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Oxfam Suspended From Working In Haiti Amid Exploitation Scandal

<img src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5a8f36591e000046057ac8f9.jpeg&quot; data-caption="The suspension will be for two months” alt=”The suspension will be for two months” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34996298″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”/>

Oxfam Great Britain has been suspended in Haiti pending an investigation into how the charity handled the case of former staff paying for sex.

The aid group said senior members of staff met officials from the Haiti government on Thursday and pledged their commitment to cooperating with the probe.

The two-month suspension comes after charity chiefs revealed Oxfam has received 26 allegations of misconduct since the Haiti sex scandal erupted two weeks ago.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said 16 of the claims stemmed from abroad, while ten came from the UK.

Giving evidence to the Commons International Development Committee earlier this week, Goldring said around 7,000 people have cancelled regular donations to Oxfam over the past 10 days, adding that corporate sponsors appeared to be “reserving judgment”.

Goldring publicly apologised for the actions of charity staff who sexually exploited female victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The parliamentary hearing and suspension comes in the wake of the news of resignations and dismissals of Oxfam staff in Haiti following allegations of “sex parties” involving prostitutes.

<img src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5a8f38cc2000008806eafb64.jpeg&quot; data-caption="Mark Goldring at the select committee hearing” alt=”Mark Goldring at the select committee hearing” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.35104986″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”/>

He also revealed that 7,000 individuals have cancelled their regular donation to Oxfam over the last ten days while corporate sponsors were “reserving judgment.”

Goldring also had to apologise for having played down the accusations of sexual abuse in Haiti by Oxfam staff when he said at least they had not “murdered babies”.

“I do apologise. I was under stress, I’d given many interviews, I’d made many decisions to try to lead Oxfam’s response to this. I was thinking about amazing work I’ve seen Oxfam do across the world, most recently with refugees coming from Myanmar,” he said.

On Thursday, Oxfam GB said: “The government of Haiti announced today that it will suspend Oxfam Great Britain’s operation in the country for two months, while it investigates how Oxfam GB handled the case of former staff having paid for sex during the agency’s humanitarian response in 2011.

“Oxfam International Regional Director Simon Ticehurst and Oxfam Intermon Executive Affiliate Unit head Margalida Massot met government officials today and committed to cooperate with their investigation.

“Oxfam has apologised to the Haitian government and people for abuses by former staff that occurred in 2011.

“Oxfam is committed to putting in place a number of wide-sweeping initiatives to improve its global safeguarding policies and practices, including the establishment of an independent Commission and putting more staff and resources into its safeguarding teams.”

Oxfam will continue working on construction and development projects in Haiti, helping people through other affiliate members, but anticipates that Oxfam GB’s temporary suspension will have a significant impact on its work.

The charity helps 750,000 people in Haiti.

Oxfam’s annual programme budget is 13 million euros, of which Oxfam GB contributes 3.2 million euros.

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Why LinkedIn Groups Can Be Great for Businesses (and How to Create a Successful One)

LinkedIn Groups do not have a great reputation. Many of them are filled with self-promotion and spam rather than valuable discussions and meaningful interactions. Hence, it can be easy to turn down the idea of creating a one for your business. “It wouldn’t work.”

While it is true that there are few good LinkedIn Groups, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful for all businesses. With the shift in social media usage in the recent years, closed communities such as Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups might be the next best way to engage your audience.

In this post, we’ll explore why your business should have a LinkedIn Group and how to create and manage a successful group.

Read on to find out more.

Why LinkedIn Groups Are Great and How to Build a Successful One

Why LinkedIn Groups

If you’re still wondering if LinkedIn Groups are useful for your business, I hope the following reasons can convince you of its importance and power.

First, social media as we know it is changing. There’s a significant shift from simply broadcasting marketing messages to engaging fans. Instead of building huge public pages, more and more businesses are opting for niche closed communities. This shift is also encouraged by changes on major social media platforms such as Facebook, where meaningful content in groups is given priority over public content.

LinkedIn has also announced that they will be improving the LinkedIn Group experience, which is “at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another”1.

LinkedIn Groups changes

Second, LinkedIn usage is growing. While Facebook and Instagram had received the attention of most marketers (including ourselves) in 2017, LinkedIn has steadily grown its user base to more than 500 million members.

And unlike Facebook and Instagram, people on LinkedIn are there to further their professional network, build their personal brand, and increase their industry knowledge. This makes communities like LinkedIn Groups a great way for bringing your customers together, especially if you are a business-to-business (B2B) company.

LinkedIn Membership growth

Finally, LinkedIn Groups has powerful community management features that are not available on other social media platforms. For example, LinkedIn sends a daily or weekly digest of all activities in the group to your members to keep them updated and engaged. You can also send an admin announcement email to your members once a week – an email that’ll sit in their inbox, not a notification in the app.

LinkedIn Group announcement example

If these reasons are convincing enough for you, if you have the resources, and if you want to learn more about creating and managing a LinkedIn Group, let’s dive in further.

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How to create a successful LinkedIn Group

1. Pick a topic that your customers care about

A Group, however, should be focused around a topic that has a natural connection to your brand and less on directly promoting your brand or company. People should join the group because they are interested in the topic, not your company. Over time, the audience will create a natural connection with the topic and your brand, through an earned connection, which is much more valuable.

