The Facebook changes announced last week at the developers conference, and those in the weeks before, have major implications for the way employers use the site to brand themselves and build relationships with potential candidates and future hires.
Recruiters who now use Facebook exclusively or mostly to push out jobs will become even more marginalized by the increasing emphasis the social site is placing on engagement. Those who actively invest in courting their Facebook “fans,” offering content of value, and real conversations, will reap even greater rewards than they do now, earning their brand a place on user’s forthcoming Timelines, and the ability to broaden and measure their reach as visitors “Share” content with their own FB friends.
One of the consequences of these and the other changes Facebook is rolling out, is that it will be harder than ever for employers to compete for attention. Even before last week’s f8 conference, when the company’s most profound changes in years were announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, routine updates such as a “like” or a me-too comment, and job postings, were being moved to a ticker-style activity window on the profile page. Even more is likely to appear there as Facebook’s standards of what’s worthy of being a top post, and thus rising to the top of a person’s wall, become more stringent. (A good summary of the announced changes is available here.)
In fact, the new Graph Rank will govern positioning of content in both the Timeline and ticker. Facebook didn’t share any details of the algorithms Graph Rank will use in deciding worthiness, but engagement will undoubtedly play a prominent role.
MediaPost, in an article earlier this week on the implications for marketers of the sweeping changes, says, “One initial takeaway is that while the new features could create more opportunity for users to interact with brands and products, an increased volume and velocity of updates on Facebook could also make it harder to break through the clutter to reach consumers.”
Until now, the most significant Facebook metric for employment marketers was the number of Fans. Soon, the number of times an item was “shared” and the number of times a connection was made to a Facebook timeline will be even more important measures.
That someone now “Likes” your post is another current measure of interest. With the changes though, you’ll be able to offer them a more active engagement, so they can tell their friends they are “reading” your post, or “applying” for a job. Employers can create their own action-oriented apps to supplement Facebook’s three default Lifestyle apps: “reading,” “watching,” and “listening to.”
Analyzing the potential these changes will have for marketers, 3601, a top-ranked digital marketing agency, said:
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The features that Facebook announced … reinforce the notion that engagement matters more than ever. Brands must continue to create and share relevant content, experiences, and applications on a regular basis. A core objective for marketers remains becoming a part of consumers’ personal stories in a shareable way.
The meaning of these changes will take time to be fully sussed out. And user reaction to the changes already implemented — the news feed and ticker, most prominently — which have been mostly negative, may result in some adjustments.
The broad strokes, however, are clear. Facebook is saying that engagement is what counts. Those of you, therefore, who have a Facebook page that is rarely updated, or which consists of job listings and nothing else, you’re wasting your time. That’s not a social media program now, and once Timeline and the other changes are pushed out to all 800 million users, you may discover that not even those few people who are your “Fans” remain.
For everyone else, now is the time to take another look at the content you post and the breadth of your online conversations. While it looks like it’s going to be a matter of trial and error to learn how Facebook’s Graph Rank works, the opportunities to be a part of the activity stream and to consider what Lifestyle apps make sense need to become a part of your social media strategy.
It’s easy to say, of course, that the content you post needs to be useful, valuable, and interesting in order to engage your fans and others. What specifically that content should be, however, is another matter. As you think through the implications of the forthcoming Facebook changes, take a look at past content that promoted comments and reposting. Your visitors and friends and fans, by their Likes and discussion, have already pointed at what they find valuable.
The marketing agency, 360i, in its report, talked about the marketing challenges posed by the changes, which it said “should generate a tremendous amount of additional content on Facebook.” “Brands,” the agency said, “will have to be even more strategic, creative, and relevant to their fans to stand out.”