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Understanding The Facebook Algorithm

Facebook is quickly becoming an integral part of our daily lives, both at a personal and professional level. We are almost always connected to our Facebook accounts and we very quickly consume the content presented to us multiple times throughout the day.Thus, it is no wonder that Facebook is now well-known to be the number one platform for both marketers and consumers.

It has even been noted that the Facebook platform arguably has the best ROI especially for social ads!

So, if your business currently does not have a dedicated Facebook Business Page, it is high time that you create a Facebook Business Page. However, despite the relatively easy set-up, it is commonplace for businesses to not see the rewards of their efforts quite as quickly. This is mostly due to the numerous changes that have been made to the platform algorithm, which then alters how and even when your content is being presented to your audience.

 

What Is The Facebook Algorithm?

Facebook Algorithm

The Facebook algorithm is a process of arranging and displaying content on your Facebook News Feed. The algorithm seeks to determine which posts are most relevant to the user by predicting which post the user will have a positive reaction to. The post that is ranked the highest for positive reaction will be displayed first on the user’s News Feed. 

Since the posts are no longer displayed according to chronological order, the arrangement of the news feed timeline is unique to each individual user. This means that your recent post might not even be displayed on all your followers’ news feed because Facebook could have deemed the content you post to be irrelevant to some users. Thus, every single change that Facebook undergoes in its algorithm will have an impact on your work as a marketer.  

 

How Does The Facebook Algorithm Work?

But how does Facebook actually determine which post the user would find most relevant?  

Answer : From each user interaction on the Facebook platform!

Each user interaction on Facebook is being tracked and the data is used by the Facebook algorithm to personalise the content displayed in the user’s news feed. The aim of the algorithm is to continually improve the overall user experience on the platform. In addition to this, the latest changes announced by Facebook was that the algorithm is now also placing more focus on “meaningful interactions”. This refers to the changing focus to facilitating authentic interactions that are made between friends and family members as compared to “spam” content from businesses. 

As mentioned, what this means for marketers is that even if you have a good number of followers, your post may not appear on all of your follower’s timeline organically. The biggest reason for this would be the lack of relevancy in your content to the user’s current interest, based on past user behaviour and interactions on Facebook.

Thus, businesses are now compelled to adapt their marketing strategies to align to Facebook’s approach of being more aligned to the user-experience.

To further understand the Facebook Algorithm, let’s discuss some of the important factors that go into the ranking system in its algorithm. Facebook revealed these four factors at the 2018’s F8 conference:

  1. Inventory – a complete list (including from friends, families and publishers) of all the available content to be displayed in the user’s News Feed Timeline
  2. Signals – all the information necessary for Facebook to understand the content of the post. As a marketer, you want Facebook to recognise your content as being meaningful and relevant to your target audience.
  3. Predictions – Anticipated user reaction for the post. This represents the behaviour of the user to each piece of content.
  4. Final Score – An average score of all the factors considered. It is a quantitative representation of the likelihood of the user’s positive response to any particular content

Facebook Algorithm Factors

 Source: Social Barrel

 

How Does The Facebook Algorithm Impact Marketing Strategies?

Although it may sound daunting to attempt to overcome Facebook’s algorithm, we do have some control over the process, especially in the types of signals that our content is exhibiting. There are 2 types of content signals – passive and active signals

Passive Signals are those referring to the view time, the type of post, the time of post, and other non-engagement related aspect of the post. 

Active signals refer to any type of engagement that the post might elicit from the user such as likes, shares, comments and replies. 

Since the Facebook algorithm is geared towards generating authentic interactions, the implication is that Facebook algorithm is focused on active signals in the content which manages to evoke an actionable reaction from the user. This actionable reaction would usually come in the form of clicks generated within the post itself.

 

Marketing Strategies to Comply to Facebook Algorithm 

 

1. Focus On Video Content As A Marketing Strategy

There are 5 different types of Facebook posts that you can utilise. But for highest ROI, it is best to drive focus on creating video content. Facebook itself has reported on the occurrence of higher user engagement and interaction derived from video content. This is also a great way to keep the interest of your user for longer periods of time.

Although the idea of producing video content might sound intimidating, but there are actually various quick ways in which you can generate video content:

 

1a. User Generated Content (UGC)

A great fast-track way of posting videos is to utilise compelling user-generated video content and upload it on to your Facebook Page as a conversation starter. UGC is essentially unpaid content that is created by the fans, followers, or customers of the brand. It could consist of testimonials, blog articles, photos, videos, and even tweets, amongst other things.

Coca-Cola actually managed to very successfully make use of this campaign by actively encourage their customers to share their coca-cola moments, using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. 

#shareacoke campaign

This is a very smart way to generate hype about your brand and get your customers to be advocates for the brand while generating content that are relatable to other customers too. You may even wish to have an accompanying campaign where users may produce content in various formats, such as photos, reviews and even memorable stories created in the presence of your brand or product.

