Let’s be honest: No marketer likes when algorithm updates affect their ability to reach the right people. But change is inevitable.
With algorithm updates periodically shifting what we see on our timelines, it’s important to understand what it means for marketers, and how to stay relevant.
The algorithm update of 2018, as we all remember, was Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative to make content more meaningful to the user and improve the quality of their experience on Facebook. Prioritizing valuable interactions with family and friends over interactions with brands, news outlets and political sources, the algorithm reduced what users saw of product pages and promotions.
Now it’s 2020, and Facebook’s focus is on making the platform transparent to users. As a result of user surveys, Facebook wants to give users more control over what they see.
We’ve done some digging and have the changes you’re looking for and what you can do about them.
In March 2019, Facebook introduced this tool to help users understand why they’re being shown a particular post. It gives the user the ability to tell Facebook what’s important to them, and if they want to see fewer posts from another user or more posts from a particular page.
Let users know that when they like or follow your page to check the “See First” preference, which lets the algorithm know your posts are important to them.
If a user has previously engaged with your page, they are more likely to continue interacting with your page and users on your page. But the key is quality content. In 2017, Facebook became more serious in its fight against engagement bait, using its algorithm to show people fewer posts goading them to like, share or comment on posts that artificially expand the page’s reach in users’ news feeds.
Be funny, inspiring, heartwarming or curiosity-sparking, but most of all, be genuine. Whatever you do, don’t be engagement bait. The algorithm will pick up on this (in its perpetual quest for valuable and meaningful content) and down-rank you for it. You want users to interact with your posts because they enjoy them, such as this Coca-Cola campaign featuring celebrities like Jonah Hill and Martin Scorsese, rather than asking them to tag a friend or like something, as a more authentic method of interaction.
A post’s recency is now a factor when the algorithm is determining what to show users. The more recent, the higher the ranking.
Keep your content fresh; produce it on a regular cycle. Update posts as new information comes about, and keep bringing new ideas.
In May 2019, Facebook revealed that the newsfeed algorithm would favor high-quality, original videos. Videos that users commonly search for and replay shows Facebook a sense of loyalty, adding to a video’s value in the algorithm. Videos that are from the original source rather than reshared add value in the rankings. Those that are longer than 3 minutes and watched until at least the 1-minute mark proved to be of higher quality. Facebook Live also proves to be of higher quality, averaging six times more engagement than regular videos.
Produce videos that are 3 minutes in length on average, of original quality and that are interesting yet genuine (refer back to the previous changes in favor here). Following these guidelines will help tip the algorithm in your direction. Think about your audience when creating video content and be sure it is informative, yet entertaining.
How often a page posts can directly impact its value to followers. Because Facebook feels this way, posting frequency has become a ranking signal that determines how well your posts rank in newsfeeds.
Planning your social media content in advance enables you to think through what you’re posting and when the most optimal time is to post. This can also improve engagement rates and get people talking about your posts if your content is relevant and timely, no matter what industry you’re in. Planned, well-thought-out content will provide value, which is what Facebook cares most about.
While there have been several changes, one thing has stayed the same: Facebook is a pay-to-play platform. And if you want to reach the millions of potential customers that permeate Facebook every day, you’ll need to look beyond organic content and utilize paid media and the diversity it offers when it comes to reaching your target audience. But keep in mind that a lot of these attributes of quality content apply to ads, too.
The days of using Facebook as a platform to broadcast to the masses are dwindling as you read this. Facebook, like everything else in this world, is continually evolving. And also like everything else, there are pros and cons for all affected.
For consumers, it can be a relief to have a better personalized experience, with more control over what is seen.
For marketers, it can be frustrating to have put so much effort into building a solid follower base for the algorithm to not be in your favor. It causes us to work harder, yet ignites our creativity in chasing new ways to captivate our audiences.
While Facebook is still one of the top platforms available for marketers, it doesn’t look like the algorithm changes will be reverting back anytime soon, so you’ll want to have realistic expectations and diversify the channels you use for a solid demand generation strategy. This includes other social networks and Google AdWords.
To learn more about effective demand generation, check out The New Demand Generation Guide.