Facebook usually updates the code on their website twice a day. That’s a lot of updating! Most of the time, you probably don’t notice the changes. Often the changes are to the way your news feed works—but, again, you probably don’t even notice. While these changes may seem small and unnoticeable, they can have a huge impact on author pages. Such was the change this past January.
Recent Facebook Changes and What They Mean
This past January, Facebook overhauled how it ranks what shows up in a person's News Feed to put a more substantial focus on friends and family. What does that mean? It means when Aunt Susie posts a video of her dog running in circles, you’ll probably see it, but when your favorite author posts an announcement of his/her newest book, you probably won’t.
Kind of sounds like there is no longer a point to an author posting on Facebook, right? Why spend time on a social network when you’ll potentially just go unnoticed? Maybe because Facebook has over a billion users and to walk away is to leave one of the most powerful publicity channels out there.
Why Would Facebook Do This?
Because Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wants people to spend less time on Facebook. You read that right! Facebook’s new strategy is to give people more of what they want, where they want it so you don’t have to spend time scrolling through posts that mean nothing to you.
So what do you do? As with most things with Facebook, there’s a free way and a paid way. You should pay attention to both. This change does sound bad, but you can still make it work in your favor.
How to Show Up in Facebook News Feed - The Free Way
The news feed algorithm will bury your post...at first. Educate your fans. On the left side of all Facebook pages there’s a navigational menu: the first item there is “News Feed”; next to that is three little dots. If a user clicks on that, a box comes up that lets users prioritize what they see first. If your fans want to see all your latest posts, then encourage them to go there and click your page, so your page appears on top. You can tell them this in a Facebook post, but be sure you communicate this option to them via other communication channels as well, such as your e-newsletter, blog, or on your author website, just in case.
How to Show Up in Facebook News Feed - The Paid Way
For several years, Facebook has let publishers take a pay-to-play approach. This means you could pay a little bit of money to promote your Facebook post or ad to Facebook’s large user-base. When done right, it can help you sell more books. All of this is still true, but it is now even more impactful.
This is what you need to remember: you are not the only person who is being impacted by these changes. There are millions. Many know about the changes, but are doing nothing; many more don’t even know about the changes. That means these changes, if you want them to, can work to your advantage. If users are seeing less third party content and more of Aunt Susie’s dog posts, then when they see your paid post show up at the top of their feed, it’s going to stand out a whole lot more.
If you are serious about growing your author platform as a writer, then you should always look for organic growth opportunities on Facebook, but those seem to be getting smaller and smaller; paid Facebook campaigns will need to be part of your author book marketing strategy if you want to use this space to increase your visibility. Whether a paid social strategy is right for you is a decision you'll need to make for yourself. You may find your money could be better spent elsewhere, so I encourage you to consider your options and make the choice that best suits your time, your author goals, and your budget.