– Charlie Lowe at Social@Ogilvy

HubSpot’s LinkedIn Group is about inbound marketing; Content Marketing Institute’s LinkedIn Group is about content marketing. They focused not on their own brand but on topics that their customers care about.

Your customers might be interested in discussing your products with fellow customers. They are, however, likely to be more interested in the wider topic instead. For example, if we had a LinkedIn Group, members would likely be more keen to discuss how to improve their social media marketing than chat about how to use Buffer.

Having a topic that your customers care about will not only attract them to be part of your LinkedIn Group. It will also help keep the conversations in the group focused and make it easier for you and your team to manage the group.

Here are some questions to help you decide on your group topic:

  • What are your goals for the community?
  • What conversations would be useful to your customers?
  • What are some questions that your customers often ask you?
  • What are the common topics that your brand is related to?

2. Create your LinkedIn Group

Once you’ve decided on your topic, the next step is to create your group on LinkedIn.

Creating a LinkedIn group is as simple as filling out a form. Navigate to your LinkedIn Groups and click on “Create group”. Or you can use this direct link if you’re logged in: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/create.

Here are the fields to fill out:

  • Group title
  • Group logo
  • Description
  • Group rules (optional but highly recommended)
  • Group membership (standard or unlisted)

Create a LinkedIn Group

One aspect that I would recommend focusing on is the group rules. Your group rules will help your members understand what’s encouraged and what’s not. Having your groups rules stated explicitly will also make it easier for you to manage your group and moderate conversations.

Here’s an example by Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group:

Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group rules

It might sound harsh that they would “delete any discussion submission which includes a link to posts and articles or are a promotion of services” and “Members who repeatedly submit links will be removed from the group.” From my personal experience, having such rules and enforcing them seem to be the key difference between a LinkedIn Group with meaningful discussions and one that is filled with spam and links.

 

If you want to check out more group rules for reference, I thought Search Engine LandStep Into The Spotlight!, and Lean Startup Circle have pretty good group rules. (You’ll have to join the groups to see the rules.)

3. Set up message templates

One handy feature of LinkedIn Groups is its message templates. You can create custom messages that would be automatically sent to people interested in joining your LinkedIn Group. This is a great opportunity to let your brand tone shine. If you do not create a custom message, LinkedIn will send its default message accordingly.

Here are the various message templates:

  1. Request-to-join Message (to people who requested to join your group)
  2. Welcome Message (to people whom you have approved their membership in your group)
  3. Decline Message (to people whom you have declined their request to join your group)
  4. Decline and Block Message (to people whom you have declined their request and want to block any further requests)

To access this setting, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Templates” on the left. Then, click on “Create Template” for the ones you want to customize. Here’s how customizing the template looks like:

Customize message templates

Here’s an example of how a custom welcome message email looks like (the message is in the middle section while the other two sections are automatically generated, I believe):

LinkedIn Group custom welcome message

If you would like interested people to fill out an application form to join the group, you could include an application form in your request-to-join message, like HubSpot did:

LinkedIn Group application

This way, you can ensure that only people that fit your target persona or people who are really interested would join your LinkedIn Group.

4. Invite your connections and grow your group

To help ensure that your LinkedIn Group remains a trusted place for you and your members to gather, you can now invite only people whom you’re connected to on LinkedIn.

To invite your connections, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Invited Users” on the left.

Invite your connections

If you have other marketing channels, such as other social media profiles, email, or a blog, you could use them to promote your new LinkedIn Group. Alternatively, you could also share your LinkedIn Group on your personal LinkedIn profile and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Here are a few more ideas from LinkedIn on promoting your group:

  1. Optimize and edit your group information to include keywords that prospective members are likely to search for.
  2. Encourage group members to invite people.
  3. Advertise your group with LinkedIn Ads by clicking the Advertising link at the bottom of any LinkedIn page.

It might be tempting to think that the bigger your group is, the better it would be. Before you go about growing your group, here’s a thought to consider: many of the largest LinkedIn Groups have over a million members and are often filled with just links. It’s often the smaller groups with proper moderation that have meaningful discussions. (LinkedIn has now limited the number of members in a group to 20,0002.)

5. Start discussions and be active

This step and the next are the most crucial ones, which will influence how well your LinkedIn Group becomes. You ready?

Once you’ve created your LinkedIn Group and invited your connections, your group would likely still feel very empty. Members might not post anything if there aren’t any posts in the group (or they might just start sharing links <img src="http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72×72/1f648.png&quot; alt="

Millennial Couples Making ‘Heart-Breaking’ Family Decisions Because Of Housing Market

A significant number of millennial couples are putting off having children or growing their families because they are renting properties and don’t own their own homes, according to a new report.

The study by housing charity, Shelter, also found a huge drop in home ownership rates amongst the demographic, down 18 percent from just ten years ago.

Meanwhile the number privately renting has increased 115 percent and of those, 38 percent have said it is stopping them having children.

Polly Neate, Shelter Chief Executive, said: “It’s heart-breaking that so many young couples are putting their lives on hold simply because they can’t offer a stable life to a child in a privately rented home.

“Short, unstable contracts and the high cost of renting mean that many private renters simply don’t have the security they need to settle down and start a family.

“With the number of private renters growing in this country, the government must build more genuinely affordable homes for rent and give people stronger rights – so they can build a brighter future for them and their loved ones.”

