Since its launch, Facebook has transformed the way billions of people consume and share news online.  Now, it wants to reorganize the news feed with more content from friends and family by changing it’s news algorithm. The social network announced on January 11th there will be changes to their algorithm. A search algorithm is a step-by-step procedure used to locate specific data among a collection of information.  Social media algorithms sort posts in a users’ feed based on relevancy instead of published time. Facebook’s change to the news feed will prioritize what your friends and family share.  This change is part of the social network’s effort to create a more relevant experience for users to spend time on the site in what it thinks is a more meaningful way.

What does this mean for you and your district’s social media?

Schools and districts should review their Facebook content strategies and look at who their fans are, and what resonates with them to develop content that is relevant and meaningful to them. When a user chooses to “like” a business, restaurant, or school page, they are then able to get updates from that page’s administrator through status updates, posts, and event notices.  The new algorithm doesn’t change how users access information; users can still go to options under the news feed tab on Facebook and prioritize the pages and friends whose posts they are most interested in seeing. The reality is you still need to adjust to the change, and you need to make sure your content is engaging enough to stay at the top of their radar.

Engaging in more meaningful and detailed responses will help your engagement. Time and resources should be devoted to cultivating conversations within comment threads.  It is no longer enough to respond to a user’s post who has a question and say, ‘please direct message us,’ and put the discussion offline.  Facebook’s change to its news feed algorithm means posts that receive more comments carry more weight, reducing “likes” and “shares” to vanity metrics. Reporting is essential to your social success, by viewing your results at the account level, you can get a high-level picture of how all your posts and paid content are performing.  

Become a page that is prioritized by your followers

Use these tips to adapt to the algorithm changes and keep your content top of mind for your Facebook community.

  • Look at current content trends that resonate with your audience and create content around them
  • Start reducing post frequency to share only highly relevant and engaging posts
  • Pin posts that are time-sensitive, such as posts promoting upcoming events, reporting periods, major school announcements
    • A pinned post is a status update that you manually select to stay at the top of your timeline for seven days
  • Optimize for keywords. Make sure you don’t overuse keywords by limiting their use and mentioning them naturally in the proper context
  • Use videos because they communicate a story better than text or images. But remember, 90% of viewers will watch the video without sound so include captions
  • Promote posts such as fundraisers and school events
  • Review post performance and optimize future content based on insights

Figuring out how to stay in front of audiences is always top-of-mind for schools. The objective of Facebook is to stimulate engagement and produce valuable and exciting content. Facebook will continue experimenting with their algorithm, and the best way to adapt to the changes is by using Facebook’s metrics. These metrics can help you keep the changes in a realistic perspective so you can fine tune your engagement to your unique audience and the way they like to interact. With over two billion active users, Facebook is an important source of information for many parents and community members.  Reaching your audience through Facebook is still possible as long as you build meaningful social content.

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