Facebook’s Heart Will Go On – Facebook Newsfeed Changes

Facebook newsfeed changes

The Titanic didn’t change directions easily. It changed directions almost reluctantly, because A) it was an ordeal to maneuver such a large vessel, and B) the staff didn’t want to cause concern among the wealthy elites on board (and I don’t have to tell you how that worked out; James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster probably handled that already). This example is an apt metaphor about how surging ahead blindly in a straight line, without planning far ahead for directional changes, can be the downfall of a large organization. In a recent statement from its founder, Facebook essentially said they’re changing directions, and they aim to avoid such a fate. Here’s what you can expect from recent Facebook newsfeed changes…

Time Well Spent

Facebook will often casually roll out cosmetic changes, to the mild and temporary frustration of users, but typically does not make major changes to the framework. So why the announcement? In keeping with the Titanic example, they must be observing something the rest of us can’t see – a distant iceberg that can be avoided in the future by acting now. Opinions on this bit of news vary. To the average user, the promise of improving the user experience sounds good. Speculation from some is that Facebook has observed a concerning trend of certain demographics dropping off in their time spent on the platform, and therefore they feel the pressure to, as Zuckerberg puts it, “making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” In other words, cater the experience to users, not to advertisers. Therefore, it raises questions for advertisers. Zuckerberg’s comments could imply that advertising will have less of a presence, and hinder the ability of companies to find and engage their customers effectively. But would Facebook really choose to scare off their investors if it was that simple?

For the average Facebook user, the idea behind this is simple; that users will see more of what they actually care about, which to some people implies less ads. Some people have assumed that it means, for example, instead of every 5th post being an ad, it will be every 7th slot, thus decreasing the total ads you are exposed to as you browse. But this is not the case. What Facebook is trying to avoid is the frustration some users feel when they view their newsfeed and see a bunch of posts that they care little about. We’ve all had the puzzling experience where we see things in our newsfeed such as: a friend you barely know liked an article from a business that you don’t care about that was posted by some other friend of theirs who you don’t know at all. That feeling of “I don’t care about this” is exactly what every digital content platform wants to avoid for their users.

Interaction is the New Engagement

Facebook has several ongoing measures to combat this type of negative user experience, such as the ability to un-follow people while remaining accessible as contacts, the option to “see less” of particular types of posts, and the ability to choose which of your friends whose posts you’d like to prioritize. All of these tools have been deployed because Facebook wants you to enjoy, and find value in, browsing their product. If you enjoy it less, obviously you’ll use it less, right? These tools are great ideas, and they are accessible as consumer-facing features. However, Facebook’s major update in question has more to do with the back end; the algorithm which determines what to show you without your direct input.

Speaking to our partner support reps at Facebook, our first question was whether this update could entail a decrease in available ad real estate (inventory, as they call it). The answer is that the opposite is actually true. Between newsfeed, right column, messenger, audience network, etc, plus a steady increase in total users, there is no shortage of ad placements available. What is more affected is the potential reach of organic posts, particularly those of businesses. Things like comments and shares on a post are going to be weighted more heavily than simple reactions (such as likes, or the other array of emotions available at the push of a button).

Strathcom Can Help

To reiterate these Facebook newsfeed changes: ads will still be shown. From an advertising perspective, this update is not a reason for concern. It is, however, a reminder of the importance of organized, regularly maintained, strategic, managed advertising campaigns. The best Facebook business pages have outstanding organic content, plus a healthy advertising strategy attacking multiple levels of the marketing funnel. Relying simply on organic posts will be less and less effective as Facebook endeavors to show its users more of the organic posts that they want to see and interact with, not just the organic posts that businesses want them to see. If you are of the belief that your business’s organic posts have sufficed so far, and you don’t see the need for an advertising plan, let’s just say you may not have noticed the iceberg damaging your Titanic, but don’t be surprised when you start to take on water and your Facebook traffic sinks.

Inquire about these recent Facebook newsfeed changes or about an online advertising package with Strathcom, and while we can’t literally make you “the king of the world”, we can at least keep your online presence afloat.

If you haven’t read it already, here is Mark Zuckerberg himself explaining the genesis of this change and the theory behind it.

Last-Click Attribution is Fake News

The Stats: Conversion Rates, Goals & Assists

My personal favorite Wayne Gretzky statistic? If you take away all his goals and just count his assists, he would still have more total points in the NHL than any other player’s goals and assists. Combined.

