Wednesday, March 26, 2014

No Corners Cut in Social Media

Image via Digital Inspiration

Let's talk about Facebook this week. Something is always going on with that social platform and it makes the news almost every day.  They're always trying something new and breaking something in the process, which drives some of their users crazy, but as long as their profits come from advertisers and they're not charging their users to be there, it's not likely they're going to become a kinder, gentler Facebook anytime soon.

What You See and What You Don't

If you've been staying current on FB news, you  know that there's been a lot of talk about the FB algorithms for determining what you see. If you don't change your preferences, your newsfeed will show you what it determines are the "Top" stories, rather than the most recent. If a page you like hasn't got enough interest, you may not see their posts unless you choose specifically to include their notifications after you Like them. If you rate your social media outreach by engagement, your statistics will be dismaying: engagement levels will fall significantly.

However, Pages - like those managed by small nonprofits - are always welcome to upgrade their posts to 'sponsored' by paying FB to post them more prominently so that they have a greater chance of being seen. This strategy, which has allegedly recently been increased, is meant to start getting the bigger brands like Oreo to pay for more reach. If they don't want to lose the community they've built up, they'll need to pay the piper.

Unfortunately, this means that small businesses and small nonprofits, which have also established presence on FB will be hurt. Without the budget to promote their posts, they may lose engagement. This means that they'll have to work extra hard to get their posts Liked and Shared so that they don't quickly fall off of the newsfeed. (There's a more in-depth article about it, which does contain salty language. Read it here at ValleyWag.)

Facebook and Big/Small Data

Businesses are pretty consumed with Big Data these days. Not something that small nonprofits have had on their radar, although it's useful to know about it, because a lot of the bigger corporations and foundations are using Big Data to figure out where to spend their money.  Usually, though, where the money is for small nonprofits is in Small Data: reaching out with the "best possible content, one piece at a time." If the theory in this article turns out to be correct, it's likely that card swiping (cards on your tablet or smartphone as opposed to credit card swiping) may be something that Facebook hasn't anticipated and an engagement platform that lets you make use of this technology (like Tinder) may be the wave of the future for small nonprofits.

Meanwhile, it's not enough to know about some things on the periphery. I know you've got a ton of work to do, but as we move on in time, social media isn't going to get less important. To survive and thrive here, don't look for the quick 10 easy steps to making it work for your mission. It may seem like you're learning when you go through those lists and bullet points, but the thing that teaches best is learning followed by experimentation and experience.

Bonus Data:

Happiness is Contagious (Psyblog) - emotions expressed online are contagious.

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