Facebook has changed its algorithm again—do you have the skills to make your posts stand out?
At the turn of the century, I got my first job in tech. Although they didn’t call it “tech” back then. They called them “dot coms.” My company leased railroad cars and our industry edge was that we provided reports on the Internet that tracked customers’ cargo. It was my job to write those reports.
In addition to writing reports (if a train leaves Chicago at 3 p.m. . . .) I had to anticipate what customers wanted. My clients were using the data to problem-solve, which means they needed reports specific to their trouble areas. One company had very long trains of coal cars that often got split up and incorrectly re-routed. They needed to know exactly how many cars were in each train. Another client had issues with a specific corridor. He didn’t care how many cars were in the train. He needed to know when his cars were sitting in the yard instead of chugging along.
The problem was, the customers didn’t always know what reports would tell them what they wanted. We had to figure it out as we went along.
Which brings me back to employers of the engineers of Facebook which are not unlike the employers of the engineers of Union Pacific. They know what the end result should look like. They’re fuzzy on how to get there.
What’s the core mission of Facebook? To connect people to what they want to be connected to (and make some money in the process). What do you want as a writer? To be connected to the people who will read your stuff (and make some money in the process).
Remember when you could add anybody as a friend? That was back in the very early days—2005, to be exact. There were no graphics or emojis, only punctuation. There were no “pages.” There wasn’t even a “like” button. Remember that? The “like” button evolved as everything at Facebook evolves—a tool to connect. Can’t think of how to respond to a comment but want to show acknowledgement? In real life you could nod. Or raise your eyebrows. Or say mm-hmm.
So Facebook invented a “like” button as a way to virtually say, “Mm-hmm.”
It was also really useful. Because if I know you like Nordstroms and jeggings, I can tell you when they're on sale at a store near you. Better yet, I can charge Nordstorms to tell you that they're on sale at a store near you.
This isn't nefarious on its own. It's consumers finding the products they want. Kinda like a reader who is looking for your book.
After the scrutiny post-election on the sharing of fake news, Facebook has changed its algorithm, favoring posts by friends over shared links or apps cross-posting to Facebook on your behalf. This isn’t rocket science. You can see the results in your own feed. Share a link from a website and you'll see a handful of views. Write a post about what you had for breakfast and the number of friends who see this "news" on their timelines is exponentially higher.
The question is, how do you use technology to reach your audience at a time when Facebook is stifling technology’s ability?
Well today is your lucky day! Because it just so happens that we're teaching a workshop to show you how!
Slaying the Social Media Beast: A Hand’s On Workshop for Writers takes place Wednesday, April 18 at the Hivery in Mill Valley from 10 am to 12 pm.
Full details here!