There is good news for millennials but it comes with a catch – they are in line for the biggest “inheritance boom” of any post-war generation, but it will be too late to solve the housing crisis or wealth chasm between generations.

A report last year by the influential think tank the Resolution Foundation said wealth accumulated by older people would benefit younger generations in years to come.

But the most common age at which millennials’ – those born between 1981 and 2000 –  inherit would be 61, because of their parents’ vastly improved life expectancy.

Inheritances are set to double over the next 20 years, the Foundation said, as so-called baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1965 – become older.

DWP’s ‘Unpleasant’ Valentine’s Day Tweet Is Exceptionally Mis-Judged, People Think

Love is in the air, but what you can smell right now is the Department for Work and Pensions stinking out the room.

At least that’s the collective view on social media after the Whitehall department in charge of benefits decided to mark Valentine’s Day with a welfare crackdown.

Here’s the gift the Esther McVey-run DWP offered less than loved-up couples: the prospect of jail-time.

Claiming to be living alone is one of the most common types of benefit fraud – don’t ruin #ValentinesDay by failing to declare your true circumstances https://t.co/tZuNYZ5fer pic.twitter.com/ahutOO6NUy

February 13, 2018

Against the backdrop of a huge pink heart, a video reads: “Declaring your true love tomorrow? Don’t forget to declare your true living arrangements too.

“Don’t get separated from your Valentine. Tell us of a change now.”

The tweet links to a story run on the Daily Express’s website under the headline: “Valentine’s fraud WARNING: Crackdown issued on couples who pose as single to cheat taxman”.

Among a series of examples, the piece points to a married Leicester woman who “raked in” £83,370 in benefits by falsely claiming she was a single, unemployed mother-of-two while still living with her husband for one or two nights-a-week. She was handed a 15-month suspended sentence.

It quotes James Blake, of the DWP’s Counter Fraud and Compliance Directorate, saying: “Relationships have their ups and downs but not telling us when your circumstances change is a crime and the shameless few involved are deliberating diverting money away from those who really need it.

“True love may be hard to come-by but benefits cheats aren’t difficult to track down.

“Our fraud investigators are committed to bringing criminals to justice.”

But commentators suggested the Valentine-themed campaign was perhaps a little tone-deaf.

A strong entry here from the DWP for the most ill-judged Valentine-related social media campaign award. https://t.co/z611lCAPIz

Exceptionally cynical and unpleasant tweet. Truly a nadir in DWP comms. What on earth were they thinking? https://t.co/KO6LFFcCJx

“Happy Valentines Day you lonely, lawbreaking shits” https://t.co/6tt2hZjik7

Roses are red violets are blue There’s literally nothing that the DWP won’t do https://t.co/gn6M9pgRWU

Roses are red Violets are blue We fell into my bed But I didn’t declare you#aintnoloveatthedwp https://t.co/2FznMhjjUx

Roses are red Violets are blue Tell us the truth Or we’ll prosecute you ❤️ https://t.co/tSR6LJPLIK

Don’t forget that if you are alone on #ValentinesDay you can always get screwed by the DWP…

10 Ways Universities Can Use Facebook to Market to and Connect With Students

When I was in university two years ago, Facebook was already intertwined with student life.

We heard about news and events through Facebook Pages and collaborated on group work through Facebook Groups. After graduating, I’ve been getting updates about the university through the alumni Facebook Page. Nowadays, it’s also common for prospective students to research on Facebook when deciding their university and course.

With Facebook being a part and parcel of university students’ lives, there are many things that social media teams at universities can do to market the university, engage students, and stay in touch with alumni.

Here are just some ideas I’ve found through my research that you can implement for your university…

Facebook for Universities: 10 Creative Ideas for Social Media Managers

10 Facebook ideas for universities that want to be social

1. Share news, achievements, and milestones

A great, easy way to get started with using Facebook for your university is to share news about the university, such as achievements of students and professors and milestones of the university. This way, prospective, present, and past students can stay up-to-date with the happenings in the university while they are on Facebook.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shares about an average of one post every weekday (which is a great frequency to begin with).

MIT Facebook post

If you want to go one step further, you could list the milestones of the university on the Facebook Page’s About section, like the University of Cambridge did. They listed their key milestones all the way back to 1209 when the university was founded.

University of Cambridge milestones

To list a milestone on your university’s Facebook Page, click on the three dots below the Page cover photo and select “Create Milestone”.

Create a milestone on Facebook Page

A popup will appear for you to fill out the details of the milestone, expand on the story, and add relevant photos. If you want to celebrate this milestone with your Page fans, you can leave the “Hide from News Feed” checkbox unchecked and hit “Save”. The milestone will be added to your Page and shared on its timeline.

Facebook Page milestone popup

2. Collect reviews from current and past students

Besides websites such as The Student Room and the UCAS, prospective students are also using social media to research their university options. They join Facebook Groups of the courses they are interested in, speak with current students, and check out reviews of the universities.

Facebook provides a section for you to collect reviews and ratings from current and past students, where you can also react or comment on the reviews. And yes, it’s important to respond to reviews, especially if it’s an unhappy comment.

A university that does this well is the University of Southern Queensland (Australia). They have garnered over 500 reviews and are rated 4.4 stars out of 5.

