic!

I have talked to some authors and writers who have heard about a significant drop in visibility, but I haven't yet spoken to anyone who's seen major issues. This does NOT mean there aren't those who are affected, just that I don't have personal contact with any of them. I'm sure that will change. How an author is affected appears to be directly related to their philosophy about how to use Facebook.

 

Before I give you my opinion about where to go from here, let's back up and make sure we're on the same page about how I view social media in general and Facebook specifically. 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: I use social media as a way to build connections and funnel people to my email subscription list. Your email list must ALWAYS be the primary way you connect with your readers. Social media is critical to help me find new people to connect with, but it is NOT the basis of my platform or the way I primarily engage with those people. For that I have my blog and my email list.

 

An Effective Social Media Strategy for Facebook

I build my Facebook social media on two foundational precepts (and the first is a foundation for every online interaction I have):

  1. I see social media primarily as a ministry and a way to make connections. Although I do some minor advertising, it’s very minimal. I rarely boost posts.
  2. My primary goal for interacting on Facebook is to be valuable to those who read my posts and make certain every post has good engagement.

The Goal of Facebook

Before we can create an effective strategy for Facebook, we have to know what Facebook wants to accomplish. By knowing that, we can work with this platform, instead of against it. 

 

What does Facebook Want? This platform has been fairly open about its goal for those who are on Facebook. They want users to have positive, meaningful interactions on Facebook. 

 

So in a nutshell the algorithm Facebook uses is designed to measure how likely it is that a specific user will have a positive experience with each specific post. Of course there is a complicated and secret equation (the algorithm) used to determine that. 

 

A little history…

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg started talking about making Facebook more meaningful. He outlined a general process that would prioritize posts from family and friends as opposed to businesses. (here’s a link to the entire article https://about.fb.com/news/2018/01/news-feed-fyi-bringing-people-closer-together/). When this came out, many panicked because they thought it meant they’d have less visibility. 

 

BUT, as long as authors and writers made sure they were sharing engaging and meaningful posts, we all saw that visibility didn’t have to diminish. 

 

The 2021 Facebook Algorithm

Facebook has refined the algorithm and is now even more passionate about users seeing posts that matter to them. 

 

So how do we share content that’s meaningful? I’m so glad you asked!

 

There are 4 criteria that Facebook uses to determine the value of a post

  1. Inventory (this is all the posts available to that specific user at that time)
  2. Signals (this is how your post is put together, including open-ended questions, no false news or engagement baiting, as well as the type of content you’re sharing, such as video, image, text, advertising, etc).
  3. Prediction (this is how Facebook believes a specific user will react to the post).
  4. Relevancy score (this is the rank assigned to a specific post and determines where a post will fall in the newsfeed).

Out of these criteria, there is only one we can control. We can control the SIGNALS part of the equation. To make this part of the equation work for us, we must evaluate how to share meaningful content within the context of what Facebook allows.

 

Meaningful Content

  • Here are some of the things I do to create meaningful engagement on Facebook:
  • Share updates that encourage conversations and shares.
  • Know the FACEBOOK rules of engagement and follow them. 
  • Avoid engagement baiting. Engagement baiting is telling those who read your update how to react. Facebook thinks your post should encourage ORGANIC engagement. Here are some examples of engagement baiting:
    • LIKE if you agree (this is reaction baiting).
    • VOTE on whether you like Tolkien or Lewis best? (This is vote baiting)
    • SHARE to win/agree/help… (This is share baiting)
    • COMMENT and let me know what you think. (This is comment baiting)
    • TAG a friend if you think they’d like this. (This is tag baiting)

I also like to include links in the comments portion of an update instead of the post itself. Facebook is prioritizing original sources instead of posts that link to outside sources.

 

What about Facebook Deprioritizing Pages and Groups

Another part of the latest algorithm change is found in the terminology of “Deprioritizing” specifically for Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages.

 

Again, Facebook is interested in its users having a meaningful experience. If you own a group and you engage regularly and meaningfully with your members, you should see very little change. (This is a prediction—it’s based on previous experience—but it’s still a prediction.) It’s more important than ever to educate your group members and page followers to set the notification settings on groups and pages they want to stay connected with.

 

For Group Notifications:

Click the three dots icon below the right corner of the cover image (see screenshot below).



Now click MANAGE NOTIFICATIONS and choose ALL POSTS (see screenshot below).



For Page Notifications:

Click the three dots icon below the right corner of the cover image (see screenshot below).



Now click FOLLOW SETTINGS and choose FAVORITES



Then choose UPDATE (if you don’t choose update, the change won’t take effect). The need to click UPDATE is specific to pages.

