Yesterday I came across an interesting post in a group I am part of. This post linked to another post on a forum, which described various ways that Facebook is going to be changing. Basically the post, which can be viewed here, said “a friend of mine was at a place and this is what they believe they heard”.
Here are the changes as outlined by this word-of-mouth poster in case the post moves or is deleted. There’s a lot of them. You have been warned:
I’m going to post the keypoints in their entirety here, some may be worded for how the are going to affect Authors on FB, but for the most part, if you swap out the word “author” it’s relevant to anyone who uses FB as a marketing too.
Facebook groups are the future. Facebook is focusing on privacy and making the user experience more intimate. That’s what the algorithms are going to start catering to. If you don’t have a reader group, you should start one.
The things we post on Facebook should create meaningful interactions. If they don’t, your post is less likely to be seen and suppressed in the algorithms.
Group Admins are responsible for all group activity. If content is posted in a group that goes against Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) or Community Standards, admins are at risk to lose their personal profile, their business page, and their group. Admins can be shut down with no recourse.
Negative ratings reflect poorly on the admin team. Negative ratings are the angry face, the sad face, member reported content, and the number of people who block you. These things also reflect poor ratings on groups and suppress reach. Facebook wants the user experience to be positive. Sad or angry face reactions tells Facebook that the user is having a bad experience, therefore diminishing your organic reach.
Post approval process is a responsibility. Admins should have post approval turned on in groups to protect themselves from negative ratings. Questions should be asked for new joins. It’s the admins responsibility to monitor and know who they are allowing in their group.
Contest, giveaways, and free downloads are being suppressed by Facebook. If you are saying “get this free” or “enter this giveaway,” those posts are being suppressed by Facebook. This goes back to creating meaningful interactions. Authors need to stop using the traditional language and start getting creative on how they post contests, giveaways, and free books if they want their posts to be seen.
When members leave the group, they have the choice to take all of their content with them. This applies to admins as well. So if you had an admin that posted great content and then they leave the group, they have the ability to take their posts out of the group.
Teach readers to leave a reaction, not a LIKE. Liking a post means nothing to the Facebook algorithm. It does not qualify as an engagement. Readers need to LOVE it, react with SHOCK, or use the LAUGHING reaction. This shows positive user experience and will help your organic reach. Comments also boost your reach and GIF’s give you the highest ranking in the algorithm.
You CANNOT tell users how to react. In other words, you can’t say things like “Love this post and…” or “Comment below and…” Those phrases will suppress your reach because they are considered engagement baiting. What you should say is something like, “Leave me a heart and…” Engagement baiting includes words like COMMENT, VOTE, REACT, SHARE, TAG.
Sales posts on your page and in your group should be less than 20%. Facebook doesn’t want an abundance of “buy my books” posts because they don’t create meaningful interactions.
Authors should reduce takeovers or change how they are phrased. The word TAKEOVER is being suppressed. Instead, have a PARTY, an AUTHOR GATHERING, or EVENING ENTERTAINMENT.
Reduce the number of admins in the group. Again, this goes back to admin responsibility. The group admins should be you and only one or two other trusted sources.
Create Group Rules within Facebook (not just pinned in the announcements or written in the ‘about’ section of the group). They set the tone for the group and gives you something to point to if someone is not following the rules. It is your responsibility to make sure everyone is on the same page, or you risk losing your account with no recourse.
Link your group to your page. Facebook is going to be coming out with features that are specific to business pages that have groups.
Be a conversation starter in groups. Earn the badge. It shows you are creating meaningful conversations. Readers are like you. If you like to see something on Facebook, chances are that they will like it too.
Understand Facebook Community Standards and know that it’s a robot screening your content. It’s important to work within those rules in order to be present on social media. Understanding and following these standards will help boost you in the algorithms and help your ad approvals.