Essentially, any type of user-generated content would score points for authenticity and engagement.

 

1b. Facebook Live

A real-time live “how-to” video or vlog can help you stand out. Users are constantly looking for ways to connect with brands, and having a “Live” video session is the easiest way to achieve this. Facebook recommends that the Facebook Live sessions last for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the “late-comers” some time to catch up. Your may want to do a short introduction every couple minutes, so your viewers always aware of who they are engaging with. 

Another great content idea for a “Live” video session would be to allow your followers exclusive sneak peek into what goes into the making of your brand or product. A “behind-the-scenes” type of video can be a powerful way in engaging with your audience.

During the “Live” session, encourage your viewers to engage with you and make sure that you respond and interact with them frequently as well. You may need a helping hand in responding to comments while you interact verbally and visually with your viewers. Always end each section with a CTA, inviting your viewers to an actionable response such as visiting your website.

Your “Live” videos will show up in Newsfeeds, on your profile, and also your followers who have agreed to receive updates from you.

 

1c. Gifs / Memes

Gifs and memes are also great ways to generate quick yet attention-grabbing content that can fuel engagement. There are plenty of online gif or meme generators that help you create that unique meme that is relatable to your followers and special to your brand.

The idea is to conform to the needs of Facebook’s algorithm guidelines in order to maintain the interest of the user and be ranked higher. The intent of the video content remains the same in which it is to achieve higher organic reach, spark relevant discussions and maintain user interest.

 

2. Post Photos & Tags 

One of the common mistakes marketers make is to fixate on posting external links. This is poor marketing strategy as it directs the audience away from the platform. Keeping in mind that Facebook wants brands and businesses to keep content on their platform, this would also not gain you any favours with Facebook’s algorithm. 

Make sure that you keep your posts fresh, and in an array of different content formats. Visual content would usually generate more engagements. Attempt to have every post be accompanied by any visual element, such as an image, a gif or even an infographic. 

The idea is to post something captivating and eye-catching to grab your audiences’ attention. 

3. Stimulate Positive Conversations

There was a time where Facebook was accommodating to posts that were candidly asking for comments, tags and likes in a bid to drive their engagement rating. With the new Facebook algorithm update, these types of posts are now recognizable as “spam” and are thus quickly deemed as irrelevant to users. Some examples of obvious engagement baiting that you should avoid are:

Engagement bait photo from Forbes

Source: Forbes

Instead of just asking for meaningless engagements, businesses should be trying to spark discussions or start conversations with their followers. The Facebook algorithm is looking for posts that are genuine conversation-starters. You should be able to spark a conversation without outrightly asking for it.

A clever way would be to pose a question to your customers to elicit a response from them whether in the form of comments, likes or shares. You could also be playful with your followers and also generate authentic engagement by conducting a poll. This allows your audience to have a fun discussion with one another through your post.

Loot Crate is quite active at coming up with polls, such as this:

Loot Crate Facebook Poll Post

What is most important is to be able to get people talking before you start dropping links on them. Loot Crate, once again, does this well by posting a simple question with an image to generate a discussion:

Loot Crate Facebook Post

 

4. Encourage Employee Advocacy

Facebook has made it clear that posts from friends and family will take precedence over posts generated by business and brands. This is not good news for marketers as it means that your generic marketing posts are going to take a backseat to other types of posts. To add to this set back, your organic reach which was already limited to your current Facebook followers/fans will be further impacted by the new algorithm. 

However, this is actually a great opportunity to encourage your employees to share your content on their networks. Not only does this expand your reach instantly, your posts are more likely to be read since they are coming from friends and families.  

 

5. Make Each Post Unique

With more and more people logging on to Facebook everyday, the expectation is that brands and businesses are to post content regularly and consistently. 

The drawback to this is expectation is that we might find ourselves quickly running out of content to publish. Another drawback would be that you might not be fully utilising the current content by just publishing it just once. 

So, how can you resolve this issue?

Consider treating each post as an A/B test where you can experiment with different elements of the same post:

  • Have a unique description to introduction the same post so as to avoid being repetitive.
  • You could also repurpose your content in a different format, eg the same content that was initially delivered in a blog article can be transformed into a video or even an infographic.

 

6. Invest In Content With Good Organic Momentum

It is no secret that the Facebook algorithm places great importance on content with good organic performance. 

Content that has strong organic drive will naturally have lower CPC. Thus, if said content is boosted with some advertising dollars, it will help to create that bigger growth for the content and maximise its mileage.

 

Conclusion

As marketers, we will need to adapt to the changes made to the Facebook algorithm and constantly revise our marketing strategy to align to the dynamic changes. The key is to try to stay in line within Facebook’s best practices as to avoid being penalised, and remain under Facebook’s good graces so as to be rewarded with an increased reach.

Have a chat with us to find out how we can help your business grow!

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