Sometimes I feel like it's nearly impossible to keep up with Facebook updates! It honestly seems like every week there is something else being launched, released, updated, upgraded, hidden, removed, renamed, or relocated. You're with me on this, right?! 😉
So, rather than try to write an individual blog post about each change (besides, there are enough other people writing all of these blog posts and repeating the same things), I'm going to round up all the latest changes for you here. And I'll give you links to the best articles I've found detailing those updates so you have the best information at hand!
Algorithm Change to Look at How Long You Look at Stories
I'll be the first to admit that it's about freakin' time Facebook did this! Why they haven't been doing this before, is honestly beyond me.
But anyways, now the Facebook algorithm will take into account when you stop scrolling to read certain posts and how long you stay lingering on those posts in your news feed. They can (rightfully) assume that the longer you linger on (ie. read) that post, the more likely you are to want to see more of this type of content.
So, for example, if you tend to stop and read posts from your cousin or high school friends, but don't actually click or engage, Facebook will assume you want to see more of these stories. Can I say, duh?
Of course, this will also benefit marketers. If your audience is pausing to read your posts, but not actually clicking on the post or otherwise engaging, that doesn't mean they don't want to see it. In fact, you might be crafting the perfect content for them! You just don't know it because they aren't engaging on it. But now, if Facebook determines these fans actually want to see this content, go figure, they'll see more of it! Yay for more reach! Ok, well we can hope so at least.
Algorithm to Balance Posts from Friends, Family, Businesses, Etc.
Of course, this "balance" is going to depend on users and their behaviors on Facebook. This algorithm change was three fold and has been in place for a little while now. I have to admit, that I have noticed a few of the things mentioned, and that's been positive for me as a user.
Essentially, the changes included relaxing the rule on seeing multiple posts from one source (yay!), content you engage with most will appear higher in the news feed (whether from businesses or friends), and the annoying "so-and-so commented on" style updates will get less priority (yay again!).
These changes can impact you as a business - for better or worse depending on how your content is received by your audience. If you get good engagement, this should increase with these changes. If you struggle with engagement, chances are that could decrease further with these changes. This is why it is so important to know what your audience wants and to craft the best content possible.
You can read more about these changes in this post.
Promote Calls-to-Action in Ads
If you use Facebook ads regularly, you might have already noticed this. Whether or not you have though, this is a great new feature within Facebook ads to really promote a specific call-to-action.
Whether you want someone to "sign up" or "watch video" or "shop now" or other available calls-to-action, you can now place this CTA button in your Facebook ad to increase clicks and engagement on the action you want people to complete. I don't think I need to explain how and why this can be so valuable!
This post has some really good instructions and screenshots on setting up these CTA buttons for your ads.
Call a Company Directly From Facebook Ads
Taking the whole call-to-action in ads one step further, Facebook introduced the ability to actually call a company directly from within an ad on Facebook. I know, that's pretty cool!
Think about this especially for local businesses or consultants or event coordinators or a slew of other businesses. Rather than listing out the phone number and details for how to call for more information, or to book a reservation, or to talk to a human being in general, you can simply put a "Call Now" button right there in the ad. Boom. The phone number pops up, you click on it (from your mobile device) and you're connected via a phone call. So simple. So effective.
You can see how this works and learn a bit more from this post.
Carousel Ads are Available to Ad Managers
If you've seen carousel ads on Instagram, you are already pretty familiar with these scrolling, multi-image ads. These are a great way to provide more value, more context, and more direction to your Facebook audience through the ad platform.
You can choose between 3 and 5 images per ad and they will scroll from left to right to showcase a different image. Of course, there are multiple ways to configure these images. Think one long panoramic broken up into multiple square images. Or separate images that show the evolution of a story. Or separate images that provide different information for one theme or product.
And the nice thing, is that you can put a different destination URL on each image. So you can lead people to multiple pages on your website depending on the context of that image in the series and the action you want them to take. For example, at the Facebook Boost Your Business event, they used this example of a cookie dough company: The first photo is the raw ingredients which links to a website page with the nutritional information and ingredients in the cookie dough. The second image is of baked cookies linking to a website page with baking instructions and tips. The third image is of a store front linking to a website page detailing where you can buy the cookie dough.
Featured Videos for Pages
To be fair, this isn't exactly a "new" update - it came out around the new year. But I don't think many people know about it. And, with the increasing prominence of video functionality on Facebook, I think it's worth bringing up here.
Anyways, you can put a "Featured Video" on your Facebook page that will display prominently in your About section to visitors who come to your page. It makes it easy to convey a message clearly and tap into the value and personality of your brand quickly.
This post has some great instructions and screenshots on how to set up this feature.
Testing Saved Replies for Messages for Page Managers
This is something that is apparently only in a test phase and hasn't been rolled out yet to most page managers. However, the thought of this obviously has implications for many page managers.
Essentially, when using the Messages function on your Facebook page, you would have the option to use pre-formatted or create your own "canned responses" to respond to customer messages. Think of the need for this with customer service issues, frequently asked questions, product tutorials, help answers, etc. So many of use canned responses in emails and other methods of communication so it seems only fitting that Facebook would figure this out and roll this out to us!
Here's some insight on how the tool is currently being tested.
This is a lot, but definitely not all the updates from Facebook. However, I think this should give you a good overview of some of the changes that will affect you most and help you best strategize your Facebook plan for success!