They went and did it again.
Facebook changed their feed last week. The tweak reportedly allows users more control over the things they see in their feed rather than relying on an algorithm to decide for them.
Any change in Facebook’s feed will understandably make libraries nervous. For better or worse, many libraries look to Facebook for free publicity for their programs and services, and as a way to communicate with cardholders. And the parameters of Facebook’s user interface have changed so many times, it’ll make your head spin.
So here’s what I think about this latest pivot.
This might be a good thing for libraries. Our customers are really loyal. Those who are already interacting with your posts will continue to see them, and those who had not fit the algorithm may now see your posts again. If you use any of your advertising budget for Facebook ads (and I think you should), then your paid posts will have more value because Facebook will have more information with which to target your current and potential customers.
But it might be a bad thing for libraries. In my research for this article, I’ve found that it’s actually difficult to figure out how to set up your Facebook feed to show more of the posts you wish to see and less of the ones you don’t. Right now, the option to change your setup is only available on the iOS app and it’s not easy to find. (Click on “More”, then on “News Feed Preferences.”) Once I did find it, I was intrigued by the option of unfollowing all the pages I’m no longer interested in. I left dozens of brands I don’t really care about in the dust. That could be bad for you, especially if your library has not posted compelling stories to your feed or if your posts haven’t been seen by the right people since the last algorithm change.
Does it really matter? Here’s the thing: posting content on Facebook is like building your house on rented land. It doesn’t belong to you and as much as it pains your library system when changes are made, there is little we can do about it. The big lesson is that we need to start relying on our own platforms and websites for promoting our programs and services. That means we should be building our own audience with blogs, podcasts, and other content delivery systems. We should be developing email subscriber lists so we can target and market to our specific library cardholders and give them the content they really want.
Until Facebook rolls the feed settings out across all platforms, I don’t anticipate seeing much of a change in use or engagement on my library’s Facebook page–and you probably won’t either. However, the cross-platform roll-out will happen… and you need to have a plan for how to handle a drop in engagement or reach with your posts.
There is one thing you can do: Periodically remind your cardholders to set up notifications for your posts (under the drop-down menu next to the like button) so that each time you post, they’ll get a reminder. And then follow the Facebook best practices, posting 3-4 times a day with useful, helpful information and engaging content.
Do you have any Facebook tips to share with your fellow library marketers? Tell us about them in the comments!
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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.