Facebook changes news feed again; may have huge impact for marketers

Just when Facebook was starting to make things easier for marketers to get their content seen on people’s news feeds they’re changing the algorithm again.

A blog post from earlier today announced changes to the news feed that are on the way, and it’s pretty clear they could have huge implications for marketers. The changes are:

  1. Multiple posts from the same publisher will now be allowed one after another if the user doesn’t have much other content.
  2. Content posted directly by “friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links” will be higher up in News Feed. They also say, “If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.”
  3. Stories about people’s friends liking or commenting on a post will appear lower down in news feed or not at all.

The first change shouldn’t impact too many marketers significantly since most Facebook users have enough content to fill their timelines, although it may give a slight boost to those who post frequently.The second two, however, sound like they will make it much harder for marketers to get into your news feed.

Facebook has always had a struggle to make the news feed interesting enough that users still want to go to the site, while at the same time incorporating enough paid and marketing content that they turn a profit. Only time will tell for sure what these changes will mean, but it does sound like getting content into people’s news feeds will be much harder before too long. Which might make news feeds more interesting for users, but will almost certainly result in more revenue for Facebook as companies realize it is easier to just pay for sponsored posts that force their way into the news feed.

Canada’s spam law might not make a massive dent in spam – but it’s still great.

The new Canadian anti-spam law may not mean a whole lot less spam for you, but you should still be happy about it.

A new anti-spam law will take effect on July 1 that regulates commercial emails sent to or from Canadians. It’s one of the strongest such laws in the world, with penalties up to $1million for an individual violator and up to $10million for companies.

The law will make it illegal to send commercial emails without getting permission first, and this will apply to social network and text messages as well. And with those stiff penalties the law should take a huge dent out of the amount of spam Canadians receive, right?

Well, maybe not. Security and spam experts say only 1.3% of the world’s spam is sent from Canada. So even if the law significantly reduces that, we will still continue to get plenty of spam from people all over the world (primarily China, USA, South Korea and Taiwan).

Nonetheless, it’s easy to get over the disappointment of finding out that we won’t wake up to spam-free mailboxes on July 2 when you take a closer look at the law.

The government had to move now because while the overall amount of spam from Canada is still relatively low, it is growing. In 2013 Canada for the first time made the top 20 list of the world’s worst spamming countries, coming in at #14. So the new law and its stiff penalties should stop and ultimately reverse that trend.

One of the most significant aspects of the law (that is receiving strangely little attention) addresses viruses and malware. Under the new law it will be illegal for anyone in Canada to install computer software on a Canadian computer without the consent of the computer’s owner. This means anyone who installs a virus, bot or any other unauthorized program on a Canadian’s computer has broken the law, regardless of what the program does. And for a country with a relatively small population, Canada is one of the world’s top 10 generators of malicious software, cranking out 3.5% of the worlds malicious bots.

Then there’s the problem of phishing, or sending emails designed to look like they come from businesses, financial institutions or government agencies that try to collect personal information like login information or credit card numbers. The new law also makes that illegal.

There is no question that the new law places significant responsibilities on Canadian companies, and a huge lobbying campaign has gone on at some length about that burden, But while it remains to be seen just how much of a burden these new rules will be, what is clear is that this much-needed legislation will take a strong first swing at some very serious issues.

Is social media right for marketing your small business?

Social Media for small business
Tips for social media marketing, and the many different ways social media can be used to promote small / midsized businesses (SMBs), can be found in almost endless numbers on an incredibly wide variety of websites. But there’s one crucial tip most small businesses won’t see – and that they should consider before any of the others; namely, is social media right for you at all?

Marketing budgets for SMBs have always been tight, and human resources to manage these dollars are becoming even more scarce. So while there are clearly great opportunities for small and medium businesses to use social media to market themselves, it’s equally clear that social media isn’t for everyone.

Should you be using social media to promote your small / medium business?

1. Does your business have something to say?

This is not a minor or flippant point. Some people enjoy their work, sell great products and love promoting their company, but just don’t have a lot to say about their business. For any number of reasons you might not feel you have anything interesting to say – and you need to know that up front, before you set up social media channels that will sit dormant. The only thing worse than not using social media is setting up social media accounts and signing up followers, but then not using these accounts regularly.

2. Can you take part in a conversation about your industry?

So maybe you don’t think you have anything to say up front. Maybe instead there are people already talking about your industry where you could jump in and add your insights. Just be sure you actually have some insights to add, and that you won’t just be jumping in to the conversation to explicitly sell your product or service.

3. Do you have someone in your business who has the time?

Many SMBs have one person doing all their marketing, and generally that person will have other responsibilities as well. So while social media generally doesn’t have any explicit costs, if this person is working on social media they won’t be able to spend as much time on their other responsibilities – which might take them away from advertising, keeping the website up-to-date, developing printed materials and so on.

4. Do you have someone in your business who can do the talking?

To successfully use social media, you have to have someone who is comfortable using the technology, or at least be willing to learn, and who can be counted upon to always convey the image you want for your business.

5. Are you willing to commit?

For all its tremendous value, social media is still not a quick fix. There are some absolutely excellent opportunities for SMBs in social media, but it takes time to develop relationships and build social media channels. You may not see results right off the bat, but if you’ve addressed all the questions above and are willing to commit to social media for the long term, you’ll see the significant benefits these tools can bring your company.