University of Southern Queensland Facebook reviews

To turn on the review section for your Facebook Page, navigate to “Settings” > “Edit Page” > “Tabs”. Besides “Reviews”, click on “Settings”, toggle the “Show Reviews” option, and hit “Save”.

Facebook review section settings

3. Provide virtual tours for prospective students

Another thing that prospective students might be keen on is checking out the university campus. Virtual tours via social media is a great way to let them explore your beautiful campus, especially for international students who are not able to fly over for the university’s open day.

Thanks to Facebook Live, you can even take them on a live, interactive tour around the campus. For example, two graduates at the University of Sussex did a Facebook Live tour of their campus and replied to questions via the comments.

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Funiofsussex%2Fvideos%2F10156206044601754%2F&show_text=1&width=560

You don’t need any expensive or fancy equipment to do this. All you need is a smartphone, Facebook Live, and a few passionate students who are interested in showing people around, like Steph and Matt.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also virtual tours that are created using virtual reality technology. The virtual tour can then be added to your Facebook Page, like how Yale University did.

Yale University VR campus tour

4. Use Messenger to answer inquiries

In the past, emails and phone calls are the most common ways of contacting universities. With the rise of social media and messaging apps, Facebook Messenger opened up another communication channel between universities and students.

For example, Harvard University has a “Send Message” call-to-action on their Facebook Page. According to the Facebook, the Harvard University team typically replies to messages instantly.

Harvard University Facebook Messenger

If you are unable to check your Page’s messages regularly throughout your workday, you could use Facebook’s Response Assistant to set up automated greetings and replies to let students know that you’ll get back to them soon. You can find this under your Page “Settings” > “Messaging”.

Facebook Page Response Assistant

5. Welcome and bring new students together

Starting university life can be quite scary to many. It can be worse if you do not know anyone else going to the same university as you. So many universities create Facebook Groups for new students to ask questions, interact with one another, and get information about events and activities.

For example, the University of California, Davis creates a new Facebook group for every batch of new students at the university, which is managed by a group of administrators from their marketing and communications team.

UC Davis Freshman Facebook Group

Such groups can allow new students to connect and interact with one another even before the university term starts. After the term has started, you can use this group to inform students about events and activities happening on the campus.

It’s also common to have Facebook Groups for the various degrees and residence halls. For example, the Student Union at the University of Warwick sets up an official Facebook Group for every hall annually so that students living in the same hall can get to know one another better and organize activities via the group.

University of Warwick Hall Facebook Groups

If you would like to create Facebook Groups for the students in your university, here’s our guide to help you get started.

6. Curate student-generated content

Beside sharing news and announcements from the university, you could also share photos and videos taken by students. This not only gives prospective students a view of the university from current students’ perspectives but also engages current students by featuring them on the university’s Facebook Page. How cool would that be!

For instance, the social media team at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) started a hashtag campaign, #CalPolyNow, to help share students’ voices and photos. Students would use the hashtags while posting on Instagram, and the team would re-post selected photos on the university Instagram account and cross-post some on their Facebook Page (with permission).

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCaliforniaPolytechnic%2Fposts%2F10156353018369367&width=500

If you feel that the students in your university are more active on Instagram, you could also link to the university’s Instagram account from the Facebook Page. Using Facebook apps such as Instatab or Instagram Page App, you can add your Instagram gallery to your Facebook Page for free. Here’s an example by Cal Poly:

Cal Poly Facebook Instagram Feed

Alternatively, you could curate Instagram posts taken by students and compile them into a Facebook photo album, like Brigham Young University did.

Brigham Young University student-generated content

7. Offer career advice and support

Not every student would know how to plan their career. I certainly didn’t know when I was in university. Thankfully, many universities now offer career planning advice and support. Facebook is a great way to spread these helpful resources to the student body.

For example, the Student Careers & Skills at the University of Warwick has a Facebook Page, where they share career advice and inform students of relevant career fairs and events.

University of Warwick Student Careers and Skills

(Fun fact: Our CEO Joel Gascoigne and I both went to the University of Warwick!)

8. Organize and promote university events

With Facebook, you can also easily organize and market events at your university. Instead of having to create a new website for an event, you can simply create an event page on Facebook, where you can state the date, time, venue, and details of the event.

For example, Imperial College London regularly uses Facebook to promote events at their university.

Imperial College London events

An additional advantage is that Facebook would help you spread the word about your events. When students indicate that they are going to an event, Facebook would show that to their friends either on their News Feed or via notifications. This can help attract more people to your events.

You could go one step further by boosting your event on Facebook (as in advertising it on Facebook). Once you have created your event page on Facebook, there’s a “Boost Event” button that’ll allow you to advertise your event. Here’s more information about creating an event ad on Facebook.

Facebook promote event

9. Create sub-Facebook Pages

If you were to search “uc berkeley” on Facebook, you’ll see not one but more than 50 Facebook Pages. There’s the main UC Berkeley Facebook Page but there’s also one for the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, one for the UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, and many more.

UC Berkeley Facebook Pages

Every university is so diverse with many different departments, societies, and clubs. And each has its own unique set of audience. Rather than having one Facebook Page for the entire university, it’ll be more appropriate (and more fun) to have a Facebook Page for each group.

Of course, you do not have to manage every one of them as long as there’s someone within each group that is willing to. As the marketing team for the university, it’ll be great to lay out some guidelines or offer advice to the “marketer” in each group.

