You may have heard that recently Facebook changed its algorithms (yet again) to favour conversations amongst friends. On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the focus will be
“…to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”
That’s great after all many of us use Facebook exactly for that reason – to be able to stay connected with friends and family. However, what this means, practically-speaking, is that items that generate conversation will be preferentially boosted in your Facebook feed, while items that were merely “liked” or “shared” become less important.
I personally have already noticed a decrease in the number of funny jokes or memes showing up in my feed – which is (was) my favourite part of Facebook. So those items that may not be generating conversation per se don’t show up. I cannot speak for you, but I “like” a lot of posts when I don’t necessarily have anything to say – or if it’s a topic that I need to think about before I can put my thoughts down into words. Just because I don’t comment on them right away doesn’t mean that I’m not weighing the information and starting a conversation later.
By slowly removing those kinds of posts from my Facebook feed, I fear that I’m going to lose the serendipitous exposure to jokes or world events that aren’t already being talked about by my circle of friends. I think this extra-tailored feed will result in even more echo-chambering and insularity of perspective.
So what can we do to game the system around these algorithm changes? Some suggestions for how a university or business can try to increase their exposure has cropped up from a number of sources. But many of them are also applicable to how each of us personally can try to keep serendipitous news and a larger world-view showing up in our feeds;
- ask your audience to reminisce or reflect on your favourite experiences
- take part in trending topics – the recent snowmageddon here in Victoria is a prime example ☃️
- ask your followers to share their photos/videos
- ask for suggestions to name something (though beware you could have a Boaty McBoatface on your hands)
- step up your Facebook Live game since the algorithms favour its use
- avoid engagement-bait traps
- ask your Page followers to set their newsfeed preferences to “See [your content] First”
- increase your ad budget since organic reach for businesses will decline
Only time will tell if these suggestions for gaming the Facebook algorithms will actually be effective. But it’s safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg will shake things up once we get comfortable again.