What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors

facebook button on a keyboard

On January 11th Facebook announced massive changes to what content people will see.

As an author, here is what you need to know.

But first, let me explain how Facebook works.

How Facebook Works

News Feed FYI: Bringing People Closer Together

Posted by Facebook on Thursday, January 11, 2018

In the early days of Facebook, everyone saw everything and life was good. But if you have hundreds of friends and you follow hundreds of pages, that can result in thousands of pieces of new content every day. That is too much for any one person to read.

So Facebook instituted the Edge Rank algorithm, that sorts what users see.

Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm Looks At:

  • User Preference (Are you “see first”?)
  • Social Proximity (How many mutual friends do you have?)
  • Likes / Reactions (How many likes does this post have? )
  • Comments (How many comments does this post have?)
  • Recency (How old is this post?)
  • Promotion (Is this post boosted?)
  • Shares (How many shares does this post have?)
  • Content Type (Is this a popular kind of content? )

Certain types of content are favored. Facebook Live Video is best, then photos, text, and links (in that order). YouTube videos are in last place. Facebook doesn’t want you to go to Youtube, it wants you to share Facebook videos instead.

What Facebook Changed in 2017

Fast Loading Webpages Get Priority in News Feed

Pages that load faster get priority in the newsfeeds. So if you have a slow website, your web website lost points on Facebook. You can test your page speed with a GT Metrics Page Speed Test.

Engagement Bait” Posts De-Priotitized in the News Feed

Engagement bait is a post designed to game the algorithm. For example, “Click ‘like’ if you want the Cowboys to win. Comment if you want the Falcons to win.”

News Feeds Weighs “Reactions” More Than “Likes”

Reactions (like laugh, heart, and crying face) are now weighted more than likes. So if somebody gives you a heart emoji, that’s more than if they just give you a regular thumbs up.

Video Prioritized Based on Completion Rate

If people stop watching your videos halfway through, you’ll lose points. If readers are finishing the video that you shared, you get more points and more people will see it.

The January 2018 Change

Author Brand Pages Are Now De-Prioritized 

This means that when you share content from your regular author page, fewer of your readers are going to see it.

Comments (and long comments) Are More Important

And the other thing that they’re changing is that comments are now weighted even more heavily than likes and reactions. Facebook is also looking at how long the comments are. The longer the better.

It’s more important than ever to earn comments. But don’t bait them! The easiest way to earn legitimate comments is to ask question in your posts. Questions get readers talking.

Pre-recorded Videos are De-Prioritized.

Posting a book trailer is now less of an effective strategy than it was in 2017. Although, I don’t think it was very successful in 2017. For book trailers, it’s very hard to make those work and to drive traffic and drive sales of your book.

Live Video is Still Prioritized

A live launch party may be an effective strategy in 2018. I’d encourage you to experiment with live video. Readers want to see you, they want to see that authenticity. So don’t worry too much about looking good on video.

Facebook Advertising Will Get More Expensive

Here’s why I think ads are going to get more expensive.

  • Demand will go up. One is that since brand pages are being de-prioritized, those brands, if they want to reach the same number of people, are going to have to spend more money to reach the same number of people. Big brands can afford to do this.
  • Supply will go down.  According to Facebook, these changes will likely reduce the amount of time people spend on Facebook. Less time on Facebook means fewer ads to sell. The supply of ads will drop.

When demand goes up and supply goes down, prices rise.

This is bad news for authors advertising $4.99 e-books. They have a small little margin for ads, especially when bidding against other advertisers who are selling big-ticket items like computers or courses.

That doesn’t mean that Facebook ads won’t work. But, you need to keep a close eye on your ads to make sure you’re not suddenly losing money acquiring readers.

I also encourage you to experiment with Amazon Ads. A lot of authors are getting good results, especially with well-optimized ads.

What Savvy Authors Should Do

Don’t panic.

Ask your readers to mark you as “see first” so they can see your content.

The algorithm changes won’t keep readers from seeing your posts if you are “see first”. The only way to convince them is to share amazing content on Facebook.

Another strategy is to say “I will only post when I have a new book. Mark me as “see first” to know when new books come out. I like this strategy better because it is less work.

Start a Facebook Group 

A group can serve as a good companion to your Facebook page. Groups still work well especially if they get lots of comments. Create a place for your readers to talk to each other about your writing.

Reduce Time on Facebook

I deleted Facebook off of my phone and started using StayFocused on my computer to reduce the time I spend on Facebook. I am happier and more productive in the real world than I am on Facebook.

Bottom Line

If you are an author, don’t build your marketing strategy on Facebook’s shifting sands. You have no idea of the change they’re going to do next month and the month after that.

Authors Don’t Need to Be On Facebook To Succeed

Use the time you were wasting on Facebook on things that sell books.

Things That Sell Books:

  • Writing another book.
  • Your website and your e-mail list. For tips on how to make your website amazing, take our free course.
  • Your Amazon product pages. Optimizing your title, cover and description can do wonders.
  • The last pages of your book promoting your other books.
  • Your GoodReads Profile. It only takes an hour or two to optimize.

 

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