Analysing how Facebook changes will affect charities

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Joe Freeman of Breast Cancer Now looks at the main changes announced by the social media giant

19th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

If you’ve not seen it yet, Facebook has announced changes to how page content will appear in people’s newsfeeds. This is hardly unexpected, and there has been talk of changes for a while (like trials around moving page content into an explore tab).

What is new is that they’ve confirmed what’s happening and what pages can do to try and ensure that their content is still served up.

This is what Mark Zuckerberg had to say…

Before highlighting some of the main points and initial thoughts around what people can do to counter all this, it’s worth noting that whilst people complain about decreased reach and Facebook now being a pay to play platform — you still need a solid content strategy that maximises your organic content based on your audience’s interests, mixed with the types of content people engage with. Then with a paid strategy added into the mix, you can still win and ensure Facebook plays a key part in your digital strategy. Marie Curie, I think, are doing all this particularly well and are definitely ones to watch.

So what are the main points from Facebook’s new announcement? For me, there are three:

“As we make these updates, pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from page to page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Joe Freeman

Joe Freeman

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in news feed.”

“Page posts will still appear in news feed, though there may be fewer of them.”

We all know comments play a role in determining the success of content, but now we need to consider how we can encourage people to converse with each other and their own friends to ensure content is more successful.

The importance of community management

This for me brings into play a greater need for more traditional community management. If you’ve got a separate online community, you should absolutely be looking to see how you can learn from that to start driving more conversations on Facebook posts. Sue Ryder have an excellently managed online community and I believe organisations who have mastered this type of online engagement and offer these services might be better placed than others to minimise any impact, if skills and tactics are shared.

The trend of people just tagging their friends in posts will become more important. These do generate conversations — something we’ve seen a lot more of recently in fundraising acquisition ads we’ve been running on Facebook. Encouraging this — without asking people to tag or share content, because that seems to demote content — will be important, as will sensibly joining those conversations to stimulate more discussion.

The other interesting thing of note is that in their blog, Facebook specifically makes mention of live video, talking around how it “drives six times more interactions than regular video”.

Go live

If you’ve not yet played with Live Facebook video, now’s the time to dive in. It’s clear to me that the fact they’ve singled this out is obviously to encourage more of it, but also gives more of a sign of where they’re going with pages as a whole.

I got a new TV recently, and there’s a pre-installed Facebook Video app on it. This is probably where a lot of Facebook’s big plans are at the moment as smart TV adoption increases over coming months and years. Pages need to be part of that, and these changes start to drive that change.

But back to live video — my suggestion is that you start planning how you can do this now. What’s coming up this year that you can do Live, and how can you feasibly add it into your content planning?

Test and learn

Monitoring the impact these changes have on your page will be really important over the coming months. Keeping an eye on everything from reach, engagement rates and traffic driving will be vital so you know how you need to adapt.

And as always, it’s worth testing a few things out to see what works for you, and learn from others doing great things on Facebook too.

Oh, and remembering that if you’ve got a really sound content and social media strategy, that’s sharing relevant, timely content with your audiences, you’ll are always going to be in the best position and any changes will have less of an impact.

Joe Freeman is assistant director of digital engagement at Breast Cancer Now. Joe’s original blog appeared on