Boston and Maine Connection – Do me a favor, Facebook.
If you are reading this article, do me and yourself a favor and share it with 26 friends. Quickly. Please. I want to make myself feel better that my voice is heard. I know that some 60,000 views per month are possible – that’s what my publisher tells me. I want this to go viral. I want to trick Facebook’s algorithm into promoting me, me, me…
“If you are reading this message leave me a quick comment, a “hello”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my news feed! Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and I don’t need Facebook to choose my friends!”
This story line in various forms has been circulating around Facebook since the first of the year when Facebook announced changes to its algorithm and individuals, brands and their social media guru’s scrambled to make sense of what that meant. As a student of marketing and communications, I can tell you that it really doesn’t mean a whole lot – to anyone. Google reportedly changes its search algorithm more than 600 times a year. That is more than once a day, and there have been some ten major updates in the past couple of years. I think it unlikely that they or any social media platform wants any of us to figure it out when we are the product being sold.
Take a minute and think about this. In the old days newspapers put the best headlines “above the fold” to catch your attention. TV news had lead off stories with “more details to follow at 7pm” when everyone tuned in to one of the big three network stations. Well today, the big three are Google, Facebook, and (name your own third favorite platform here). If the platform is free for you to use, then you are the product being sold. That is, the information about your likes, dislikes and shares are incredibly rich data to be parsed and used as bait for someone to pay to reach you.
But nearly everyone is on Facebook. That’s right. Facebook has 2.19 Billion monthly active users. You can find that out by just asking Google which by the way has a mere 40,000 search queries per second equating to 3.5 Billion searches per day “of all the world’s knowledge.” So if you are one of those people who think if I follow you on Facebook I will see your post, think again. The system does indeed choose which people might be exposed to your post but that is not the same as seeing it. Do you have a Facebook business page or Linked-In Profile? You can spend a lot of time and effort to grow the ‘likes’ and follows for your business or cause. But, you are still very much at the mercy of those pesky and ever changing algorithms.
I was at a meeting last month where several people were complaining that they had never gotten notice of previous sessions where the community was invited to voice their opinions. One of the organizers took offense and defended the openness and availability for input by stating “but we posted the event on Facebook.” What a sad commentary on expectations vs. communications. Facebook defines active users as “being online at least once a month.” Some folks are there nine or more times a day and just snickered when they read the previous sentence. But, remember, there are four generations actively pursuing information daily- each in their own way. While much information is pushed to us via our hand held phone like tools, there are still many who respond to tactile experiences.
Here are some useful thought starters for staying in touch in a better more assured way:
- If you want to choose what friends you want to hear from – reach out and search for them by name and Tag or Comment on something they’ve posted. You are more likely to connect than if you passively respond only to feeds that are, well, fed to you.
- If you need fast results – pick up the phone. Those telemarketers and robo-callers do. But today, we can recognize a call from a known vs. unknown party. And yes, if you both have smartphones – by all means text message each other. Fast. Direct and still somewhat secure unless you’ve given your cell phone number out beyond your close friends and family connections.
- If you have a brand or business – think WEBSITE & EMAIL – your own!! But also think about your messaging and where your customers are. Reach them on social media but bring them back to properties that you fully control – like your own website, email lists and video channel. You want control over content- where it is and how it is presented. Don’t just take the easy path of Facebook live.
- Use a combination of print and digital communications
- Build your own email list– it is still the most effective and direct means of communication even if it is considered by many to be too slow
- Even slower but more deliberate – the US Mail is required by law to deliver to the addressee. Use it to stand out.
- When you go online – be sure to encourage your new friends to seek you out or permission you to reach them outside of the social media platform that has already changed how you access them in the time it took you to read this article.
Want more specific guidance? Call, write or email me about any of this via your favorite communication tool and just ask.