How Facebook’s Changes Show You What It Wants

Written by Laura Roeder

On March 15, 2016

When you want someone to do something, you don’t always say so directly – you just reward the behavior you want to see more of.

If you’re teaching your new puppy to roll over, for example, you shower her with praise every time she does it, or take her out for a surf n’ turf dinner.

Lately, Facebook has been making changes. Some of those changes are already taking effect, and some are going to be hugely influential later on.

And then there are the changes that tell us a lot about what kind of behavior Facebook wants to encourage.

Some of the improvements they’ve made to their interface and their algorithm over the past few months indicate that there are certain things Facebook and its users want to see more of.

What are these changes, exactly? And what do they mean for the way you market your business on social? Time to read between the lines.

Facebook loves live video

There’s something so special about live broadcasts, right?

Anything can happen! From political gaffes to wardrobe malfunctions to lip-sync scandals, you get to watch the unpredictable unfold in real time – and that’s kind of exciting.

The unpredictability of a live broadcast can make for some memorable moments.

The unpredictability of a live broadcast can make for some memorable moments.

Facebook knows it – and so do its users.

That’s why Facebook is encouraging live video broadcasts by giving them priority placement in the News Feed.

The network announced that its users like watching live video more than pre-recorded stuff, so the two types of video are no longer receiving equal treatment.

Now, live video will take priority in the News Feed, so that more people can be enticed to watch the type of content they apparently prefer. After a live broadcast has ended, its recording will be categorized the same as any other pre-recorded video – that is, it won’t necessarily shoot to the top of the News Feed the way it did while the broadcast was live.

So, Facebook’s showing their love of live video. But how does that factor in with other changes?

Facebook loves fast messaging

Around the end of 2015, Facebook supercharged its messaging capabilities for anyone with a Page.

That upgrade was a continuation of an earlier change that awarded a special badge to Pages that responded quickly to messages – now, the network automatically calculates every Page’s message response time, and allows Page admins to choose whether or not they share that response speed where everyone can see. (Facebook also started offering tools that made it easier to manage your Page’s messages, too.)

So Facebook gives News Feed priority to live video. It made messaging easier and incentivizes maintaining quick response times.

What’s it add up to?

Facebook wants you to be live

Facebook has made and continues to make changes that reward live participation – in other words, they want you to actually be ON Facebook.

Which, you know, makes sense.

Unlike your one uncle with all the weird political opinions, though, you don’t necessarily have the time to just constantly be on Facebook. You have things to do!

You need to make time for being on Facebook by NOT being on Facebook.

You can’t actually add hours to the day, so if you’re going to spend more time being live on Facebook, you have to spend less time doing something else.

Facebook is prioritizing and rewarding activities that have to be performed live – but there’s a lot of other stuff you don’t have to do live, and that you can get out of the way in advance.

Because there isn’t an apparent advantage to posting status updates live, for example, you may as well take care of them ahead of time by preparing them in batches.

(Hint: A 2016 study by BuzzSumo found that questions and image posts tend to get the strongest engagement.)

Source: BuzzSumo

Source: BuzzSumo

Sharing the same thing more than once can save you serious time, too – especially when you consider that Facebook algorithms prevent most of your followers from seeing any given post, and that Facebook users tend to scroll through the feed pretty quickly anyway. (The most-engaged-with text updates are shorter than 50 characters long, while video ads deliver nearly half their total value in just three seconds.)

Basically, there are some things you really, really should be doing LIVE on Facebook, because the network actively incentivizes doing so.

And since there are plenty of everyday tasks you perform on Facebook that you don’t have to do live, you can take care of those in advance to make time for the things that do have to be live.

(The vast majority of marketers plan their social in advance anyway – saving time for the live engagement that Facebook is increasingly encouraging just sweetens the deal.)

Considering how often Facebook implements changes (it’s kind of a lot), we’re likely to continue seeing more incentives for live engagement in the future – so start nurturing good habits now by making time for it however you can!

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