Flaws in Facebook’s recent changes


[Image c. SociallyStacked]

Last month I posted about two changes to Facebook’s terms which pleased me more than such geeky things should – the new terms for competitions which allow likes and comments to be a form of entry into a contest, and the ability to edit posts after they’ve been published.

In the last few weeks I’ve been making much use of both these changes and there are a couple of minor frustrations I feel the need to express by way of an update.

Communicating with competition winners

Firstly, using comments and likes as a method to enter a Facebook competition is all well and good – but when you come to contact your winner, Facebook’s restrictions are not.

If you have a winner who you’re not friends with on Facebook (which is obviously going to be the most likely outcome) then contacting them via private message means your note will go into their ‘other’ folder and they probably won’t see it. You’d hope that people who have entered a contest will check the page again, but as we know, that’s unlikely as the vast majority of your page’s followers won’t see the vast majority of your updates.

For me this is a prime example of Facebook’s main problem for brand pages: originally it was a relatively private social network and that’s how many people still think of it. In contrast Twitter’s settings are, by default, public. If you send a DM then the user is highly likely to see it, particularly as the majority of users’ settings will ensure they get an email notification. I’ve never had any problem contacting winners on Twitter directly. Not so on Facebook, where people (rightly) are less willing to be contacted (read: spammed) by brands, even if they have given you a like. No matter how hard it tries, Facebook can’t be Twitter. And I don’t know why it would want to be; they should be different.

Next time I do a competition like this I shall be using something like ShortStack’s comment/like importer to help me capture email address. And sticking with my Facebook tab competitions.

Editing posts after publication

Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think you can edit posts on pages if you’ve posted them via a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Which is really annoying, because I like to use the auto-scheduling function on these tools, but you can’t tag pages using them so I also like to edit posts to add that in on occasion.

Please, anyone who can edit third-party scheduled posts – let me know if it’s just lucky old me who’s having this problem…

Facebook allows page owners to edit posts after publication


Facebook allows page owners to edit posts after publication – TechCrunch report on new Facebook changes

After years of frustration relating to posts made on the move, Damn You Autocorrect-style errors, dodgy laptop keyboards with sticking ‘s’ keys and general misspelling, I am very pleased by the fact that you can now edit Facebook posts after you’ve published them. Hoorah! No more deleting entire posts, then re-posting them to lower engagement because of one erroneous apostrophe or missing ‘s’.

Facebook have made a number of updates recently which have certainly made life as a page admin a lot easier. They seem to be doing these more transparently too, which is all good and I am not going to look for cynical reasons as to why this might be. Nope.

Although – on a personal level, this probably means less hilarious drunken Facebook posts. Hey-ho. Swings and roundabouts.

Facebook allow ‘like’ and ‘comment’ competitions…


This week Facebook announced an update to its terms and conditions for Pages. In their words, they have made it “easier to administer promotions on Facebook” by removing the requirement that promotions (ie, competitions) have to be administered through a third-party.

What the rules were before

Previously, in order to comply with the terms as they were, any competition on a Facebook page needed to be managed through a tab. You couldn’t ask fans to enter a competition on your page using any of Facebook’s native functionality, like ‘likes’ or ‘comments.’ So all those ‘LIKE this post to enter!’ things you’d see were against Facebook’s terms and conditions.

What the rules are now

Or at least they were… But now Facebook are allowing competitions to be run through pages directly as well as via tabs. As they explain on the Facebook blog, “businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism”

Read the full post here.

Why it matters

I’ve seen mixed reactions to this from page owners. Some are excited – Facebook’s right, it does make competitions easier to administer – and some are concerned about the effect this will have on the News Feed. Will we be overrun with ‘like’ competitions? And what does it mean, given Facebook’s recent changes to the News Feed algorithm which indicated that posts asking for likes are seen as ‘low quality’ content?

Personally – for what it’s worth – I’m more pleased than concerned.

Why ‘like’ competitions shouldn’t replace third-party apps

I’m pleased because for quick competitions, using the ‘like’ or ‘comment’ functionality will be much easier. For a quick-win giveaway similar to a Twitter RT competition, or as a short-running contest which might form part of a larger campaign, this is a great way to run that kind of contest.

Sure, some pages will milk it – but if Facebook’s algorithm changes are as we assume, then hopefully repeat offenders will see their content branded as low quality. Plus in all likelihood, those pages may have been doing such competitions for ages, no matter what the terms say.

The other reason I’m not that concerned is because ‘like’ and ‘comment’ competitions aren’t going to replace tabs. A ‘like’ competition won’t give you longer-term engagement, it doesn’t allow you to collect email addresses, and it’s no good for a competition that you want to run for more than a few days. Third party providers still offer those things and they allow you to be creative. You can more easily invite fan contributions and ask fans to vote: all things that a simple ‘comment on this post to win’ competition won’t let you do.

So, I don’t think it’s the case that this change will mean the end of properly thought-out and creatively engaging competitions. For me, and I suspect for others, it just means I’ll now be able to run both types of promotion.

