August 7th, 2012
Guest article! In which our very own Beth Becker gets excited about Facebook features.
Two Don’t-Miss New Facebook Features
By Beth Becker
Some of you may have missed the two announcements last week regarding new Facebook features. I’ll admit it, my first reaction was, “oh great, here we go again…one step forward, two steps back.” I was wrong. Both of the new features have real potential to help make the time and effort we spend on creating great content for Facebook pay off in the long term.
For those who missed it, last week Facebook announced that it’s rolling out two new features:
- The ability for Pages to target their posts using targeting dimensions very similar to those used in the ad platform
- Save/Bookmarking — the ability to bookmark posts for later reading
Targeting Page Posts
As this new feature rolls out, page admins will have the option to target their post on the following dimensions:
- interested in
- relationship status
- location (country, state, city)
Note: No targeting by interest segments seems to be available, but hopefully that’s just around the corner. [Ed note: these new post-targeting criteria are similar to those currently available to Facebook ad-buyers.]
The implications for this are almost mind-boggling. [Ed note: Beth, no one will ever accuse you of being blasé about new social media features....] While I think this can be an incredibly useful feature, I’m concerned that we’ll tend to start over-thinking the universe we create our content for and then start creating content that;s highly segmented — but of less-than-maximum quality.
It’s also worth noting that while your targeted posts will then only appear in the newsfeeds of those who match your intended universe of recipients, all of your posts will then appear on your OWN page’s timeline. This leads me to two caveats:
- Don’t-oversegment and then send all of your targeted posts in a short time frame — it’ll make your timeline look over-saturated to anyone who sees your wall
- If you’ve super-targeted a post, once you publish it, it go back to your timeline and hide the post from the timeline. This way you’re less likely to bore other members of your community with information that might not interest them, or that might be repetitive.
Saving Posts for Later
The second new feature Facebook is in the process of rolling out is it’s own version of Bookmarking or Favoriting. The idea here: that you can then bookmark a post that (for instance) has an interesting link to go back to later.
Some screenshots from The Verge:
The mechanics of this are pretty, basic but its implications for our content and metrics is worth noting. First, bookmarking absolutely has the potential to extend the “shelf-life” of the average Facebook post (currently only about 18 hours from time of posting). If people can “favorite” a post and come back to it later, that shelf-life potentially could increase to days or weeks (or for busy folks who rarely remember to back to such bookmarks like me, months). How could that affect content creation? It will force us to consider urgency as a factor. If a piece of content really needs to capture attention immediately, the call to action needs to be super-clear and focused.
[Ed note: if people end up using the feature, BTW, it should also reward quality -- if you want your content to be bookmarked, it'd better be good. Also, I'm curious to see comparative stats on which content gets bookmarked on Facebook vs. what's favorited on Twitter. What content works best on which social platform.]
Word has it that, for now, page admins will not be able to track who has bookmarked a post (unlike on Twitter) and it’s unclear if there will even be a “number of bookmarks created” metric within Insights. Such a metric would be important to pay attention to when thinking about content creation, so hopefully they will allows us some way to track bookmarking.
What a time to be in social media — Google allows ads to be targeted via congressional district, FB making some interesting changes… what would be on your wish list for social media platform developers?