Newsfeed is shrinking. Stories are merging with the newsfeed. Messenger is being favored. Take the time to look through all the available options in Messenger. Messenger is soon going to be separated from the desktop, meaning it will be its own entity. WhatsApp and Messenger will be contained and can be used for direct selling. Remember, Facebook is moving to “the future is private.”
Ads are targeting new avenues. You can no longer have a small budget for Facebook ads and expect it to be successful. You need to understand targeting or you’ll be wasting money. Start testing ads in other ways that are not on the newsfeed.
Going LIVE is no longer on Facebook’s radar as an organic algorithm piece. If you didn’t go live often before, this is good news for you. If you are one who utilized it a lot, you’ll need to find other ways to boost organic reach.
Links in posts can be determined click-bait, or something that flags the Click Gap Signal. The Click Gap Signal is a measuring of inbound and outbound link patterns of a site that is being linked out from Facebook. Facebook will reduce the reach of a post if the number of clicks from Facebook is higher than it is in other areas of the internet. In other words, if more people are going to your website via Facebook versus an organic Google search, your post will be considered click-bait or spam. Facebook will suppress it and/or shut down your account. While that might not be true, that’s what the algorithm will see.
Facebook is tracking the link funnel. This means Facebook will follow where the link is going. This could also trigger the Click Gap Signal. Authors should send people to their newsletter or their website, as opposed to Amazon or iBooks. Here’s why: Your website is controlled by you. If a reader clicks on your Amazon link, they’ll find your books, your reviews, and your bio. You might think everything on your Amazon page is completely in line with Facebook’s Community Standards (no naked covers, no foul language, no erotica, etc). However, also-boughts and sponsored books leading to another book that DOES violate the Community Standards is also being analyzed. If the Click Gap Signal happens to fall on a page with questionable content, your reach is suppressed and your ads could be denied (even if you have no control over sponsored Amazon ads on your page). What’s more, the Click Gap Signal can flag you for the reviews on your books. If a reviewer uses negative keywords, bad language, etc, your reach will be suppressed.
Facebook now has the ability to scan images for content that violates Community Standards. Be careful with those erotic book covers and steamy teasers.
Groups deemed harmful on Facebook will be shut down. As per the statement put out by Facebook “…we identify and remove harmful groups, whether they are public, closed or secret. We can now proactively detect many types of violating content posted in groups before anyone reports them and sometimes before few people, if any, even see them.” This is a reaction to the New Zealand Massacre. Unfortunately, some people in the romance book world are being targeted by this based on keywords found by bots. They are losing their groups and their accounts are being shut down. Hence the reason why authors need to monitor group content and understand the Community Standards.
Sharing is not caring. Sharing from your page to your timeline/newsfeed is against the Terms of Service. By dropping your page link in a Sharing is Caring post, you are putting yourself at risk to have your account shut down. Sharing posts made on a page you are the admin of is also a no-no. Facebook wants page content to stay on the page. However, if a reader (a non-admin of your page) shares a post from your page, the complete opposite happens. This boosts your ranking in the algorithms. Facebook views this as positive content because a reader cared enough about the post to share it. If someone comments on that readers shared post, you get an even higher boost.
Don’t limit yourself to one platform. Stories, groups, Messenger, and ads are where you need to be on Facebook, but you should also be on other platforms. Move readers away from Facebook to other areas. Spread out your reach. You shouldn’t build your entire business on one platform that you have no control over.
Peer-to-peer networking is now bigger than ever. Authors should utilize each other.
There’s a lot to dive into, and of course the group was taking this quite to heart, even though none of the information was verified or ever reflected in Facebook’s latest iteration of its Terms of Service. Let’s go into a bit of it.
What Facebook’s New ToS Does Change
Facebook has a new Terms of Service rolling out on July 31st, 2019. We have known for some time, as Facebook has been quite transparent about it, that Facebook is looking to Groups and Events as the new heart of Facebook, trying to steer away from business pages and personal profiles. This is why you’ve likely noticed an influx of group posts showing on your timeline. Facebook is making algorithmic changes as well as service changes to reflect this, and it is wholly expected.
