Let’s talk about social media, the recent announcement regarding algorithm changes, and what it means, especially for Facebook Pages and Christian communicators.
Some are calling the latest news “Facebook Zero”. Why? Because people who already have low engagement could see even less. Some wonder if there’s room for that without having zero visibility,
I honestly believe these changes are good for us.
I believe they can spur Rise Up Writers (Christian communicators) to become better at what we do.
So many Christian writers, speakers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs are weary, overwhelmed, and frustrated with social media. I get it. It is frustrating in many ways. You have to learn the lingo, the tools, and how to use them well for your content to get seen. It’s like learning multiple extra languages.
Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes.
I want to help you sort through this. You can be encouraged to pick and choose what to engage in. Take it one piece at a time.
Let’s chat about what Facebook’s goals are, what it means practically, why it can be a good thing for Christian communicators, and what we can do about it. I hope this helps settle down fears and confusion so you can take one step at a time and use social media as a tool to help others, if it fits your needs and season of life.
Note: All thoughts shared in this article, and in the YouTube Video: Facebook Pages Changes and How to Deal with Them, are mine. They are not expert opinion. I do not profess to be a guru on all things social media. What I am is an avid Facebook user with both pages and profiles. I’m also an observer. I’m just like many of you, trying to figure it out and learning what to use and what to skip.
Facebook is Cleaning Up & Keeping it Social
If you change your Facebook timeline settings to see ‘Most Recent’ instead of ‘Top Stories’, you might notice a number of posts you are not interested in. This includes content from pages you forgot you liked, sales-oriented posts, and friends and family talking about things which just aren’t your thing. Facebook algorithms have weeded these out for you. If you’re not being social, i.e. not engaging with what you see in your feed, they decide it’s not content you want to see.
This is generally a good thing. Facebook wants you to enjoy the experience and continue to use their platform. If you have liked a business or bloggers page, and then don’t interact with it, Facebook decides that you don’t have any interest in it. In many cases they are right. Sometimes they are not.
It’s worth checking out the ‘Most Recent’ stories to find out. If you see a page or profile share content that interests you, interact with it. Like it. Comment it. Click through. Share it. These are all part of what Facebook measures as engagement. I noticed tons of posts I had no interest in seeing. I also noticed content from pages I forgot I had clicked like on. They were no longer of interest to me, so I unliked the pages.
Facebook says they are making more algorithm changes that could further limit the visibility some posts and content. While they mentioned Facebook pages especially, I believe the changes apply to profiles as well. I think they’ve been making them already. I’ve noticed a decrease in some of my profile engagement in the last few months. By understanding the latest news, I’m learning why. Continued observation helps me use Facebook better on both my profile and my page.
Some people are crying foul, again, and calling Facebook money hungry. Facebook is a business. They will make decisions to increase profit. There is nothing evil or greedy about this. They provide a service millions love to use and they can decide how to offer that service. We decide whether or not we want to use it, or something else. Our feedback makes an impact though. Zuckerberg says these changes are based on people not happy with the amount of public/brand content in their feeds.
Rather than getting upset at Facebook, let’s consider a few of Facebook goals.
Social Interaction / Engagement
Social Activity within Facebook (This includes staying on Facebook and not being directed off the platform to public content.)
Real people having real conversations with real people. (Not people scrolling and passing through.)
Penalties and Demotion for Engagement Baiting
Facebook wants engagement. Real, authentic, meaningful engagement.
This means, in addition to penalizing visibility for sharing click-bait posts, we will see our content demoted and penalized if we participate in engagement baiting. It is not considered meaningful engagement. Based on this article, I may not have participated in this, but based on comments from others, I may have. Penalties are still rolling out and it’s unclear what exactly counts as engagement baiting. I would lean towards anything that seems more robotic, self-focused, and impersonal.
Here are a few examples of what I understand to be engagement baiting: (I defer to the experts here.)
Asking others to like, comment, follow
Simple questions with one word answers or emoticon responses
“Like this if you….!”
Vote baiting – Using Reactions as a voting mechanism
React baiting – Similar to vote baiting, using Reactions to signify specific responses to a post
Share baiting – ‘Share with friends to win’
Tag baiting – As noted, the ‘Tag a mate’ and similar posts which push you to link to friends
Comment baiting – e.g. ‘Comment ‘YES’ if you love rock as much as I do’
Things to Keep in Mind
Penalties and demotions will especially apply to people and pages who use baiting regularly as a way of keeping engagement.
Live video seems to be a large piece of Facebook in the future. Perhaps more so if it creates engagement for you in your pages.
Facebook is looking for social engagement. Especially friends interacting with friends. Get SOCIAL. Do not be one person centric. This is not about you.
Build connection. Serve with quality that keeps others in mind.
FB is cleaning up junk. There is a lot of junk in the feeds. Don’t provide junk!
By turning our focus to how we serve and engage with others, we will experience less tension around the concept of platform. It’s not about us. It’s about God working through us for others.
Why have a page? What is the goal for readers? Will you be selling something later? (Pages are the only way to pay for ads which could be profitable.)
Please note, if people aren’t engaging it may be due to the value of content you provide or a number of other factors. It is never about your value as a person. I know it’s easier said than believed, but we must keep working on this. If we want to give value, we must receive God’s value.
Your value is not from others. Sometimes it takes others awhile to see value in you. They may never. God always will. Keep working on where you’re getting your value.
This is about connecting with others. Not serving you.
What Does This Mean for Us on a Practical Level?