 

The Apple IOS Change and How it Affects Facebook

The second part of the changes coming to Facebook are driven by outside forces, initially by Apple, but others like Google are following close behind. 

 

It used to be that Apple allowed Facebook and other apps to see your information as a default. Now it is reversing that and the default keeps your information private and for Facebook to gather outside data on you. It must request permission and you must give it. 

 

This will primarily affect how it gathers information for those wishing to advertise on Facebook. All the information you share with Facebook will still be available, but secondary information will now be limited by who agrees to share that information. 

 

I don’t often advertise on Facebook, so this will have little effect on me right now. 

 

Bottom Line

Two things we need to keep clearly in mind.

 

First, there are always changes coming to social media in general and Facebook specifically. To navigate these sudden shifts, I keep a firm focus on my WHY. Why I am engaging on Facebook in the first place. When I keep my attention firmly on serving those I interact with, I find I can make it through the twists and turns caused by algorithms and other changes. 

 

Second, remember that as believers who write, we know that God is ultimately in control of where our words go and who sees them. There is no power on heaven or earth that can thwart God’s plan. 

 

Now it’s your turn. This is a lot of information to digest in one blog post. Share your questions and comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!

 

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Blessings,
Edie
 

TWEETABLE

Facebook Changes February 2021, What's A Writer to do with Facebook Now? @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.Connect with her on her website, through FacebookTwitter and on Instagram. 

33 comments:

  1. Excellent post. You articulate perfectly. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for this Edie - appreciate your efforts in understanding it & then explaining it to us! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is great—thanks. I went to my settings for this group and I see “Notifications—All Posts” but I don’t see “Follow Settings” anywhere on my page like your show????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, I think you're confusing your terminology. A GROUP and a PAGE are two very different things on Facebook. The Follow Settings are found only on a PAGE, not on a GROUP. If you're still confused, email me: edie@ediemelson.com and I'll be happy to help you. Blessings, E

      Delete
  4. Is posting a meme about a book or release considered an advertisement?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ane, that depends. In my definition of self-promotion, posting anything that will benefit me or asks someone to do something for me falls under self-promotion. So yes, in that case a meme like that would be.

      However, if you just post a meme without a buy link on Facebook, I'm not sure they'd classify it as strictly advertising. But unless you have a way for people to engage with that post, it won't do very well.

      In another scenario, if you post that meme and it's something announcing a book launch or a cover reveal and your connections get excited about it and begin commenting, sharing and liking the post, it will do well because you've got engagement.

      The more important question isn't whether something is advertising, it's whether or not you're going to get good engagement with a post.

      I hope that helps a little. Blessings, E

      Delete
  5. Thanks so much, Edie. I'm trying to understand it - but at my age I think I am a bit behind! Pray for me to catch up!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, the bottom line with Facebook is "What will start a conversation (that's engagement)." If you can post things that make people have a conversation with you, you'll do great! Blessings, E

      Delete
  6. Thank you Edie. This is important information.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, Edie, this is a great recap and the advice about verifying your settings for groups and pages is especially helpful.

    One question. You wrote, "I also like to include links in the comments portion of an update instead of the post itself. Facebook is prioritizing original sources instead of posts that link to outside sources." So when I share one of my blog posts to my FB page it's better to say "link in comments" and paste it there instead of including it in the post? Does that help FB see me as an "original source"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leigh, great question! It's definitely better to put the link in the comments. I usually don't say I'm doing that in the original post. Instead, I immediately write the first comment and say, "To begin the discussion, here's link to my blog post today..." Blessings, E

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Edie, I'll try that!

      Delete
  8. Thank you, Edie. Great information. I will definitely use this and make a few changes to my group page and author page. I do need to refocus my efforts, so the timing is spot on! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty, it sounds like you'll be moving forward in the right way! Blessings, E

      Delete
  9. As always, so thankful for your wisdom and advice. Blessings! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea, thank you and glad I can pass on what I’ve learned! Blessings, E

      Delete
  10. well crafted article, my friend, as always. I appreciate your attention to these issues and value your posts. Keep pressing on! Because of Jesus! Love.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks so much for addressing this, Edie. I value your advice.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excellent advice. I don't think authors put as much emphasis on their email list as they should. Zuckerberg controls who sees our posts, we control who sees our regular emails. Quick question, How often is recommended to send out emails. I send them every two weeks to avoid bombarding my email people.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was excellent. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts and ideas. I'm printing this one out so I can refer to it. I don't advertise anymore - waste of money. I have noticed my numbers drop considerably this month and now I understand why.

    ReplyDelete