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What Do Facebook Changes Mean for Arts Communicators?

The new Facebook profile

As we all have no doubt heard by now, Facebook is launching some major updates to the site.

Some of these changes are already being implemented; the others were previewed at the recent f8 conference and will be released in the coming weeks.

Many arts organizations have come to integrate Facebook and other social media channels as important parts of their overall communications plans.

While it’s too early at this point to accurately comment on the impact, if any, these Facebook updates will have for arts communicators (marketers, advocates, thought leaders, and the like), it’s worth at least some preliminary thoughts.

1. The new ticker feed could be a double-edged sword.

One of the hurdles for arts communicators to overcome when using Facebook is the algorithm which powers the news feed on the homepage. Facebook only displays updates from individuals and organizations that the user has interacted with recently or frequently. Thus, while an arts organization’s Facebook page may have several hundred fans, it’s possible that only a fraction of them are actually seeing the content that is posted.

From what I see with the new ticker feed is updates from everyone on my friends list. This means that updates from our arts organizations may get some additional visibility, though users can choose to hide our updates.

2. Facebook is the only site anyone needs.

This one is a bit of an exaggeration, but the new version of Facebook will allow users to get updates from many major news organizations. Coupled with new features like Timeline, which take the photo album aspect of Facebook to new limits, it’s conceivable that users will spend more and more time on the site, as more and more of the internet is brought through this one channel. This means our supporters and potential supporters may be spending more time there as well.

3. Content will still be king.

At the end of the day, all the new features of Facebook depend to some degree on the willingness of the users to, well, use them. While there has been some initial outcry that it’s all too much, chances are users will decide how to best use or not use these features for themselves. This is why content still remains supreme. We as arts communicators need to be putting up content that drives engagement. If anything, these new updates may make Facebook even more social, meaning that we really need to be telling a compelling story online that our fans will want to share with their friends to help spread the word.

As the new Facebook updates are rolled out over the coming weeks, there is bound to be a mix of excitement, confusion, and irritation on the part of the users. Some of these updates will no doubt become very popular while others may find themselves being quietly phased out.

For arts communicators, we need to stay abreast of these changes and adjust our strategies accordingly.

While Facebook may not yet be the only website you ever need, it is without a doubt one of the most popular sites out there, which continues to make it a powerful channel for communication.

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