Pages with low interaction will see even less interaction.
Why? They may not be providing content that engages readers. They may have “likes” from people who aren’t really interested in the page. It will be important to try different kinds of content and see what works for people who have liked your page. The more you build your message to serve a specific type of reader, the more likely those readers will find you and benefit from what you have to offer.
Offer content that means something to readers.
Privately ask friends or family to comment, like, interact if you need momentum started. This is not a long term strategy.
Try FB Live video. Find others who can go on when you go live to start engaging with your content
Consider the impact bulk scheduling may have. Bulk schedulers and even Facebook scheduling could cause decreased views. Use sparingly. Get into your page and create real-time content more often. (TIP: I’m collecting content on a Trello board to use for those days I don’t know what to say.) (referral link included)
What is our goal as a Christian Communicator? As a Rise Up Writer?
We are to be faithful in whatever God calls us to do. Sometimes, it’s getting quieter. Sometimes, it’s learning technology and putting more of our voice out there.
To serve others in the unique spaces and places to which God has called us
Rise Up Writers GIVE value to followers, they do not GET value from readers or followers.
We are not here to get others to like and follow us so that we feel better about ourselves. We must first find our value from God. We must grow in real-life community so that what we offer comes as an overflow of what’s inside of us. Only then can we give real value. Then, we will feel less tension about building platform, because it’s not really about us, it’s about what God is doing through us.
We are to use our unique giftings to display more of God to others, no matter what kind of content we write. Fiction, non-fiction, devotions, spoken word poetry, or sci-fi.
What we write reflects who we are and what we believe.
We need to be about the work of uprooting destructive beliefs about God, ourselves, and others so that we can serve well. So we can walk more confidently in whatever role or season we are in.
How Can This Be Good for Christian Writers / Speakers / Entrepreneurs?
We have an opportunity to re-evalutate.
Take time to re-evaluate what you’re about, what you value, and what you offer. Evaluate how you see and value your your readers/followers/audience.
Are you bringing unique content/perspective to the table?
Is it genuine?
Is it in line with your values?
Is it coming from the unique package that makes you you?
Are you writing to help or to get helped? To give or get?
We have an opportunity to learn our audience better, so we can serve them well.
Learn to engage with others better. Practicing this now gives us a chance to prepare for future book or content sales. We’ll know better what our readers want and need. Also, people who know and trust you are most likely to buy from you and share your content. If these changes help you you serve them well, it also serves you to learn this now.
We have an opportunity to do the soul work we need to do.
All of us face different fears, doubts, pride issues, and more. As Christian communicators, we grow as we lead if we spend time with God. If we are actively letting Him change us. This includes digging at the root source of our fears and pride. Because low page reach might create anxiety of feelings of fear, defeat, and rejection, let this awareness bring you before God for heart-examination.
As you do the soul work, you might identify areas where you do not trust fully. Areas where your identity is in approval or what you do, and not in Christ.
We have an opportunity to try new things
We might fail and fall as we see if something fits our style and message. Then we get up again. Along the way we’re learning, growing, and being shaped into who we’re becoming. We won’t know what works until we’ve tried it.
What Can We Do?
Build your email list.
Consider what you offer. Get clearer for yourself. Get clear for others. Provide quality content. Consider ways to offer this via email. Email is still the best way to stay in touch with readers. If you don’t know what to offer via email, take time to write out ideas or ask a writer friend for input.
Always remember to keep the reader in mind when sending them email.
Are groups a fit for you? If it makes sense, you might want a group for your community. Don’t add a group, or anything else, just because. Or because you’re afraid people will never see your content. Fear is never a good reason to make a decision. As with you content and emails, consider why you would have a group.
Try out Facebook Live
Live video provides practice for speaking, sharing content, and getting to know and connect with your audience. It may bring more engagement on your page. However, please consider why you would do video. Offer content that gets attention right away and keeps people coming back.
Get ideas from others
Look around and see what works for others, but remember YOU are YOU. Only YOU can be YOU. What they are doing may not work for your specific audience, but if you keep this in mind while you observe, you may get ideas to try which feel genuinely consistent with who you are and what your brand is.
Choose to try
When it doesn’t work, try again. Get a group of friends you can get real close and personal with to share your frustrations with. Get others to help engage with your posts and video when you’re getting started so you can gain momentum. (Just don’t ask on Facebook. Do it privately with people who value what you do.)
Don’t like FB? If it just isn’t sitting well with you, try something else.
Questions to Help You To Decide
Is this stretching me?
Trying new things stretches us. Sometimes, we don’t begin new things because it seems overwhelming to try. We may need to try unsuccessfully and learn the ropes bit by bit. We don’t have to do it all, nor all at one time.
Consider whether or not this next step is something that stretches you. It could be that God wants to grow you through the process.
Is this snapping me?
Are you already stretched thin? If taking on one more thing causes anxiety and extra stress, and you’ve reached a point of not being able to live well, consider not doing it. Or taking other things off of your plate first.
Is this sapping me?
Try something new for awhile. Evaluate whether it brings life or saps the life out of you.
No matter season you are in, or what social media options you choose, let God’s voice be the loudest one you hear. Lean into Him first and foremost. Take breaks. Take it in steps. Remember, God’s algorithm trumps Facebook’s algorithm.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. ~ Colossians 3:23
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Jolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior and soul care mentor. She writes from a place of compassion for wounded Christians, encouraging and equipping them in a life of spiritual growth and emotional health. She draws upon her personal experiences, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived no matter the circumstance.