Other changes in the July 31st update are in regards to intellectual property, privacy, ad targeting, and content violations, as it has come under fire many times in the past regarding just these items. Facebook is updating its terms to state the following:
Combat harmful conduct and protect and support our community: People will only build community onFacebook if they feel safe. We employ dedicated teams around the world and develop advanced technical systems to detect misuse of our Products, harmful conduct towards others, and situations where we may be able to help support or protect our community. If we learn of content or conduct like this, we will take appropriate action – for example, offering help, removing content, removing or restricting access to certain features [previously:blocking access to certain features], disabling an account, or contacting law enforcement. We share data with other Facebook Companies when we detect misuse or harmful conduct by someone using one of our Products.
Research ways to make our services better: We engage in research to develop, test, and improve our Products. This includes analyzing the data we have about our users and understanding how people use our Products, for example by conducting surveys and testing and troubleshooting new features. Our Data Policy explains how we use data to support this research for the purposes of developing and improving our services. [Previously: We engage in research and collaborate with others to improve our Products. One way we do this is by analyzing the data we have and understanding how people use our Products. You can learn more about some of our research efforts.]
An entire section was also added which explains how they use your data:
2. How our services are funded
Instead of paying to use Facebook and the other products and services we offer, by using the Facebook Products covered by these Terms, you agree that we can show you ads that businesses and organizations pay us to promote on and off the Facebook Company Products. We use your personal data, such as information about your activity and interests, to show you ads that are more relevant to you.
Protecting people’s privacy is central to how we’ve designed our ad system. This means that we can show you relevant and useful ads without telling advertisers who you are. We don’t sell your personal data. We allow advertisers to tell us things like their business goal, and the kind of audience they want to see their ads (for example, people between the age of 18-35 who like cycling). We then show their ad to people who might be interested.
We also provide advertisers with reports about the performance of their ads to help them understand how people are interacting with their content on and off Facebook. For example, we provide general demographic and interest information to advertisers (for example, that an ad was seen by a woman between the ages of 25 and 34 who lives in Madrid and likes software engineering) to help them better understand their audience. We don’t share information that directly identifies you (information such as your name or email address that by itself can be used to contact you or identifies who you are) unless you give us specific permission. Learn more about how Facebook ads work here.
We collect and use your personal data in order to provide the services described above to you. You can learn about how we collect and use your data in our Data Policy. You have controls over the types of ads and advertisers you see, and the types of information we use to determine which ads we show you. Learn more.
This replaces section 2 in the previous ToS:
2. Our Data Policy and Your Privacy Choices
To provide these services, we must collect and use your personal data. We detail our practices in the Data Policy, which you must agree to in order to use our Products.
We also encourage you to review the privacy choices you have in your settings.
1. Who can use Facebook
When people stand behind their opinions and actions, our community is safer and more accountable. For this [previously: that] reason, you must:
…We’ve [previously: we] previously disabled your account for violations of our Terms or Policies…
New information about account action on IPs:
You may not access or collect data from our Products using automated means (without our prior permission) or attempt to access data you do not have permission to access.
We can remove or restrict access to content that is in violation of these provisions.
We can remove content you share in violation of these provisions and, if applicable, we may take action against your account, for the reasons described below. We may also disable your account if you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights.
If we remove content that you have shared in violation of our Community Standards, we’ll let you know and explain any options you have to request another review, unless you seriously or repeatedly violate these Terms or if doing so may expose us or others to legal liability; harm our community of users; compromise or interfere with the integrity or operation of any of our services, systems or Products; where we are restricted due to technical limitations; or where we are prohibited from doing so for legal reasons. [Previously: We can remove content you share in violation of these provisions and, if applicable, we may take action against your account, for the reasons described below. We may also disable your account if you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights.]
Clarification on your rights over your own content:
Permission to use content you create and share: Some content that you share or upload, such as photos or videos, may be protected by intellectual property laws.
