Facebook has again tweaked its news feed algorithm and, like always, its impact on brands is widely being discussed amongst digital marketers. But this also raises a pertinent concern as to the changes the social media manager needs to bring to his style of functioning to ensure that the brand's posts continue to get traction.
Working of a Social Media Manager 1.0
• Understands the brand and decides the key brand message.
• Cracks the content strategy/pillars. Creates a weekly/monthly/quarterly content plan. Gets the approval of brand manager.
• Creates and schedules posts.
The missing link
Most social media managers primarily focus on building content and spend relatively less time in analysing the ever-changing Facebook news feed algorithm that decides the success or failure of the posts. As a result, many a time, the posts do not get substantial reach and engagement.
Facebook's new algorithm
Till now, Facebook distributed or bumped up the post/story on a user's news feed based on its relevancy for the user, affinity of the user with the Facebook page and recency of the post, irrespective of the fact, whether the post's content was fresh/current or not. It implied that a social media manager needed to focus on creating interesting content, which gets traction, even after it becomes dated. However, with the change in Facebook's news feed algorithm, social media managers also need to change the way they operate.
On September 18, Facebook announced (through a blog post) that it would consider two new factors - 'Trending topics' and 'Timeliness' - to determine if a story/post is more important in the moment than other types of updates.
Facebook employees mentioned in the blog post, "When a friend or Page you are connected to posts about something that is currently a hot topic of conversation on Facebook, that post is more likely to appear higher up in News Feed, so you can see it sooner." They added, "If people are engaging with the post right after it is posted, and not as much a few hours later, this suggests that the post was most interesting at the time it was posted, but potentially less interesting at a later date. Based on this signal it is more likely to appear higher in News Feed earlier on and lower at a later date."
Working of a Social Media Manager 2.0
Social media manager 2.0 now needs to act like a 'journalist' and behave like a 'data analyst' to crack the new Facebook challenge.
Social media journalist: Both factors 'Trending topics' and 'Timeliness' indicate that from now onwards a social media manager also needs to keep a tab on the topical issues/conversations on Facebook (on a daily basis) and create/post content on real-time basis, along with the regular scheduled posts.
Social media data analyst: Compared to earlier scenarios - where most managers would not analyse the posts' performance on real-time basis - social media managers will need to do that and tweak their content strategy whenever needed.
To begin with, this may require manual tracking (of posts) as Facebook Insights and leading third-party social media analysis tools do not provide analysis of interactions of a Facebook post on hourly basis.
This also calls for a change in the role of brand managers. Till now, a typical brand manager approves the content for his Facebook page on weekly/monthly basis. Now going forward, he has to approve the content on the fly.
The author is Planning Director (Digital) at OgilvyOne Worldwide and author of 'The Curious Digital Marketer' book series.