What Marketers Should Know About Facebook's New Algorithm
Let’s say you have 10,000 likes on your company’s Facebook page. Yesterday, you posted a behind-the-scenes photo of your team at an end-of-summer BBQ. Last night, you checked the post, and out of your 10,000 followers, only 14 people liked it. Seriously?
Does this sound familiar? Several years ago, Facebook launched its News Feed algorithm, once commonly referred to as “EdgeRank.” The algorithm tracks the type of content a person most often engages with and surfaces similar content as a way to entice that person back to Facebook. Which is nice for Facebook. But for us social media managers? It means that on most days, only a small fraction of our followers will actually see anything we post.
In light of Facebook’s recent changes to its algorithm, we’re breaking down how it works—plus easy ways to get the most eyeballs on the content you’re working (freakin’ hard!) to create and publish.
How it Works
If you manage your company’s Facebook page, you’re likely very familiar with that little number on the bottom left hand corner of each post. That number tells you how many News Feeds that specific piece of content has popped up in, based on how the algorithm has ranked it.
The algorithm gives your content a score based on three factors.
1. Affinity Score
This is the relationship you have to each of your followers. Do you interact with their content often, and vice versa? Do you share mutual friends? Your photo or update has a better chance of popping up on the News Feed of an avid fan who is liking and commenting on your posts than it does for someone who just follows you.
2. Edge Weight
This is the weight Facebook gives to the type of content you’re posting (e.g., videos, photos, links) and the way your followers are interacting with that content (liking, commenting, sharing). While there isn’t a great deal of transparency into the algorithm, it’s been reported that photos and videos are ranked higher than links, and sharing and commenting is ranked higher than liking. So if your photo got 14 likes, 0 comments, and 0 shares, it likely won’t show up in as many News Feeds as it would if it got 0 likes, 7 comments, and 7 shares.
3. Time Decay
This looks at much time has passed—newer content has a better chance of popping up in your followers’ News Feed than something you posted two weeks ago. That said, Facebook just launched “story bumping,” which means that popular posts will now have a greater chance of appearing at the top of a News Feed if it is getting a lot of likes and comments, even if it’s a few hours old.
How to Make it Work For You
Instead of just posting a photo of your summer BBQ, ask your followers to “like” the photo if they’ve had a great summer or are enjoying end-of-summer BBQs of their own. If you’re posting a link to an article, ask your followers to weigh in with their thoughts on the topic. Play games, like “Fill in the Blank” or “Caption Contest.” The more engagement you can inspire, the more widely Facebook will share your content.
Make Great Content
Posting links to your press releases (yawn) is probably not going to get many likes, comments, or shares. But posting homemade videos, original photos, and fun visual graphics? Definitely. Take a page out of your own social book: What type of content makes you hit that "Like" button or comment? And what type of content do you just usually scroll on by?
Post at Specific Times
Take a look at your Facebook analytics—when are the most people interacting with your posts? At night? Lunch time? Maximize the number of people seeing your content by posting the best of the best during the timeframes that have proved to be successful in the past. Hint: Don’t be afraid of weekends!
Over the last several years, Facebook has evolved its News Feed algorithm and continues to do so. The good news? The company announced last month that it will share any future changes it makes to the algorithm on its blog. So keep your eyes peeled!
Have you struggled with the Facebook algorithm? Found any useful tips? Share your stories with us here!
Photo courtesy of Lady Mixy.
About The Author
Alex Honeysett is a Brand & Marketing Strategist and the creator of The Pitch Course, an in-depth, self-paced online course that teaches entrepreneurs how to find, pitch, and land speaking gigs, guest blogs, and podcast interviews. After spending nearly a decade leading communications strategies for multimillion dollar brands and startups in NYC and London, Alex now teaches entrepreneurs how to message and promote their own businesses, human-to-human. Alex's articles have been featured in the Daily Muse, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, DailyWorth, TIME, and Newsweek.