You can also give them an awareness boost by featuring them on the university’s main Facebook Page. If you like the Pages with the main Facebook Page, you can feature them by going to “Settings” > “Featured” and selecting which Pages you want to feature.

UC Berkeley featured Pages

To like another Page, click on the three dots below their cover photo and then “Like As Your Page”, and select the Page you want to like as.

Facebook Like As Your Page

10. Connect with alumni through Facebook Pages or Groups

We’ve talked a lot about marketing to prospective students and engaging current students. But staying in touch with the alumni is important, too. Alumni can help graduates jump-start their career and contribute through volunteering and fundraising.

For instance, Stanford University has several alumni Facebook Pages. On their main alumni Facebook Page, they share stories about their alumni and reminisce about the Stanford history.

Stanford Alumni Facebook Page

Over to you: What other ideas for you have?

Most students are on Facebook and are using Facebook Groups and Messenger to collaborate and communicate with one another. So Facebook is increasingly becoming an important channel for social media teams at universities to market, engage, and stay in touch with students. (The same can also be said for other social media networks such as Instagram and Twitter.)

As a recap, here are the 10 ideas I’ve found through my research and from my personal experience at university:

  1. Share news, achievements, and milestones
  2. Collect reviews from current and past students
  3. Provide virtual tours for prospective students
  4. Use Messenger to answer inquiries
  5. Welcome and bring new students together
  6. Curate student-generated content
  7. Offer career advice and support
  8. Organize and promote university events
  9. Create sub-Facebook Pages
  10. Connect with alumni through Facebook Pages or Groups

What other cool ideas can you think of that social media managers at universities can try? Are there anything special that you do at your university? It’ll be great to hear from you!

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about social media at universities, you might like our podcast interview with Nikki Sunstrum, Director of Social Media at the University of Michigan.

The awesome featured image above is by Jason Leung, taken from Unsplash.

The New Facebook Algorithm: Secrets Behind How It Works and What You Can Do To Succeed

The Facebook algorithm is constantly evolving in order to provide a better experience for users.

But few changes to the algorithm have sparked as much interest and conversation as the recent ‘meaningful interactions’ update, in which Facebook said it would be prioritizing posts that create meaningful conversations, especially those from family and friends.

The reaction to this update was one of curiosity and worry from brands, publishers, and Facebook Page managers, wondering whether or not their organic reach would once again take a hit, causing them to reach an even smaller percentage of their audience on Facebook.

We were lucky enough to get an inside look at the brand new Facebook algorithm for 2018, directly from an exclusive News Feed webinar for publishers (thanks to Matt Navarra and Ned Berke).

Here’s everything we know about how the Facebook algorithm works and what marketers and brands can do to thrive on Facebook in 2018.

Let’s dive in!

The New Facebook Algorithm 2018: How It Works and What Brands Can Do To Succeed

How the Facebook algorithm and News Feed works (2018)

When a user visits Facebook, there are thousands of potential posts that might be displayed in their News Feed. The sophisticated algorithm takes these posts and arranges them according to how likely the user would be to interact with the content.

That’s the basic theory, at least. Let’s take an even deeper look.

In the recent Facebook News Feed webinar, their team broke the algorithm down into four, very simple components:

  • Inventory (content available)
  • Signals (considerations about content)
  • Predictions (considerations about person)
  • Overall Score

These four key algorithm factors serve the sole purpose of providing Facebook users with a better overall experience.

Signals are what we as brands and marketers can focus on in order to have our content seen by more users on the Facebook News Feed.

Previously, Facebook used all sorts of signals to determine which posts would be shown to users:

Facebook Algorithm and News Feed Update (Overview)

Now, the algorithm will use signals that heavily favor “active” interactions such as comments and shares:

Facebook Algorithm and News Feed Update (Important)

One reason why Facebook will be prioritizing posts from family and friends over public content from Pages is that they believe a person-to-person connection is more valuable than a person-to-page connection.

In other words, content from friends and family tends to spark more “active” engagement from users.

As Alaura Weaver writes in her Medium article on the importance of story-driven content, “Instead of focusing on what makes content popular and attention-grabbing, we need to focus on what makes content personal and conversation-worthy.”

Understanding each of the top signals and ranking factors in the Facebook algorithm is the first step in creating content that ranks well.

Top ranking factors in the Facebook algorithm

When considering the types of content that Facebook will favor in the News Feed moving forward, it’s important to distinguish between “active” and “passive” interactions.

Active interactions such as sharing, commenting, and reacting will hold much more weight than “passive” interactions such as clicking, viewing, or hovering.

Passive vs. Active Interactions

Let’s take a look at each active interaction in a bit more detail.

1.  Commenting

The signal at the very top of the new Facebook algorithm in 2018 is comments.

As Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, wrote in a January press release:

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook–in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”

However, it’s important to clarify that using “engagement bait” to goad people into commenting will actually result in a demotion of your posts in the News Feed.

Facebook Tag and Comment Baiting

Facebook Page admins should continue to focus on posting relevant and meaningful stories that do not use engagement bait tactics. More on that later in the post!

2. Sharing

Directly behind commenting in the new Facebook algorithm for 2018 is sharing.

