What to do about the end of auto-sharing to Facebook profiles and creating episodic social media content

If you auto-share items from your site to Facebook (blog posts for example), you’ll want to take note of the big changes coming this week.

Many people, nonprofits, small businesses, churches etc use the built-in social media auto-sharing features on platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace or Wix or Weebly etc to share content to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles without much fuss.

However, Facebook is removing that ability for posting to a profile on August 1. This particularly impacts smaller businesses or a nonprofit that are smaller since it’s affecting Profiles, not Pages. But if you have been using auto-share to a WordPress profile, you’re going to have to do that manually now.

Here’s part of WordPress’ notice about it:

Starting August 1, 2018, Facebook is making a change to their platform: third-party tools can no longer automatically share posts to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize. If you’ve connected a Facebook Profile to your site, then Publicize will no longer be able to share your new posts to Facebook automatically. Sharing to Facebook Pages will continue to work as before.

Source: Publicize — Support — WordPress.com

Note that if you are auto-sharing to a Facebook Page (rather than a Profile… usually Pages are associated with businesses or groups and Profiles are individuals), you’ll still be able to continue to do that after August 1.

There are good security reasons why Facebook is making this change in light of the Cambridge Analytica fallout as well as the general cultural perception that Facebook is overrun with “fake news”. However, there’s also a clear self-serving reason for making this change as this post from Buffer points out:

Facebook seems very keen to encourage more users to share content and counter the decline of user-generated posts.

For example, its recent focus on Stories and Groups could be seen as a way to encourage more unique content. This, coupled with the “meaningful interactions” update, shows that Facebook might be hoping that more unique content shared by users, reaching more of their closest friends and family will help to spark more conversation and interaction on the platform.

Source: How Facebook Marketing is Changing (And How to Be Prepared) – Buffer

Buffer is a leading service in the social media sharing space. They allow for easy scheduling of posts to a variety of networks and are used frequently by businesses and nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. We’ve used them extensively with clients over the years as well.

However, the social media landscape continues to evolve since it became a major part of most people’s “online” lives over the last decade as well as a viable marketing and advertising channel.

I’ve always been hesitant about overusing auto-sharing services and blasting out the same content to every network as if they were all the same. Twitter, when used well, generates a very unique “culture” around a brand, business, or church. Facebook also has a unique community around content that will take even more of a front seat with the renewed push on “personal sharing” from the company. The same can be said about Instagram. The trick is to know your audience and be aware of the particularities of each of the social networks you’re pushing content to. You can’t treat a Facebook Live video the same as an Instagram Story or a Twitter Moment.

Additionally, Facebook Pages have taken a number of algorithmic hits over the last few years and I’ve personally had clients walk away from the platform because the ROI just wasn’t there. It’s not as simple as pushing “Publish” and walking away to let the magic happen these days.

Whether you’re using a Page or your own Profile to promote your cause, now is a good time to step back and re-examine how and why you share content and how you share content on any social network. I like to create social media calendars for our clients to help keep a more scheduled approach to content generation and sharing and to keep us from falling into the easy trap of blasting out the same content to every network at once.

Along with the calendar and schedule, I like to promote the idea of generating social media content in an episodic nature. The Netflix example is often used here to explain that people go to the service over and over to watch content they have become connected to in some way. “Binge watching” is not just about devouring a season of a TV show in one sitting, but is a psychological relationship that a person establishes with a certain brand of a show. Netflix doesn’t make its money from people passively watching movies or shows that are rolled out in a pre-programmed schedule with advertisements every 4-6 minutes. Instead, Netflix understands the psychology behind creating a connection between a person and their very interest-specific content.

In the same way, I like to promote the notion that social media content from a business, church, or nonprofit can and should tap into that same “episodic” mindset. Get your fans (no matter the size of your audience) on a regular schedule of Facebook Live events, Twitter AMA’s, Instagram Live Q/A’s, Facebook Page Pics of the Week etc… and don’t forget your weekly email newsletters on Tuesday or Thursday and your new podcast episodes every Monday.

Posted by Sam Harrelson

I work with churches and nonprofits to find solutions for their strategic planning and marketing needs. Get in touch to see how I can help your group face challenges of the 21st century while keeping your authentic voice.

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