More changes to Facebook newsfeed

On Friday, Facebook announced more changes to the way in which it selects which of a Page’s posts will appear in the newsfeeds of those who’ve ‘liked’ it.

Facebook say the changes are designed to reduce the amount of promotional posts in users’ newsfeeds, and instead encourage pages to produce more engaging content.

These are the two examples of the kinds of status updates which will, from January 2015, see a much reduced organic reach on Facebook:

Example post1

Example post 2

Encouraging quality content in itself is no bad thing – organisations and brands should already be striving to do this.

And while this change is probably not as alarming to public sector pages as to those companies whose main purpose is selling products or services – it should be taken as a wake up call that unless we get more creative about our content, nobody is going to see it!

Clearly, Facebook is much more focused these days on encouraging companies to turn to paid advertising and promoted posts. But in the public sector where budgets are squeezed, the main focus has to be on organic reach, which is decreasing all the time.

We hear a lot about PR being the new ‘brand journalism’, and this is an excellent reminder of why that must be our focus.

Facebook has given us a fantastic way to build and participate in communities, reach stakeholders directly and develop positive relationships online. Now we need to work harder to make sure that the content we are producing is relevant, interesting, and of value to our audiences.

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WhatsApp? I’d like to report some flytipping please…

Shropshire Council this week announced that they were going to start using WhatsApp as a way of communicating with residents.

Genius.

A brilliantly simple idea that had me thinking – ah, why didn’t we think of that?

Shropshire say they’re going to trial the service for four weeks and see how it goes. What I love is that residents can not only contact ‘the council’ on WhatsApp, they can also contact particular portfolio holders on the council’s Cabinet.

At a time when local authorities need to be thinking very seriously about channel shift, we need to make it as easy as possible for residents to communicate with us. It’s why we started using Facebook, Twitter and all the other social platforms – to be where the people are.

With 17 million users worldwide, lots of them are on WhatsApp.

It’s also a way that people can easily send ‘private’ messages to the council, or to the elected members that represent them, quickly, easily, for free, and without having to broadcast their message to the world via a Facebook comment or Tweet, if that isn’t what you want to do.

Maybe we might even encourage more of the ‘silent majority’ to communicate with us this way?

So, well done Shropshire Council. I’m really excited to hear about how you get on. And I’m sure that, if it works for you, many other councils will be following your lead very soon…

 

Some Twitter nostalgia…

A bit of random Googling the other day and I unearthed this: A blog post which once listed of all UK councils that were on Twitter in early 2009.

It was put together by Liz Azyan and it was at time when being on Twitter was, for a council, something a bit new and wacky. The debate then was all about whether councils should be on Twitter at all, not how they should be using it.

Sadly you can’t see the original list on the page anymore, but I remember it detailed all the councils on Twitter, their handle, and how many followers they had.

I can vividly remember at the time thinking how brilliant this was and how excitedly I scanned the list. And I remember being genuinely gutted that my few month old shiny new council account hadn’t made the list…

No worries, a quick post in the comments and Liz sorted it for me:

My comment

I had a good old chuckle to myself when I read that back. How could we have been overlooked?? After all we had a whole 134 followers!!!

But yes, I was genuinely proud of that number at that time… because we were new, we were cool and the council Twitter account was my brand new baby!

Happy to say we now have more than 7,600 followers… (and it’s still a little bit my baby, even if it is now coming up for six years old!)

Easier content curation?

I can’t scroll through my Twitter timeline these days without seeing links to blog posts promising to show me how to manage social media in “five minutes a day” or some other such incredible time saving feat.

I quite often like to look at these posts, because they’ll usually list some useful tools which help you with social media management, but in my opinion, if you want to do social media properly you are going to have to invest some time and effort!

Like with everything, you’ll get back what you put in. However, it is true that there are some brilliant time-saving tools out there (Hootsuite, IFTTT etc), but I am willing to go on record and say that if you’re only spending five minutes a day managing your social media accounts, you’re probably not doing a particularly effective job!

Tonight, I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts, The Digital Marketing Podcast by Target Internet, and they were talking about the subject of how to streamline your content curation.

Daniel Rowles, one of the podcast presenters, talked about how he is using Feedly alongside Hootsuite to source relevant content and auto schedule it to his social media accounts.

I’m a big fan of Feedly, having moved my feeds over there when Google Reader closed. And I use it a lot for keeping up with all my favourite blogs and, as a natural follow on from this, for my content curation. Currently I do all this manually. I find an article I think is interesting or useful, I open up Hootsuite and I copy and paste across titles, URLs, look for the Twitter handle of the author if possible, compose my tweet, choose my network, schedule my post and then press submit.

Daniel’s suggestion was about signing up to the premium version of Feedly (currently $5 a month – about £3.16), and using their automated ‘post to Hootsuite’ feature. This allows you to send an article of interest to your followers straight to Hootsuite, it automatically shortens the link, suggests text for your tweet (which you can, of course, edit). You then choose which account to post to and press ‘auto schedule’.

I’ve not used auto schedule on Hootsuite before, although I am a big Hootsuite fan and use it for both work and personal accounts to manually schedule content. I was interested to hear that you can choose the maximum number of tweets you want the platform to auto schedule a day (e.g. no more than 8). As you find relevant and interesting content to push out to your audience, you ‘auto schedule’ it, and if you’re finding more than 8 articles a day, Hootsuite will automatically schedule that for the next ‘available’ day.

There are the usual arguments about whether or not too much content curation is making Twitter too ‘noisy’, but personally, people sharing relevant, interesting information that helps me learn and develop is one of the main attractions of Twitter for me – so I’m all for it! But that’s with the strong proviso that I only ever share content which I have read and genuinely found interesting, thought provoking or useful. I would never share for sharing’s sake.

It was interesting to hear that the combination of Feedly putting content straight into Hootsuite and the use of the auto schedule feature had been so useful for Daniel. He also reports that posting regularly (around 8 times a day) had helped him grow his twitter following.

So I’ve decided I might give it a go and see how it works for me. I don’t think I’ll be aiming as high as 8 times a day… maybe more like 3 to start with! And I will make sure I’m not sharing anything I don’t genuinely believe to be a good, engaging, informative read.

No doubt I will report back with my thoughts in a later blog post…