In the graphic above on “signals” you might have noticed that Facebook mentions two types of sharing:

  • People sharing links or content within Messenger
  • Engagement with a publisher post shared by a friend

In other words, Facebook is placing a great deal of emphasis on posts that are shared publicly as well as privately.

The other key thing to notice here is that it’s no longer enough just to have someone share your post. Facebook will now favor shared posts that spark conversations among friends.

For example, if I share a post from Buffer’s Facebook Page and my friends start to comment on my shared post within the feed, then that post will continue to be shown to other people, increasing the post’s reach.

But if I share a post from Buffer’s Page and it receives no comments (or reactions) from my friends, then Buffer’s post will begin to be demoted in the News Feed.

Reactions, Comments, and Shares Importanct on Facebook

Keep a close eye on those shares moving forward!

3. Reacting

The third main signal that Facebook will factor into their algorithm moving forward is reactions. 

While not as strong as comments or shares, reactions remain a form of “active engagement” that will help brands’ posts reach more people within the News Feed.

We can’t expect everyone to share or comment on posts and so reactions are a great tertiary way for Facebook to judge the quality of the content. And according to Mark Zuckerberg in a recent Facebook post, quality is a crucial piece moving forward:

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos - even if they’re entertaining or informative - may not be as good”

Here’s a quick recap of what we know so far1:

Facebook Algorithm and News Feed Update

Let’s dive into a few actionable takeaways for brands!

What brands can do to succeed on Facebook

We know that, as brands, we need to focus on meaningful interactions. But what does that look like in action? Here are a few ways to ensure that your Page finds success in 2018.

How Brands Can Succeed with the Facebook Algorithm

1. Focus on content that connects people

Focusing on content that connects people through meaningful interactions may look and feel similar to your current Facebook strategy, but it’s a fundamental shift in how we might approach content moving forward.

Instead of creating content, for your brand, that people interact with, we need to start creating content, for the people, that will spark enough emotion to generate a comment or share.

Creating Great Content for Facebook

Creating content for the people requires us to truly understand our audience on a deep level:

  • What are your audience’s challenges?
  • What are your audience’s motivations?
  • What does your audience love to interact with?
  • What does your audience care about?

At Buffer, for example, I’ve found that our audience cares deeply about improving their marketing and social media skills in an actionable way. That simple piece of knowledge helps to guide every single piece of content we create for social media.

From videos:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbufferapp%2Fvideos%2F1866953470043758%2F&show_text=0&width=476

To links to our blog:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbufferapp%2Fposts%2F1873774122695026&width=500

Each piece of content that we share to Facebook serves a specific purpose: sparking emotion in our target audience so that they feel compelled to comment on or share our content with someone who might also find it interesting.

2. Post content that naturally creates meaningful interactions

There are some types of content that naturally spark more meaningful interactions among users. Video is one of those types of content, and it can have a powerful impact on your Facebook success.

In the recent Facebook News Feed update, Adam Mosseri provided an eye-opening stat:

“Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook–in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities”

Produced videos already perform better than both links and images in terms of engagement on Facebook, and now Facebook Live videos perform better than everything!

Check out this awesome example of Facebook Live video from Kohl’s where they teamed up with Tone It Up to bring viewers an interactive workout:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkohls%2Fvideos%2F10154941547431248%2F&show_text=0&width=560

This video sparked more than 36,000 views, 115 comments, and 80 shares all while providing their audience with a memorable experience.

3. Activate niche communities through Facebook Groups

More than one billion people around the world use Facebook Groups. And more than 100 million people see Groups as the most important part of their experience on Facebook.

Groups are the perfect way to build an active and engaged community around topics, issues, and causes that they care about. Whether it’s social media marketing, traveling, fashion, or anything else, there’s a huge group of people out there waiting to connect with like-minded people.

Facebook Group Types

The real secret to Facebook Groups is the fact that they generate conversations among your audience and connect people from all over the world.

That’s why we’ve seen such a dramatic rise in the usage of groups and messaging apps over the past several years. In the sea of News Feed content, groups and message apps offer people a more private and personal way to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

By creating a Facebook Group for your community, you are providing an open space where people can collaborate.

Over to you

It sure is an exciting time in the world of Facebook!

I truly believe that the recent changes to the Facebook algorithm are a good thing for both users and brands in the long run.

Now is a perfect time to hone in on your Facebook strategy and work to develop meaningful content and an engaged community. With time and patience, I am sure you will continue to find success with your Page.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions you might have, too! 

Feel free to drop us a comment below anytime.

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How the Twitter Timeline Works (and 6 Simple Tactics to Increase Your Reach)

Understanding the social media algorithms is important to social media marketers, especially since it can heavily impact a brand’s reach on social media. We’ve talked about the Facebook News Feed algorithm and the Instagram Feed algorithm. This time, we would love to dive into the Twitter timeline algorithm.

Up until 2015, the Twitter timeline displays tweets in the reverse-chronological order. In an attempt to improve the Twitter experience, the team at Twitter has gradually introduced changes to how they show tweets on the timeline.

In this post, you’ll learn how the Twitter timeline algorithm works and six ways to increase your reach on Twitter in 2018.

Twitter Timeline Algorithm Explained (and 6 Ways to Increase Your Reach)

How does the Twitter timeline algorithm work?

Before we dive into the specifics, it might be helpful to know that the Twitter timeline algorithm is constantly changing.

