Today’s post is by Andrew Foxwell, Head of New Media and Marketing for iConstituent.
As Facebook continues toward further exponential growth, more and more passionate users claim the current platform does not fulfill their personal, business, or brand needs the way they originally expected the platform to perform. To a degree, these critics are correct – the site and its far-reaching impacts have vastly evolved throughout its short life. Knowing that some users have already sworn to protest the current platform, I believe it’s crucial to investigate, assess, and evaluate these changes with an open mind. After all, Facebook’s many evolutions always have justification.
Let us consider one example: Facebook’s latest platform changes to EdgeRank, the engine that determines what content is featured in one’s newsfeed. I believe these changes come with good rationale – and those reasons center around good content and a better experience for all users. It is my opinion that many of the recent negative articles encompass beliefs written by people who are in charge of brands but fundamentally misunderstand the platform.
Specific to this point, entrepreneur and NBA team owner Mark Cuban recently stated to ReadWrite, “The big negative for Facebook is that we will no longer push for likes or subscribers because we can’t reach them all. Why would we invest in extending our Facebook audience size if we have to pay to reach them? That’s crazy.” After he stated this and more, Cuban’s comments received a great deal of press (not all of it positive) in online forums and technology blogs. I think it’s important to take the emotion out of the equation and de-bunk Mark Cuban’s over-generalized claim with the following facts:
– First, Facebook’s EdgeRank engine is constantly learning and improving what content the user sees based on what content the user personally interacts with. Like a great wine, it truly gets better with age. The more it’s nurtured and supported through personal interaction and attention, the better it will suit each user’s needs.
– Secondly, the entire experience with corporate brands on Facebook centers on robust, engaging content. Cuban’s Mavericks, along with many other brands, leave quite a bit to be desired on this front. Recently writer Ryan Tate wrote in Wired that, “Cuban wants to blast his ads into all his followers’ News Feeds — for free — even when Facebook’s software decides a follower isn’t particularly interested.” Tate’s comments further clarify my exact point: when you have a poor, repetitive, or even mismatched content strategy with your brand’s users on Facebook, it shows. The necessity for good content has arrived, and now you’re going to have to work for more engaged user interaction.
Gone are the good old days when a ‘like’ on your page equaled a delivered message such as an email. Now, similar to spam filters on a user’s email account, EdgeRank weeds out information the user will likely find uninteresting or useless to him/her personally. The software only shows users content it believes, based on previous engagement, he/she will like and will be inclined to personally interact with moving forward.
While some may argue that Facebook is purely trying to nickel-and-dime users for more revenue (and this is certainly part of their intention, as they are a multi-billion-dollar, publically traded company), it’s my belief that Facebook is genuinely attempting to reward those who take the time to learn, understand, and grow with their platform. The educated social media marketers win out.
So let’s #takethepledge and, as users, commit to creating more robust, thought-provoking, insightful content. Let’s dedicate ourselves as digital marketers to ensuring that creativity and originality continue to rise to the top, and as a result, that our online experiences with Facebook just keep getting better.
– Andrew Foxwell is the Head of New Media and Marketing for iConstituent, a Washington D.C.-based company that works with over half of the United States Congress, focusing on improved online strategy, outreach, and advocacy to constituents.