A number of changes to the Facebook algorithm have been changed recently.
For those who are not familiar with the old system, I’ll quickly bring you up to speed.
Have you ever noticed that even though you may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, it’s always the same few that pop up into your news feed? The same with all the hundreds of pages you’ve liked on there – but somehow it’s primarily Fifi and Jules on your news feed?
That’s because there was a basic (okay not so basic) algorithm invented to find out what each person does and doesn’t like. It looks like this.
Put (extremely) simply… if other people seem to like the post; you normally like the stuff this person puts up; it’s more than just text; and was written not long ago – there’s a very good chance you’ll see it!
But smarty pants around the world figured out how to get around it, which is more or less why there are annoying memes all over Facebook (you know the ones with tiny writing and the promise of being funny that lure you in and then you are navigated to another page to find it really wasn’t that funny but then you can’t help but click on the next one that pops up anyway? *gasp for air*)
Unfortunately, it seems people are more interested in Justin Beiber’s abs than current affairs, because these sites are managing to wedge their way into everyone’s news feed; while many important issues such as civil wars, politics etc are rarely seen on Facebook by the masses.
This is an issue as according to Mashable, for three years now, more people have been getting their news online as opposed to newspapers – and this number is rising.
I have experienced this first hand myself, working for a not-for-profit who aims to educate parents and carers on safety issues for children. Pretty important stuff right? Saving the lives of children… yet, no, it’s Justin bloody Beiber and his naked serenade of his grandmother that goes viral.
People have finally noticed this is an issue (if you are interested, please watch this YouTube clip – it explains the issue so well!) and have recognised that the new gate keepers of information (as opposed to traditional journalists) are simply equations with no ethics and morals. They will happily feed us pictures of Beiber riding his body guards like horses for the rest of our lives!
But now it’s changing. Facebook has decided to put a greater importance on links such as to news items etc and start to filter out ridiculous memes (which can quite often be racist, sexist, or just generally offensive and degrading).
Which is great news for:
b) many PR practitioners
c) web publishers
e) anyone who produces anything with actual substance.
In recent years, those working in PR and social media have often been forced to create silly memes and funny pictures – often which have little relevance to their brand or product – for the sake of achieving social media engagement. Now, we shall see a movement in quality material with substance. We will be informing, enlightening and thought provoking, not simply funny (although we must be careful to not discard this element completely).
This could mean a push for more research, articles, and content that can be published to the website; and therefore linked to Facebook posts – which will also be awesome for search engine optimisation.
Best of all – if Facebook can pull this off – this road we were headed down of ignorance and simplicity may reach a cross road and lead us back in the right direction of knowledge and open-mindedness.
The power is yours Facebook, make us proud!