Twitter runs dozens of tests with its timeline every month. In fact, Deepak Rao, the product manager of the Twitter timeline, said, “Our algorithm changes on an almost daily to weekly basis”. As the Twitter timeline algorithm has helped to increase Twitter’s key metrics, it’s likely that Twitter will continue to test new ideas with its timeline1.

But here’s a piece of good news: Twitter would probably not use a fully-algorithmic timeline, unlike the Facebook News Feed or Instagram feed. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, had said that Twitter will remain live and real-time2.

Okay, let’s get into the algorithm.

The Twitter timeline algorithm

Twitter timeline algorithm summary

The Twitter timeline consists of three main sections:

  1. Ranked tweets
  2. “In case you missed it”
  3. Remaining tweets in reverse-chronological order

Every time you open the Twitter app or visit twitter.com, the algorithm will study all the tweets from accounts you follow and give each of them a relevance score based on several factors. According to Twitter and Rao, here are some of the factors3:

  • The tweet itself: its recency, presence of media cards (image or video), and overall engagement (including retweets, clicks, favorites, and time spent reading it)
  • The tweet’s author: your past interactions with this author, the strength of your connection to them, and the origin of your relationship
  • You: tweets you found engaging in the past, how often and how heavily you use Twitter

Then, Twitter will put the tweets that it thinks would be engaging to you in the first two sections – ranked tweets and “In case you missed it”.

The intent is to let you see the best Tweets at a glance first before delving into the lengthier time-ordered sections.

Nicolas Koumchatzky, Staff Software Engineer at Twitter

Ranked tweets

Ranked tweets

This section will appear at the top of your timeline and isn’t distinctly different from the regular timeline on first glance. But it contains only tweets that Twitter thinks are relevant to you. According to Twitter, the selected tweets should still be ordered reverse-chronologically4. (But from my personal experience, they might not be.)

For example, in the screenshot above, the tweets were from several hours ago (when I took the screenshot). I believe this is what the algorithm did:

  • It calculated that these are the tweets I might most likely be interested in,
  • pulled them out from all the tweets on my timeline, and
  • placed them at the top of my timeline.

Even though there were many tweets in between these tweets, the algorithm decided that these are more relevant to me than the rest. So it ranked them at the top of my timeline.

I found that these selected tweets were often liked or commented on by the accounts I follow. I believe the assumption is that if the accounts I follow interacted with these tweets, I would likely interact with them, too.

“In case you missed it”

In case you missed it

This section does as its name suggests. It shows you tweets that you might be interested in but might not see in the old timeline as they were from quite some time ago.

This module seems to only appear in your timeline when you have been away from Twitter for several hours or days5. Similar to the ranked tweets section, this section contains tweets that Twitter thinks are relevant to you. But the selected tweets are ordered according to their relevance score and might be from many hours or days ago.

For example, as you can see in the example above, the tweets were not ordered reverse-chronologically. They were also from more than 10 hours ago – which I might not have seen if I were just scrolling through a reverse-chronological timeline.

Remaining tweets

Remaining tweets

After the two sections, you’ll see the rest of the tweets from accounts you follow in the original reverse-chronological order. Just like the old Twitter timeline.

In this section (and sometimes in the two above), you’ll also find retweets, promoted tweets, and suggested accounts to follow. You might even see tweets from accounts you don’t follow. These are often tweets that Twitter thinks will make your timeline more relevant and interesting.

According to Twitter, you might also see “events featured at the top of your timeline labeled as Happening now” in the mobile app6.

Do all these match your experience with the Twitter timeline? If not, it’ll be great to hear from you in the comments section below!

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How to increase your reach on Twitter in 2018

Just like the Facebook News Feed algorithm and Instagram feed algorithm, engagement seems to be a major factor in the Twitter timeline algorithm. When your tweets receive many interactions, they would be ranked at the top of your followers’ timeline and, sometimes, even shown to people who aren’t following you.

This is a great benefit of the Twitter timeline algorithm – a ripple effect.

“It has also ensured that the most popular tweets are far more widely seen than they used to be, enabling them to go viral on an unprecedented scale.” – Will Oremus, Slate

Here’s a personal experience: Even though I only have about 2,000 Twitter followers, one of my recent top tweets has more than 11,000 impressions! That’s more than five times the number of followers I have.

My recent top tweet

So how do you increase your Twitter reach with the new timeline algorithm?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Re-use your top posts

It’s generally accepted to tweet the same content often. Sometimes even a few times a day. Instead of re-using any tweet, choose only your top tweets. That’s because, with the help of the new timeline algorithm, popular tweets can spread further and wider.

For example, here’s a piece of content that we recently tweeted twice.

The first tweet received 162 retweets, 186 likes, and more than 51,000 impressions. The second did even better – 208 retweets, 252 likes, and more than 57,000 impressions.

Re-use top tweets

A way to re-use your top posts is through the analytics in your Buffer dashboard. Under the “Posts” tab, select “Most Popular” and choose your preferred timeframe.

Buffer analytics

From there, simply hit “Re-Buffer” to add that tweet to your Buffer queue again. I would recommend also sharing new content so that your followers aren’t seeing only recycled content.

If you aren’t using Buffer, you can find your top tweets in your Twitter analytics and re-publish them manually.