You own the intellectual property rights (things like copyright or trademarks) in any such content that you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook Company Products you use. Nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want. [Previously: You own the content you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook Products you use, and nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want.To provide our services, though, we need you to give us some legal permissions to use that content.]
However, to provide our services we need you to give us some legal permissions (known as a ‘license’) to use this content. This is solely for the purposes of providing and improving our Products and services as described in Section 1 above.
Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Facebook Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.
You can delete content individually or all at once by deleting your account. Learn more about how to delete your account. You can download a copy of your data at any time before deleting your account.
When you delete content, it’s no longer visible to other users, however it may continue to exist elsewhere on our systems where:
immediate deletion is not possible due to technical limitations (in which case, your content will be deleted within a maximum of 90 days from when you delete it);
your content has been used by others in accordance with this license and they have not deleted it (in which case this license will continue to apply until that content is deleted); or
where immediate deletion would restrict our ability to:
investigate or identify illegal activity or violations of our terms and policies (for example, to identify or investigate misuse of our Products or systems);
comply with a legal obligation, such as the preservation of evidence; or
comply with a request of a judicial or administrative authority, law enforcement or a government agency;
in which case, the content will be retained for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which it has been retained (the exact duration will vary on a case-by-case basis).
In each of the above cases, this license will continue until the content has been fully deleted. [Previously: You can end this license any time by deleting your content or account. You should know that, for technical reasons, content you delete may persist for a limited period of time in backup copies (though it will not be visible to other users). In addition, content you delete may continue to appear if you have shared it with others and they have not deleted it.]
This section has been removed entirely:
If you are under the age of eighteen (18), you represent that a parent or legal guardian also agrees to this section on your behalf. (This language is included pursuant to a court-approved legal settlement.)
And this has been updated to be more concise:
Permission to update software you use or download: If you download or use our software, you give us permission to download and install updates to the software where available.
[Previously: Permission to update software you use or download: If you download or use our software, you give us permission to download and install upgrades, updates, and additional features to improve, enhance, and further develop it.]
Account suspensions have been revised as well:
Account suspension or termination
We want Facebook to be a place where people feel welcome and safe to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas.
We want Facebook to be a place where people feel welcome and safe to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas.
If we determine that you have clearly, seriously or repeatedly breached our Terms or Policies, including in particular our Community Standards, we may suspend or permanently disable access to your account. We may also suspend or disable your account if you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights or where we are required to do so for legal reasons. [Previously: If we determine that you have violated our terms or policies, we may take action against your account to protect our community and services, including by suspending access to your account or disabling it. We may also suspend or disable your account if you create risk or legal exposure for us or when we are permitted or required to do so by law. Where appropriate, we will notify you about your account the next time you try to access it. You can learn more about what you can do if your account has been disabled.]
Where we take such action we’ll let you know and explain any options you have to request a review, unless doing so may expose us or others to legal liability; harm our community of users; compromise or interfere with the integrity or operation of any of our services, systems or Products; or where we are restricted due to technical limitations; or where we are prohibited from doing so for legal reasons.
You can learn more about what you can do if your account has been disabled and how to contact us if you think we have disabled your account by mistake.
As you can see there’s not a ton changing in the Terms of Service, just further clarification over certain items and grammatical changes.
So what gives? Where’d this information come from?
As far as we can tell, there’s a mishmosh of current data as well as heresay and what we like to call “tinfoil hat” predictions in here. Let’s look at a few line items:
All of these items are true as they are outlined in their titles, and have been for some time:
- The things we post on Facebook should create meaningful interactions. (Absolutely craft good content, don’t just paste in any old thing!)
- Teach readers to leave a reaction, not a LIKE. (This is good engagement! Do this!)
- Reduce the number of admins in the group. (You should do this to keep your group from spiraling out of control, not as a necessity)
- Create Group Rules within Facebook (not just pinned in the announcements or written in the ‘about’ section of the group). (You can see this live and happening now!)
