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HOW THE NEWFACEBOOK NEWS FEEDAFFECTS YOUR CHURCH
introductionOn March 7, 2013, Facebook announced its first major updateto the news feed since the feature launched seven years ago.The new look will be more visually-focused and based onFacebook‘s research that shows almost 50% of news feedpostings are rich in visual content.What does this mean for how your church or organizationshares content? We‘ll guide you through some of the changesand leave you with takeaways to implement immediately.
a recapOn March 7, 2013, Facebook announced its first major update to the news feedsince the feature‘s launch seven years ago.The new look will be more visually-focused, based on Facebook‘s research thatshows almost 50% of news feed content is visually rich. The less cluttered newsfeed is more organized and will feel very much like a newspaper with feeds you cancustomize.The three biggest updates are: Richer, visually engaging stories, Choice of feeds, and Same look and features on mobile and web platforms.
8 takeaways to align yourstrategy with the new news feedAs we walk you through the highlights of thenew Facebook news feed, it becomes clearthat creating rich media content is one way toassure your posts will be seen and shared.So what are the takeaways for your church?Here are our top eight!
Tip 1: publish [more] visual contentThe new Facebook news feed highlights visualcontent, such as video and photos. Take advantage ofthis opportunity to increase interest and attractiveness.Begin creating more visually compelling content. Thinkabout upcoming posts and story ideas and whatimages, infographics or video could accompany them.
visually engaging stories―Seeing comes before words,‖ says media theorist John Berger (Ways ofSeeing, Penguin Books, 1972). Capitalizing on this, Facebook has madevisuals much larger, allowing more focus on a particular post, as seen inthe screen shot below. What will your church or organization do tomaximize this new feature?
visually engaging storiesIt‘s not only individual multimedia posts that will appear dramaticallylarger. Now, when a user posts content, the cover photo appears muchlarger and wider. Additionally, it displays thumbnails of those who alsolike your page. This makes it vital for your organization‘s cover andprofile photos to communicate who you are. In one glance, what can auser learn about your community just by seeing your cover andprofile images?
visually engaging storiesIn the new Facebook news feed, videos also get a facelift. The screenshotof the video post is, again, much larger. Faces of the people who like yourpage are displayed to the left of or below the video or photo posts. Howwill your organization use all of this new real estate for rich,engaging content? Perhaps you should start thinking aboutincorporating more video posts!
Tip 2: don’t forget to tell themBecause photos and video will now be the primarystorytellers in your posts, you may want to reconsiderthe length of the copy [text]. Sometimes it‘s appropriateto include a major part of the article in the post, alongwith a link to read more. Other times, you may decideto do an overlay of text on the photo instead of postingseveral lines of text.However you decide to execute this, keep in mind thatrich media will be the primary way that people engage.
your feeds, your choiceThe second big change is the ability to choose what feeds of informationyou‘d like to view. Since users follow a variety of people and pages, fromfamily and friends to favorite TV shows, personalities and news outlets, it‘simportant to give users control over what updates they see.
getting seen on news feedsSo how do you get your updates seen on Facebook? It‘s basedon EdgeRank, Facebook‘s news feed algorithm, which includesthese elements: AFFINITY, WEIGHT and TIME DECAY.AFFINITY: the score between the viewer and the edge creator.WEIGHT: how much action and commenting a post receives. Inother words, the more a post gets a ―like,‖ comment or tag, themore weight it receives.TIME DECAY: how long ago content was posted. The longer it‘sbeen up, the less value it has.
rich media = more shares250 million photos are uploaded to Facebookevery day (source: Jeff Bullas). Hub Spot’sresearch team discovered that photos onFacebook pages received 53% more “Likes”than the average post.Want your posts to be shared and liked?Include: text, a link and a photo.
Tip 3: find the evangelistsBecause the new Facebook news feed allows users tochoose to look at content posted only from friends, it‘s wiseto identify and focus on your evangelists — those who helpyou share the stories of your community.If someone likes or follows your page and shares yourcontent, their friends will be able to see. What are yourmost shared posts? How do your fans engage with yourcontent? Continue doing what you‘re doing well and yourevangelists will help spread your stories far and wide.
Tip 4: make it compellingBecause of the way Facebook shares top-featured content, it‘s a good idea to useFacebook to promote your more public-facingcontent, like your blog or website.Common elements found in viral media includehumor, trending topics, provocative content,surprise and irony. What will make your postsstand out?
rich media = more sharesWe mentioned earlier that a photos-only feed will now be an option for users. Asyou can see in the screenshot from the demo below, the albums and individualphotos displayed can help your church be even more compelling in sharing yourmessage.You now have the task of dedicating time and resources to creating compellingvisual content for your Facebook users – or risk being unseen.
Tip 5: please replyAn updated commenting system aimedat improving conversations has startedrolling out. Some page admins now canenable this feature on their pagesmaking it easier for administrators andpage fans to interact. Conversationthreads will be re-ordered for relevanceto viewers as based on positivefeedback, connections and negativefeedback.
Tip 6: don’t forget to askWhile the number of likes on your Facebook page may not beas important as the engagement that occurs there, getting anew ‗like‘ on your page does increase your visibility and thereach of your page to friends of fans.When someone likes your page, a new story is created in thenews feed that shows your page‘s Facebook cover, along withthumbnails of people who like your page.Don‘t forget to encourage people to ―Like‖ and share your pageand keep your cover photo looking fresh and inviting.
Tip 7: Facebook + Pinterest = winA survey showed that 98% of Pinterest users saidthey also have a Facebook and/or Twitter account.Pinterest has recently given their pins a new look,displaying bigger images. How will you capitalizeon this new appearance and integrate this in yourFacebook posts?
Tip 8: have you checked-in?Location-based services are gaining popularity in thesocial world. Google+ has integrated Google places.Instagram uses FourSquare for location-based posts.Facebook has made it easy for your church to be morevisible as people check-in to your location. Are youreminding people to check in when they‘re in the buildingfor an event?
consistency across devicesLastly, Facebook has gifted us with the same look and feelacross any device we use. Whether on mobile, tablet or web,we‘ll be able to have the same user experience and side barnavigation.
conclusionThe tips we‘ve offered here are just the beginning of a new wayof interacting with your audience through Facebook.As you continue building your strategy and learning more aboutyour current and potential audience, keep planning ahead andcheck back with MyCom for more updates and tools.In the meantime, don‘t forget that compelling visual content willhelp you be more visible and viral in this new Facebooklandscape. Start planning now!
stay connected with MyComKeep up with the latest updates on tech,web, social media and tools for ministryin a digital age:umcom.org/mycom