When Your Content's "Rented Land" Bites Back
As oxymoronic as it may sound, Facebook just made a big tweak to their newsfeed algorithm. A tweak that is causing some publishers to feel like they got the wind knocked out of them. Why? Their EZ Pass to your newsfeed is being revoked. They'll still be able to post like before, but now they'll have to wait in line behind content from your Uncle Tony, your high school friends, and all of your other personal connections.
The new algorithm gives more weight to content posted by your friends than content posted by companies and publishers.
To control content is to control ideas, behavior, and ultimately money. If you're Facebook and you have 160 million unique visitors daily, you have the power to manage the visibility, reach, and thus success of many other companies. With a user base and advertising platform this colossal, the consequences will be varied but far reaching.
It must be noted that Facebook goes to great lengths to maintain neutrality when it comes to the subject of the content you see. It's a point they harp on in the recent press release about the newsfeed changes, as they've been accused of political bias in the past.
While past interactions and relevancy will still affect much of what we see, Facebook is exercising their power of changing the algorithm that ultimately controls it. Seeing as many organizations rely solely on Facebook (as a third party) to distribute its content, this recent change to their newsfeed is a much-needed reminder to them that Facebook is not a stagnant or a reliable long-term strategy for content distribution.
The takeaway for associations:
Build a home for your content (and your members)
Associations need to give credence to the power of these third party networks and the fact that they can sweep the rug out from under them at any time. While social media is a necessary facet of content strategy, if your users' content behaviors are dictated by the undulation of Facebook's decisions, this should be a big wake up call for you.
Even though your original content might live on your own website or blog, relying on Facebook to drive the large majority of traffic to that content is a short-sighted solution. It also gives Facebook the upper hand in the engagement department considering that their "Like" and "Comment" features will initiate and house the majority of user interactions that take place around your content you shared.
Translation: Continuing to use Facebook and other third parties for content strategy doesn't mean you're crazy, but relying on them solely means you might be.
The solution that many associations are benefiting from?
A branded online community as a daily destination for members to interact, consume content and engage with the association.
A strong online community can provide massive value to associations as a place to give members exclusive access to cutting edge content and provide them with the tools to learn and share with one another in an environment that you manage. You can read more on our blog about all of the ways that Online Communities Supercharge Associations.
By assuming the power to manage content and collaboration at your association, you'll have more strategic control over how your members engage with each other and ultimately build a stronger, more sustainable association culture.