- Link your group to your page. (You can see this live and happening now!)
- Be a conversation starter in groups. (This is good engagement! Do this!)
- Understand Facebook Community Standards (You should know what is or isn’t OK to be posted on Facebook!)
- Ads are targeting new avenues. (You can see this live and happening now!)
- Links in posts can be determined click-bait, or something that flags the Click Gap Signal. (You can see this live and happening now!)
- Groups deemed harmful on Facebook will be shut down. (You can see this live and happening now!)
- Don’t limit yourself to one platform. (This is GREAT advice!)
These items, as described by this author, are partially true:
- Contest, giveaways, and free downloads are being suppressed by Facebook.
- Sales posts on your page and in your group should be less than 20%.
- Facebook groups are the future.
- Facebook is tracking the link funnel.
- Facebook now has the ability to scan images for content that violates Community Standards.
There is no evidence to support the following as being true:
- Group Admins are responsible for all group activity.
- Negative ratings reflect poorly on the admin team.
- When members leave the group, they have the choice to take all of their content with them.
- You CANNOT tell users how to react.
- Going LIVE is no longer on Facebook’s radar as an organic algorithm piece.
- Sharing is not caring.
Partially True Information: In Detail
Contests & Giveaways
Let’s start with contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways, also called “Promotions”, are allowed on Facebook. For a while they were not allowed on Instagram, but they are allowed to be run on Facebook and connecting platforms as long as it is stated that it is not at all connected with Facebook in any way, shape, or form. Facebook does not want to be a “giveaway” platform, so of course it is not going to give top-notch space to contests and giveaways. They will be further down on the algorithm, if they rank at all.
However, free downloads are explicitly forbidden in the Facebook content guidelines. In fact, all digital content is barred, whether it’s for sale or for free. Take a look:
Subscriptions Or Digital Products
Posts may not promote the sale of downloadable digital content, digital subscriptions or digital accounts.
(Allowed) Authentic audio or video CDs, DVDs and Blu Ray
(Allowed) Digital devices, including Smartphones, video game consoles and TVs
(Not Allowed) Posts with downloadable content, including PDFs, music, games, movies, etc.
(Not Allowed) Digital accounts, including Netflix accounts or games accounts
(Not Allowed) Digital subscriptions and internet streaming services, including TV, Mobile, Netflix, Spotify, etc.
(Not Allowed) Digital coupons
Sales posts on your page or group should be less than 20%.
Not because Facebook says so, but because that’s the best way to create engaging content. No one wants to subscribe to a group where they’re being hounded to buy things. There is a reason ad blockers exist in the world, and people pay for no commercial TV. No one likes being harassed to buy things. Keep your sales posts limited, and keep the original content coming.
Facebook groups are the future
Facebook is placing more emphasis on the “community” feel and generating engagement (though given the experiences we’ve had with local community groups we don’t think this is the right direction to go!) through groups, so group posts are more than likely now front-and-center on your newsfeed. However, that doesn’t mean you need a group to go with your page. Let’s look:
Business example: Janie’s Gaming & Collectibles Shop
Is a group a good idea? Probably! If D&D sessions are held there, it might be a great way to rally players and get them amped up for the next game.
Business example: Carl’s Cleaning Company
Is a group a good idea? Probably not! Who is discussing what? Who is creating engaging content? Who is your target audience? Better stick to a page.
Facebook is tracking the link funnel
For example, we had a graphic designer who created a logo for a brand which had the word “Prescription” in it. It actually didn’t have anything to do with drugs or prescriptions, but because the terms “Prescription” and “Rx” were used, Facebook wouldn’t let us post the link. Once we removed those terms from the meta title and description, we were free to post it.
It’s important to note that unlike Google, Facebook does not actually crawl the information on your page aside from meta content and open graph data, so it’s important to carefully craft that content to the best of your ability. The fact that this post says people will be punished for review content is straight up incorrect. However, if you have a lot of review content, and it’s bad, you may be punished by Google instead.
