Facebook is constantly making updates to its algorithms—the coding formulas that decide what shows up in your user feed. This means if you are an author using Facebook, it would be very wise to stay on top of the latest news about these updates, and know how to continue to get the most out of this social network.
(It’s also a great reason to keep your author platform “home” on your own turf—your website and your email list.)
Always remember, Facebook may be free to use, and it may be ingrained into our modern daily lives, but ultimately, it’s a business. This means you’ll always do best on this network when you pay to play with post boosts or advertising … but that doesn’t mean you need to, or even that you necessarily should. More important is to stay informed so you can continue to get the most from your efforts.
For clients and my own work as an author, I have been studying and assessing how these latest updates change follower engagement, and now I’m here to report back.
Facebook’s New Rules
The most recent of Facebook’s algorithm updates took place earlier this year, and Facebook shared that this latest update put an emphasis on “meaningful interactions.”
Facebook never shares the details of its new formulas, but it did share some of its guiding principles. The guiding core principles that these changes focused on included:
- An emphasis on personal sharing over other content types
- Indications of authentic connections
- Sparks of engagement
In short, Facebook is prioritizing connecting people to the people their Facebook engagement indicates they want to connect with. Not bad for users, but as an author, your job of connecting to readers on Facebook just got a little harder—or at least, different.
What It Means for Authors
This information is great to have, but it’s not enough to understand the thinking behind Facebook’s changes—like with any part of your modern digital platform, you must pay attention and adapt. To continue to get comparable engagement and reach you have in the past, you’ll have to change your posting behaviors. You’ll also have to understand how to change your posting behavior to continue to keep your engagement and reach as strong as possible.
How do you do that? I’ve got three key changes for you to make:
1) Accounts favored over Pages
For the first time, these changes mean you may do better with an account for your author presence, rather than a Page. If you already have a Page I don’t recommend changing it now, and for two reasons. For one, who knows when Facebook will change its algorithms to favor pages again. And two, when you choose an account instead of a Page, you forfeit a lot of great features that Pages offer.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’d advise a new author to choose an account, either, but the choice just got a lot more complicated.
2) Be personal
Facebook is rewarding personal engagement because that is what it is seeing its users want. So it would follow that your followers will respond well if you share personal items with them in your posts.
So it’s time to open up (as an introvert this is the most terrifying thing you could tell me, but there it is). How is your writing going today? What excites you about your new release? What’s going on in your personal life (within reason, protect your privacy)?
It’s time to bring out the big guns, and by big guns, I mean wear your heart on your sleeve.
3) Keep posts link-free
It seems that as long as the Internet has been social, sharing links in posts has been a factor in driving higher engagement. Not only did it autofill with an image that made your post more eye-catching in feeds, but it also offered information that your followers are presumably interested in.
Alas, those days are gone.
Along with its emphasis on personal sharing, Facebook weighs posts with links as less personal, and thus less important. It will cause your posts to have a reduced reach.
However, I offer this workaround: If you have a link to share, first post on the topic with your own takeaway. Then, follow up with a link to the additional connect in the comments.
I don’t know that the reach is the same as under the old algorithm, but it’s certainly helped my clients who tested this approach jump their engagement positively again.
Facebook Changes, You Adapt
Facebook makes updates to its user experience all the time, so no one knows how long these rules will apply. The next update could change some or all of it again. This is why it’s important to stay up to date on these updates as they occur, and adapt when necessary. In the meantime, these tips will help you to maintain your presence with your followers and remain visible.
That said, the basic best practices of social media still apply. No one knows your readers like you do. If all you do is stay focused on what they care about and maintain a consistent presence, you will certainly see your engagement metrics fluctuate with these changes, but you’re going to continue to be just fine.
By day, Emily Wenstrom is an author social media coach and content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.