Facebook and Twitter are currently facing the conflicting problem of needing to satisfy personal users, and business users.
Both platforms need to perfect the balancing act of maintaining an enjoyable communication platform that helps users connect socially, while also allowing brands to succeed.
In an attempt to make improvements, the social media giants have recently made some UX changes in their efforts to remain social.
As part of their ongoing efforts to make improvements to the News Feed, Facebook has been conducting qualitative research, asking over a thousand people to rate their Facebook experience and suggest ways that it could be improved.
Using this feedback to rank stories in the News Feed, Facebook is making steps towards improving the content that each user sees when they sign into their account.
Their research found that users enjoyed their News Feed the most when they were served with posts that were both qualitatively successful (approved of in surveys), and those that received lots of shares, Likes and clicks.
While Facebook states that this update shouldn’t affect Page reach or traffic levels, there are a few points that hint at the impact of this update.
Firstly, Facebook is watchful of content that is unnaturally engaged with. This could see Pages experiencing a decline in referral traffic if the clicks on their stories does not match how people report wanting to see these stories on their News Feed.
Secondly, Facebook offers some words of advice to publishers wanting to avoid unnatural engagement on their posts, suggesting that posts encouraging users to perform an action should be avoided. This kind of click-bait behaviour will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced over time.
These changes are likely designed to improve the relevance of a whole range of content, and sensational clickbait should definitely be avoided. Although this type of content may intrigue users enough to click on the link, qualitative feedback may not be favourable.
Hopefully this will prove effective for overall user experience on Facebook, increasing the quality and relevance of posts, and in turn keeping users engaged.
For publishers and brands, Facebook has vowed to provide insight into increasing referral traffic, and strongly advocates putting the audience first, posting things that are most meaningful to them.
User friendly focus
Following suit, Twitter recently rolled out a user-facing feature that while only small, grants relief to those who fear that Twitter has been slowly losing focus.
Something that Twitter has struggled with recently is authenticity, particularly with the introduction of the new Moments feature, which some users feel isn’t influenced in the same democratic way their feed is.
Concentrating on the social element of Twitter, whilst also making room for incremental revenue is something Twitter has battled with, seemingly reluctant to create a ‘walled garden’ for fear of alienating its users.
The make or break moment for Twitter will likely come if the increase in character limit of tweets goes ahead.