The text in black is taken and yellow comes from a letter Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook. In 2018, he wants to “FIX” Facebook. In his mind, this means a shift from passive, public content to family and friend content and posts.
My Thoughts on the Future of Facebook
Here are my thoughts on his letter and the future of Facebook for schools and school districts. My Thoughts are in bold:
One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.
We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.
Although he does not specifically say this here, expect your reach and engagement on your district and school pages to drop. The key statement I see in this paragraph is that Facebook is putting friends and family at the core of the user experience.
Even though we consider our schools to be a big family, Facebook does not see it that way. Our fans and followers will see less of our content and more posts from friends and family.
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.
In the short term, this does not seem like a wise business decision. At the time of this writing, Facebook’s stock price is down four points. However, in the long run they are trying to make Facebook a better place. In the long run, they see increased value to their shareholders.
This does mean that organic growth for companies and school districts is going to plummet in the next couple of months. The new strategy for school districts will be a shift to a “Pay to Play” model on Facebook. This will be hard for many districts including smaller school districts that rely on social media to get their messages to their community.
Influencers in your school community will become very important. These influencers will come from your schools in the form of teachers, administrators and staff. Parent influencers will become more important than ever. Find parents that will share your content, but most importantly, have these influencers comment and start positive conversations about your content on Facebook.
It’s easy to understand how we got here. Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.
Connections on Facebook are based on positive conversation. It will be critical to encourage comments and conversation on your posts. Engaging content will be more likely to spark conversation. It might be time to do a Facebook audit. Which content have you posted in the last year that was highly shareable and created a conversation?
And when Facebook speaks on “Public Content” they mean us. Expect our content on Facebook to not be seen by many of our fans. Organic reach is going to die for companies and community pages. This might also be a good time to evaluate which of your content will benefit from boosting or Facebook advertising.
We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.
The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.
Viral is not going to cut it any more. You must spark conversation. Your content needs to come from your users. Sharing will become important. The content can’t come from us anymore. It must be shared and spread through friendships.
Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
Businesses are out. Content from your family and friends is in.
We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.
We must encourage influencers to share and even create our content. Which means we will need to give them the tools and strategies to do this.
Ambassador groups will become very important. And it will be critical to shift your strategy to social sharing and User Generated Content.
As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
This is scary for us. Our content is out. Expect to see organic content diminish in our fan’s timelines.
For example, there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.
How do we make our content not passive? The “Page” label might have already killed us. User Generated Content will become very important.
Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.
How do we make our content valuable in the eyes of Facebook and in the eyes of our fans?
At its best, Facebook has always been about personal connections. By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent.
How do we become more personal? It’s a great conversation to have at NSPRA 2018.