Plus, given that lots of the third-party competition app providers were offering new functionality to collect ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ within a day of the changes being announced – almost as if they were forewarned – makes me think they’re not going anywhere…

I should have known that… part one

FBpublic[Image credit, Facebook Help Center]

I’ve been managing various social media accounts for about five years. Not to mention boring a very few people with my own Twitter ramblings, Facebook updates, instagrammed landscapes, etc etc. Like most social media account managers, this means being fanatical about content and borderline obsessed with all kinds of analytics, stressing over engagement and reach and numbers of varying types.

But sometimes you discover something so blindingly obvious you are convinced everyone else has known it for ages and you are a fool. Or someone asks you something you think is blindingly obvious but you know that person is not a fool.  And the only logical conclusion is that these things are not as intuitive as you, with your obsessive page refreshing, might think.

So on the supposition that even seemingly basic things have to be explained at least once, I am going to start cataloguing some of the things I didn’t know about social media, both from a personal and an account management perspective, until I looked them up.

So here goes – starting with Facebook for personal profiles (the same tips not necessarily being the best thing for brands…)

Tips for getting the best out of your Facebook News Feed.

  • If you’re trying to tag a brand or person in a status update and the name doesn’t come up straight away, type the ‘@’ sign before you begin writing their name. Then it should pop up.
  • If you want to see updates in your feed in reverse chronological order, select to sort by ‘Most Recent’ at the top of the feed (this will be in the top right corner of the feed if you’re on a desktop, next to the first right-hand column ad. On a smart phone or tablet it should be an option under the three little lines in the very top left corner – you’ll see News Feed as a sub-option then select Most Recent, OR on an iPhone it might be an option right at the top of the feed, just under the News Feed heading.)
  • On an iPhone you can also sort your news feed by type, for example just to see photos, or to see certain lists, like people from work or school.
  • Which brings us on to lists. Like circles on Google+, you can put people in certain lists so that either they or you only see specific activity. The easiest way to find and create lists is on a desktop – go to your News Feed, then where it says ‘News Feed’ under ‘Favourites’ on the left-hand side of the page, hover over it until a little edit button pops up. Click that and it’ll show you all your existing lists – including what Facebook calls ‘Smart Lists’ ie people from your work/school networks or location.
  • This is also where you can create new lists – for example, a list for industry friends or a specific friendship group – so that you group updates from relevant people in one place. To see updates from people just in that list, you can select it either from your phone (as above) or on the desktop in the left column under ‘Friends.’
  • The ‘Restricted’ list option allows you to group specific people you only want to see your public updates. So if you’ve got work colleagues and you don’t want them to see your drunken weekend antics, add them here. To do this, go to the person’s profile and select the ‘Friends’ button at the bottom of their cover photo, then go to ‘Add to another list’. ‘Restricted’ will be an option in the drop-down – just select it. The person won’t know you’ve added them to this list.
  • ‘Acquaintances’ is another useful list. Adding anyone to this list – which you do in exactly the same way as above – will ensure that fewer of their updates appear in your main News Feed. Their posts won’t disappear entirely but you’ll only see what Facebook thinks is important. Very good for people you don’t know very well who post incessantly!
  • If you want to hide a specific person’s updates from your News Feed completely, again, go to their profile and select the ‘Friends’ button in the bottom right corner of their cover photos. There you’ll get an option to select or deselect ‘Show in News Feed.’ Again they won’t know if you choose to make sure their updates don’t show.
  • If you want to see posts from just the Pages you follow (brands, venues, musicians, TV shows, etc) then these have their own feed too. On a desktop, it will appear on the left-hand side under Pages as ‘Pages Feed.’
  • If you’re posting an update or album of pictures that you want only a certain selection of your friends to see, use the audience selector tool. This is available underneath the update box – on a status update, it’s next to the ‘post’ button and will probably be automatically set to either ‘Public’ or ‘Friends’ depending on your privacy settings. Click on it, and a drop-down box will display – as in the photo above. Select the list you want to show your update to if it’s specific (eg pictures from a work event might just be shown to work colleagues) or if you’re happy for anyone but your ‘Restricted’ list to see it, just select ‘Friends.’

It’s important to note that adding people or pages to lists doesn’t stop them from appearing in your main News Feed completely. Your News Feed will always be a collection of everything that Facebook thinks is of interest to you, based on your previous activities. So if you interact a lot with people in a newly created Friendship list and you also comment on your favourite band’s page a lot, your News Feed will still showcase activity from those feeds. It’s like Amazon recommendations: the more active you are in hiding activity you DON’T like, or commenting/clicking/sharing/ and, um, liking posts you DO like, the more relevant your News Feed will be for you. But lists are very handy for collecting everything together in one place.

Do you have anything else you’d add here that’s of relevance to personal Facebook profiles?

There’s lots more Facebook help here if you’re interested.


Facebook News Feed FYI

Facebook News Feed FYI

Facebook actually make an announcement about News Feed and algorithm changes.


They never give you all the information you’d like, but I’m liking this new Facebook for Business approach. Hope it continues.

And let’s really hope this is true: “For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they’re more than a few hours old.”