You, like most users, have probably lost count of the number of updates Facebook has performed since its launch in 2004. The platform is continuously growing and changing, and its functionality is also very different than it was at its inception. With Facebook constantly altering its platform, brands and communications professionals are adapting, and users are changing their preferences. With the launch of a new app, an unexpected purchase and new changes constantly on the horizon, Facebook continues to challenge its users – many of whom are PR pros – to reinvent and understand its best uses.
In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five”– an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at the latest news surrounding Facebook. Facebook’s $2 billion purchase, an argument validating the platform’s interest in virtual reality, how to (and how to not) use hashtags on Facebook and the platform’s new strategy to prevent oversharing are all covered in this week’s post. We also look at the ins and outs of Facebook Paper.
Is Facebook Too Big to Care? (New York Times)
Facebook is continuously changing and evolving, as a platform and a company, and its latest announcement follows that trend. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook will pay “more than $2 billion in cash and stock to buy Oculus VR, a start-up that has spent years developing a virtual reality headset that is still far from ready for public release.” The purchase was followed with a seven percent drop in stock due to quick decision to use real money to purchase a currently virtual product.
With so many changes, some of which aren’t well received, brands and users alike are beginning to doubt the platform, and some are even shutting down. The online ordering service, Eat24, drafted a “breakup letter to Facebook,” coinciding with its announcement that it will be deleting its account. According to the article, “the biggest complaint: Facebook has changed its algorithms over the last couple of years to highlight more posts by individuals and bury posts from brands — unless, of course, a brand wants to pay for ads to promote its posts.” For more about the “breakup letter,” and for Facebook’s response, visit the article.
While Facebook’s decision to acquire Oculus is facing some skepticism, it does have supporters: developers. Many developers are claiming that “their work has been validated with the $2 billion sale.” Most of the questions about the purchase stem from the fact that Facebook isn’t a gaming company. In response, the article highlights that virtual reality can potentially work as a communication platform, and that this “huge budget” can inspire “innovation forwards in environments other than gaming.”
Danfung Dennis, the director of the first Oculus Rift virtual reality movie, explains, “Facebook’s acquisition validates the vision that we are on the verge of the next major platform shift in computing. It’s clear that it’s no longer a question of if virtual reality will happen, it’s just a matter of when. And when it does emerge, it will fundamentally transform entertainment and communication.” Learn more about Facebook’s move into virtual reality via the article.
Hashtags are a go-to for many social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, but they’re proving to work against users posting them on Facebook. A recent study done by Socialbakers shows that overuse of hashtags can hurt your brand. In the study, 200,000 brand posts were sampled and the relationship between interactions and number of hashtags were assessed.
According to the article, “Posts that use one or two hashtags see more interactions per post (593) than those that incorporate more hashtags. Use 10 or more hashtags in a single post, and that number drops to 188 interactions.” Socialbakers also offers additional hashtag advice: “Keep your Tweets, Posts, Instagrams, and Vines on a spare hashtag diet, and you’ll be just fine.” Visit the article for more about hashtags on Facebook.
Facebook Suddenly Cares If You’re Oversharing (Huffington Post)
Facebook has found a way to make its privacy settings less confusing. Some Facebook users have recently received prompts from the platform about their sharing preferences. When these users attempted to share their posts publicly, they received a message offering to send the public message to friends, to send publically anyway or other to send to other options. This new prompt is an attempt to prevent Facebook users from oversharing. The platform has been criticized for its complex privacy settings, and the new notifications offer users simple, post-specific settings.
According to the article, “Facebook members have the option of sharing their posts publicly with the entire Internet or more narrowly with only Facebook friends or groups of Facebook friends. But often, people post status updates and photos without really knowing which privacy settings they chose, since those settings are notoriously difficult to understand.” The new messaging offers more information to help users share with their intended audience. For more information about sharing on Facebook, and the new notifications, visit the article.
Facebook has made another improvement – this time in the form of a new mobile app. Facebook Paper is a “standalone,” “image-heavy” app that took 30 months to build. The app features “a restructured news feed and multiple reading sections intended to surface new content on Facebook.” Paper allows users to browse both news and posts from their Facebook friends, and it offers “a more accurate and visual representation” of posts.
The look of the Paper app is clean and user-friendly. Photos appear as large, high-quality images with accompanying simple story titles. According to the article, “On Paper, users can flip between sections they choose to follow, like tech or sports or food; the app surfaces relevant articles from Facebook. One of these sections is the news feed, and users can post to their Facebook profile from within the app.” Visit the article to learn more about Facebook Paper.
Faith Goumas is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.