Facebook now has the ability to scan images for content that violates Community Standards.
Facebook has had automated image scanning for some time. We put this in the “partially true” section because Facebook’s automated image detection software is straight up not good. It’s not as bad as Tumblr’s, but it’s still bad. We’ve had plenty of innocent images being flagged as “adult” when posting them as products or otherwise. This means the possibility of false positives is very high. If you post something and it gets flagged, just keep appealing it until they unflag it.
There is nothing inside of the current or new version of Facebook’s Community Standards or Terms of Service to support these bits of information.
Group Admins are responsible for all group activity
This is untrue. Group admins are responsible for monitoring and removing posts within their own group. They are responsible for the activity in the group, this is true, but they are not responsible for the content an individual may post. For example, if a member posts hate speech, it’s up to both the group admin as well as Facebook to remove the offending post. A group admin will likely remove the post before Facebook can get to it. This does not mean that the group admin suddenly has responsibility over the content of that post. You are responsible for the content you post. Whether or not you get banned from a group or even Facebook as a whole is the responsibility of group admins and Facebook.
Negative ratings reflect poorly on the admin team
The big thing in here is that the post says “angry” or “sad” reacts are poor reviews/negative ratings. Reactions are engagement features, and are usually always reacting to the content of the post. These do not have any bearing on whether or not your group is good or bad (think of a rescue that posts a puppy they found and all of the angry/sad reacts that come in on that because of the condition of the puppy). Everything boils down to content in the group, and how Facebook is going to shut down hateful or derogatory groups, as they have done in the past.
When members leave the group, they have the choice to take all of their content with them
This is untrue. If you leave a group, all of your content stays within the group, however it will show you are no longer a member of the group. However, if you delete your account on Facebook, after a period of time, all of your content will be removed globally across Facebook.
You CANNOT tell users how to react
Yes, you can. Should you? Maybe not. It depends! But directing people where to go is helpful. If you’re making a post about something you’re selling, you’ll want to direct a person to how they can buy it from you. This is a lot like a call to action on your post.
Instead of saying “comment how you feel”, ask them probing questions like “which of these do you like the best?” to generate engagement. One is certainly a lot more organic feeling than the other!
Going LIVE is no longer on Facebook’s radar as an organic algorithm piece
It really never has been! Though going Live is a great addition to the full suite of services. You should take advantage of going Live if only because people will get notifications if you do (if they haven’t opted out of them) which may help you generate more engagement.
Sharing is not caring
This is one of the most offensive parts of this post. This author states that sharing from your page to your personal timeline violates the Terms of Service (it does not) and you are at risk of having your account shutdown. This is blatantly untrue. If this were the case, think about all of the individuals who share business page posts and how many accounts Facebook would be shutting down.
Facebook does not want you to sell things from your personal timeline, or conduct business that way. They have stated this many times across their community standards and more. Your personal timeline is supposed to be true and personal, not for business usage. The reason is simple: people sign up on Facebook to keep up-to-date with family members and friends. Facebook imposes algorithmic limitations on business pages so business promotions don’t clutter up your newsfeed when you want to know the latest about Tom and Sally. Plus, business pages have an array of awesome features that can help your business be the best, including CTAs, coupons, product catalogues, and a ton of other cool things.
Still, this does not mean you can’t share the latest thing you did at your business. That defeats the purpose of Facebook, doesn’t it? Resharing your own content is found by many to be a helpful way to drum up some engagement where you need it — but even then reshares are subject to algorithmic changes, so perhaps keep the reshares to a minimum.
The Big Takeaway
Don’t believe everything you read, especially if it is unverified. Facebook values original content above all else and wants to be viewed as a platform where people can connect and have meaninful experiences, not be throwing into an ad-laden site with things trying to be sold to them all the time. Try to focus on generating good content and engaging with your audience, always always!
What are your best suggestions for using Facebook in 2019? Let us know in the comments below!