It is worth noting, however, that a certain ageless wonder named Jaromir Jagr might just make this fact obsolete, depending on how much longer he can evade the chapped, grim clutches of Father Time. Especially remarkable, however, is that while highlighting the baffling number of career assists tallied by Jagr, the Great One remains the all-time leader in goals scored. It’s therefore safe to say that not all of his records are threatened by the mullet-icon. Continue reading “Last-Click Attribution is Fake News”

I Don’t Want To Give You My Email

I dislike getting my picture taken.

I’m not sure why, that’s just how I’ve always felt. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to renew my passport, because not only can I no longer pretend I still look like I did 5 years ago in the last picture, but I had to spend a morning waiting in line at a government building after getting my picture taken. Luckily you don’t need to smile for the camera for these.

When I went to the studio, I told them I needed a simple passport photo, got my best neutral face ready, and picked up the debit terminal to pay. The girl behind the counter handed me a form and told me to fill out my name and email address first.


I said “Why do I have to fill that out; can’t I just give you money?” She said that’s not how they do things, all customers must fill it out, it’s store policy. I was not given a reason why, but in the fine print at the bottom of the form was the typical text along the lines of “by filling out this form, I consent to receive further electronic communication”. Why? Must we complicate every benign transaction? I don’t like the idea that the next time I pop into a gas station for a pack of gum, they’re going to insist that I give them my personal information first. If I give my email address to the photo studio, they’re going to send me emails about their latest promotions, emails around Christmas trying to convince me to bring the family down for a shoot, emails about anything and everything – they’re probably even going to share my email address with the department store in which the studio is located, and I’ll get who-knows-how-many emails from them, too.

I didn’t say all of that, however, I just wrote down a fake email address without consequence. The perfect crime, right? She didn’t know it was fake, I got my photo, I left, and I won’t be receiving emails begging me to come back. If I need them, I know where to find them, and even then: unlikely. Like I said, I don’t like getting my picture taken.Frustrated male on his laptop at a desk in his room

Customers, and prospects, value their privacy.

The way customers want to interact with businesses is always evolving. Not so long ago, the newest and greatest thing to a customer was the ability to fill out a form on the website to submit their inquiry and get an email reply. Businesses then realized they should keep these email addresses for future marketing efforts, from e-newsletters to populating remarketing lists. Somewhere along the way, it became too much, and customers got sick of the constant barrage of emails from businesses they interacted with for a small fraction of time (and many they’ve never even heard of because someone may or may not have sold an email list to someone else).

We still tend to idealize form leads in the automotive sector. Sure, it’s great when a salesperson can get a neatly wrapped parcel in their email inbox containing the customer’s information and the nature of their inquiry written down for future reference. However, the rate at which form leads are being submitted is on the decline. Email is certainly not going away as a primary means of communication, but customers are increasingly reluctant to give up their email addresses. Some of the more distrusting prospects are even resorting to temporary email services, whereby a web service will provide exactly what it sounds like: a temporary email address which can both send and receive emails, giving no personal information away. Anyone who has worked in a dealership on the receiving end of form leads can tell you that plenty come in with the email address field full of gibberish text, or something like “asdf@asdf.com”, where users are hoping that the email requirement to get a free CarProof or trade appraisal is just a bluff, and the information will just pop on screen rather than having to come later from a salesperson. The distrust and frustration is plainly evident in how customers submit form leads.

woman sending emails from laptopOn the other hand, phone call leads are on the rise, as are live chats. It’s easier than ever for a website visitor to launch either of those instantly, and information without unwittingly subscribing to future emails.  Fortunately, different types of conversions can be tracked, and we can distinguish which phone calls are coming in as a result of clicking on an ad, to help businesses understand exactly where their leads originate. Strathcom President Duncan Cochrane expanded on this in his blog post discussing the different categories of conversions, and why it is necessary to know what exactly is being considered a conversion.

Many dealers still compartmentalize their incoming phone calls as being independent of online advertising, when they are in fact directly attributable to the campaigns, ads, and keywords which prompted someone to inquire.

It is also worth noting that CASL regulations are changing as of July 1, 2017, and it’s going to be more difficult to build and communicate with your email list.

But the point here is that we cannot get too attached to form leads as an indicator of effective online advertising campaigns. Unless your business has conducted intensive research, nailing down where every sale originates, calculating which source is most profitable, and has made some conclusions which no one else has yet… all leads should be valued. (#AllLeadsMatter). Therefore, our word of caution: completely altering a marketing strategy to gain a few more form leads, at the expense of what could be a large quantity of other types of leads, would be chasing a false positive.

Sure, you might capture a few more emails. But how do your customers feel about that?