Facebook’s news feed algorithm – Make it work for you!

Facebook’s news feed algorithm – Make it work for you!

January 5, 2016

Ever wondered why some of your page’s posts get seen by scores of fans, while some seem go by pretty much unnoticed? It’s all down to that pesky algorithm Facebook has in place which dictates what content will show up in users’ news feeds. Although some recent changes have made it even harder for pages to reach their fans organically, all hope is not lost. Knowledge is power, and if you know how the algorithm works, you can use it to your advantage. There are over 100,000 variables governing the algorithm, but these are the basic ones you need to know about:

Newsfeed = I (interest) x P (post) x C (creator) x T (type) x R (recency)

Interest: The interest a user has for a page or a “creator”. This is calculated by previous interactions, such as likes, comments and shares of the page’s previous content. The more someone engages with your posts, the more likely your future posts are to show up in their news feed.

Post: If a particular post has performed well (getting a lot of initial engagement), Facebook will think others might find it interesting too, and push it higher in your fans’ news feeds.

Creator: If your page’s posts have previously been popular and gotten a lot of engagement, the algorithm is more likely to show your latest post to more people.

Type: The algorithm can see what type of post (video, photo etc.) a user prefers to engage with, and is more likely to show them posts of the same kind.

Recency: The more recently a post has been getting engagement, the more likely it is to show up in users’ newsfeeds.

So how can you use the algorithm to maximise your posts’ chances of being seen and acted upon? Here are a few do’s and don’ts to increase your page’s organic reach:

DO’S
  1. Post content that is engaging, for example by asking questions. High initial engagement will mean a greater reach, so it might be a good idea to encourage your employees to interact with new posts. Note that engagement is not only comments, shares, and likes, but also time spent on a post.
  2. Post content at the right time. On your page’s Insights you can see when most of your fans are online, but remember that if you post at the same time as all your competitors, you have less chance of showing up in users’ news feeds.
  3. Post links with thumbnails. The algorithm does not like in-text links, so they will have a lower reach.
  4. Post videos natively on Facebook, as these will get priority over embedded videos from YouTube etc. According to Search Engine Journal, native videos reach twice as many people as third party videos, and consequently get more engagement.
  5. Check Insights to see which type of post resonates the most with your fans. At the moment, video has the best reach and engagement on average, but make sure you know what your fans prefer.
  6. Share content from popular and reputable users and sources, as the algorithm will rate these higher than content from less well known sources.
DON’TS
  1. Less is more. Don’t spam your page with content thinking that the more you post, the higher the chance of some of it reaching your audience. The higher the frequency of your posts, the lower organic reach they will have. Focus on quality instead of quantity.
  2. Don’t ask for likes or shares directly, as this will be penalised by the algorithm.
  3. Don’t post overly promotional content. People don’t like a hard sell, and the algorithm will recognise it and push it to the bottom of your fans’ news feed. If you really want to promote an offer, pay for an ad or boost your post.
  4. Don’t overuse hashtags, as these are likely to result in decreased organic reach. Only use if relevant, for example if you are running a multi-platform campaign where a unifying hashtag can be useful.

However, don’t stare yourself blind at your organic reach statistics, as they aren’t necessarily a good indicator of performance. Instead, look at things like traffic to your website and offer uptakes. And remember, it’s not all about how MANY you reach, it’s about reaching the RIGHT people. Just as your content, your reach should focus on quality over quantity!

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