What’s New in Your Newsfeed? The Latest Updates on Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram have come a long way since the wall-to-walls and obsessive hashtagging of the earlier days. The look and feel of each has gradually evolved, but when compared to what they began with and where they are now, it’s like night and day. As each social media platform has changed, businesses have had to be stay on their toes in order to take advantage of the paid and organic marketing opportunities on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook had their F8 Conference last month, so now is as good a time as any to check in on what new challenges and opportunities lie ahead in the world of social media marketing. To serve as a guide, I’ve compiled some of the top updates that have been made to Facebook and Instagram in 2018 so far, as well as a few that are in the works.
Facebook’s been doing some damage control lately, what with the propagation of fake news during the 2016 election and their breach of consumer privacy by sharing data with Cambridge Analytica. Brand crises like these are when a business has to lean on their core values, and following this advice, Mark Zuckerberg seems to have been relying on Facebook’s history of connecting people. That tenet is even more highlighted through Facebook’s updates.
Zuckerberg stated that he now wants Facebook to focus on facilitating and inspiring more meaningful interactions, which, although good for consumers, can alter how businesses should think about marketing on the platform. Below are some of the biggest changes that you should be thinking about when forming a social media marketing strategy:
In accordance with Zuckerberg’s desire to encourage meaningful conversations among users, Facebook’s new algorithm pushes content from brands, business, and media further down in the newsfeed in favor of content from the user’s friends. This might seem discouraging at first if you’re working in marketing, but fear not! There are things that you can do to take advantage of the algorithm.
First off, it’s important to know the hierarchy of active interaction signals, which is as follows:
- Comments – Posts that generate a lot of (meaningful) comments will be shown higher up in the newsfeed than posts that don’t. To incite commentary, post content that people are sure to have an opinion on. Tactics like including questions, relevant topics, videos and visual content, and personal stories will all bump your page up a notch.
- Shares – Whether it’s a public share on their timeline or a private share over messenger, the more users that share your content, the higher it gets in other users’ newsfeeds.
- Reactions – Facebook’s not just about likes anymore. There’s a range of emotions that users can express, from anger to surprise to love, and by clicking one of those rather than just the “like” button, they’re moving your content up on the newsfeed. Since Facebook wants to see more “active” emotions than just a “like”, it now prioritizes posts that garner those more expressive reactions.
I logged on to my Facebook profile after reading about the algorithm change to see what kind of posts made it to the top, and this video was the first to come up:
Factors that contributed to its success:
- It’s visual – As mentioned before, visuals typically get more engagement than your run-of-the-mill status update, and videos get even more engagement than photos.
- It’s adorable – Dogs + babies = popular videos. By knowing what its audience is interested in, Dodo can make a solid prediction that the post will get some decent engagement.
- But it also tells a story – Rather than just being an average video of a dog and a baby, the video paints a picture by sharing their relationship over time, creating a narrative that dog-lovers everywhere can relate to.
Overall, it seemed like the algorithm has been the most substantial update to Facebook in 2018, but there are other changes that are still notable.
Facebook Live – Crossposting
The addition of Live Crossposting means that multiple Pages can publish the same Live Video at the same time, so you no longer have to repost the live video to your other pages once it’s done. Since live videos get six times more engagement than curated ones, this update allows for a bigger potential audience.
New metrics for Page admins
When gauging a video’s success, page administrators can now view more insightful metrics than ever before. The newest updates include:
- Followers vs. non-followers – breakdown of audience retention by people who follow your page vs. people who don’t follow your page
- Audience demographics – breakdown of audience retention by gender
- Zoom chart – can zoom into the chart to get a closer look at the data and have greater clarity into the key moments of the video
Messenger is living on its own
Rather than being blended into the Facebook app, Messenger is now a standalone platform that users can sign up for without having to have a Facebook account. In addition, users can also have free video calls through Messenger, making it a free alternative to Skype.
Facebook isn’t the only platform that’s been changing, as I’m sure you know. Below are the latest updates to the other Facebook-owned app, which just so happens to be my personal favorite.
While Facebook’s changes have added a hurdle for marketing teams, Instagram’s updates have made business pages better than ever.
Story mentions can bog down a business’s inbox, but with Instagram’s new simplified inbox, messages are now sent to the Direct Inbox instead of the Pending Inbox. The business can now star and filter what messages they want to follow up on when they don’t have enough time to answer them in the moment, which gives the business more control over the process.
In addition, in the upcoming weeks, Instagram will be testing a new feature that allows you to reply to common messages with a quick, standard reply that will save your team time. So if you’re constantly copy / pasting the same answers to the same messages that keep popping up, this feature is definitely something you want to look out for.
Four new Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons
This update is a bigger deal to businesses in the service and hospitality industries – Instagram is implementing four new CTA buttons on business pages: Reserve, Get Tickets, Start Order, and Book. These buttons make the ordering process more frictionless and cuts out the extra step of bringing the user to the business’s homepage if all they’re looking for is one particular service.
Sliding emoji scale
As a consumer, I thought the sliding emoji scale made polls on Instagram Stories more fun, but as a marketer, I saw the potential for being able to get more valuable insights from the page’s followers. Rather than just a “Yes” or “No” on the standard Instagram poll, the user can indicate where they fall on the scale, and the page can see the responses in real-time.
Existing Instagram posts can be turned into ads
Rather than curating a post that’s specifically for an ad, you can turn existing Instagram posts into sponsored posts. The best part? The likes and comments that you get on the sponsored post will also show up and accumulate in the original organic post.
New Instagram Explore page
I’m personally very excited about this next one – the Instagram Explore page is getting a reboot that allows you to choose the channels that show up instead of having Instagram show you what you’re most likely to engage with. For instance, if you’re someone whose explore page isn’t inundated with pictures of puppies and food (like me), but you want it to be, you can follow “Puppies” and “Food” channels in the new homepage and voila. This was made possible through augmented AI (artificial intelligence), and creates an easy-to-use experience. It’ll be interesting to see if this boosts engagement for business pages since it exposes your content to people who are sure to be interested in it.
As with Facebook, Instagram is also getting a bit of an algorithm change. Back in 2016, Instagram changed their feed to be based on an algorithm instead of being chronological. This decision to the chagrin of marketers everywhere, as the algorithm pushed business pages further down in the feed than personal pages. And their worry wasn’t unfounded – in some cases, business pages saw as much as a 33% decline in engagement.
However, Instagram is altering the algorithm so that it gives more weight to how recently something is posted so that very old content from personal pages doesn’t constantly show up over fresh content from businesses. The important takeaway from this is that businesses should keep in mind what time they’re posting to the app in order to post when their target audience is most likely to be scrolling.
Can now follow hashtags
Now, brands are able to monitor their hashtags to review user-generated content, as well as to see how competitors’ hashtags are doing. By being able to see what hashtags generate the most interest and followers, marketers will be able to assess their own and restructure their strategy accordingly.
So I know that was a lot of information all at once, but with dynamic consumer demands and growing competition for their attention, social media has to constantly be evolving to offer the optimal customer experience. Who knows; by the time this blog is published, there might be even more updates that marketers have to be aware of.
Do you have any updates you wish Facebook and Instagram would implement? Any that drive you crazy? We’d love to hear from you below!