2. Experiment with posting times

Even though some tweets will be ranked according to the new algorithm, most tweets will be shown in the reverse-chronological order. This means that finding the best posting time is still relevant and important. When you find posting times that increase your engagement, you are also increasing your chances of your tweets being featured at the top of your followers’ timeline.

More engagement, more impressions. More impressions, more engagement.

The best way to find your optimal posting times is to experiment with various times. Twitter tools like Followerwonk and Tweriod can tell you when your followers are most active on a typical day. The most-active times are good starting points to test.

For instance, below is the breakdown of the activity of my followers.

Followerwonk

Looking at the peaks, I might start by experimenting with the following times:

  • 5 am
  • 10 am
  • 12 pm
  • 4 pm
  • 8 pm

Tip: With Followerwonk, you can easily create a Buffer schedule for your Twitter account with a click of a button – Schedule at Buffer.

3. Try Twitter videos

Videos are slowly becoming the top content type. According to HubSpot’s research, videos are one of the top content types that people want to see more of in the future7.

Consumption behavior research

And social media platforms have been responding to this new consumption trend.

Facebook has been pushing for videos in the last few years. LinkedIn has recently introduced native LinkedIn videos. Furthermore, Twitter found that videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than photos and three times more likely to be retweeted than GIFs8.

Here are a few quick ways you can get started with videos:

  • Videos with text: If your brand has a blog, go through your Google Analytics to find your top evergreen blog posts. Then, use tools like Animoto or Lumen5 to help you easily convert your blog posts into videos.
  • Recordings or interviews: You can also record yourself sharing tips (BIGVU Teleprompter can be helpful for this) or interview someone on your team.
  • Live videos with Periscope: If you’re brave enough, try recording yourself live. As an example, we recently did a live Q&A on Periscope.

4. Use hashtags strategically

The hashtag was created on Twitter and remains to be an effective tactic when used appropriately. One of the best ways to use hashtags is to create branded hashtags – hashtags that are tied to your brand.

One of our branded hashtags is #bufferchat, which we use for our weekly Twitter chat. We have been using this hashtag for more than three years now. Most people in our community are familiar with it and would check the hashtag even when the Twitter chat is over. The result?

Our #bufferchat tweets sometimes get more impressions than many of our regular tweets.

Buffer tweets

Here’s more. When people join our Twitter chat and use the hashtag, they help to increase the reach of the hashtag (and, indirectly, our brand). With the help of our awesome community, the #bufferchat hashtag reaches millions of people every week!

If you would like to start a Twitter chat, you might find these two blog posts useful:

5. Reply to mentions

When we think about reach and engagement, we often think about our tweets and not our replies. But that’s missing the secret reach of those replies. Replies on Twitter can receive impressions and engagement, just as if you are sharing a piece of content.

This customer support reply by Karinna was seen more than 3,000 times.

Twitter reply 1

This #bufferchat reply by Arielle was seen nearly 3,000 times.

Twitter reply 2

Most of our replies don’t get many impressions – about 100 to 200 each. But considering that we sent hundreds of replies every day, that can add up very quickly!

Furthermore, the new timeline algorithm seems to feature replies more prominently on your followers’ timeline if they are also following the other account.

Twitter replies

Besides increasing your reach, it is a great Twitter practice and is beneficial to your business. In a study with more than 3,000 Twitter users, Twitter found several benefits to replying to questions from customers9:

  • People are willing to spend three to 20 percent more when the business answers their tweets.
  • They are 44 percent more likely to share their experiences.
  • And they are also 30 percent more likely to recommend the business.

6. Promote your tweets

As organic reach is falling, most social media platforms are becoming a pay-to-play channel. If you have some budget to spare, you could perhaps experiment with some Twitter ads.

Twitter has made it easier to boost a single tweet (just like on Facebook). Here’s how:

First, find the tweet that you want to promote. Oftentimes, tweets that have done well organically will perform even better when promoted. Click on the bar chart icon at the bottom of the tweet.

Promote tweet

Then, click on “Promote your tweet” in the lower-left corner of the popup. You’ll be prompted to fill in your personal information and credit card details if this is the first time you’re promoting a tweet.

Get started with Twitter ads

Then, set your location and budget. The location and budget options are a little limited compared with Facebook’s “Boost post”, which makes it easier to choose. If you prefer more fine-tuning, you could head over to your Twitter ads manager to create a new campaign from scratch.

Twitter ads: Location and budget

Finally, click “Confirm spend” to start your promotion. Yay!

Twitter is even testing an automated tweet promotion service. For $99 a month, Twitter will automatically amplify your tweets and profile to help you increase your reach, engagement, and following. This service is still in beta but might be opened up to brands if it goes well. (We have tested it ourselves, and here are our results!)

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What’s your favorite Twitter tip?

As Twitter continues to evolve, it’s important for marketers to keep up with the changes. While the Twitter timeline might not become fully algorithmic, organic reach will continue to fall as more and more people and businesses tweet. Understanding how the Twitter timeline works can help you increase your reach and engagement.

Here are six things you could try in 2018 to increase your Twitter reach:

  1. Re-use your top posts
  2. Experiment with posting times
  3. Try videos
  4. Use hashtags strategically
  5. Reply to mentions
  6. Promote your tweets

What other Twitter tactics would you recommend us to try? Share them below and we can chat about them. Thanks!

Topic: Twitter marketing

The awesome featured image is by William Bout, taken from Unsplash.

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