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Facebook Algorithms: Facts & Advice from Leading Industry Experts

Posted: 30th May 2017
Facebook Algorithms

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that Social Media Marketing is the fastest changing industry in the world. Every time you log into an account, something has been moved or improved. On training days, I often joke that Facebook tries to make me look like a learner, as I fumble my way through to find the function I’m addressing.

The truth is, with 54,200,000 business pages, over 3 million links shared every hour and 22 million apps installed each day, Facebook has no choice but to experiment with the way we consume content. Just like we’re learning how to use it, it’s learning how we want to use it.

There’s A LOT of people to please and an ABUNDANCE of activity to manage, both of which are constantly growing and at a rapid pace. With this in mind regular updates aren’t just an inevitability, they are in fact a necessity. This doesn’t make them any easier to understand, or explain why Facebook Algorithms are important to you, though – does it?

Luckily, that’s the focus of this post (and my freebie so don’t forget that before you go). Today we’ll explore everything you need to know about Facebook’s New Feed Algorithm – from 2017 trends and Live Video to top tips and future predictions! Grab a pen and paper; you may want to take notes…

What exactly is a Facebook Algorithm?

By definition, an algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. Facebook has its own algorithm(s) to cope with the distribution and visibility of content, with the aim of selecting the most relevant and engaging posts to show in the News Feed.

In the past, posts would show up in a linear fashion, according to the time the content was shared or the type of relationship you have with the person sharing. Now the software is enhanced enough to prioritise stories you’re likely to engage with. Industry leaders predict that modifications will continue to be rolled out year upon year, as demands change and goals alter.

So, why should I care?

If you’re a business, blogger or public figure, chances are you’ve already reaped the rewards that a successful Facebook campaign can obtain. You’ve probably worked really hard on getting your content/ads seen – maybe even found yourself listed in the first few dozen slots of the News Feed! And you definitely don’t want to let that all go to waste, especially if all it takes is a tweak or two to your current strategy to maintain results…

Remember the saying, “you have to be in it to win it”? I advise you to channel that vibe now. Failing to keep up with Social Media trends is like closing your shop front and still expecting people to come on in. It just doesn’t work that way.

How often does the algorithm change and why?

Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm is in a perpetual state of flux. Since its launch in 2004, experts have noted 44 major updates to the features it offers and the way it functions. The rate at which algorithms change is increasing, with an estimated average of 2-3 updates a month. The increase in updates is said to reflect the increase of users and content.

Scotty Ayres, Co-author of Facebook All-In-One for Dummies and Ambassador of Awesome at Post Planner, put it perfectly when he explained, “Of the 1500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, the News Feed ranks each possible story by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.”

The algorithm is set to evolve at the same pace as the users. It’s meant to be intuitive, offering individuals the opportunity to consume content that is most valuable to them. Compared to other platforms that still display content in real time, this has proven to be effective in terms of user experience but stress inducing for page owners who’s organic reach is plummeting, as fans no longer see their every post. Thus, they must counteract the decline by exploring new avenues of reaching audiences and keeping ahead of the competition. 

What’s hot right now?

In the world of Social Media Marketing, this question should come up on a weekly or even daily basis. The need to stay on top of the latest trends has never been greater as we edge our way into new territory. Attending the Social Media Marketing World in San Diego earlier this year, I was able to gain important industry insights from some of the world’s leading Social Media Specialists. Facebook was, of course, the hottest topic of the entire conference – with algorithms at the forefront of almost every conversation. Here are some of my key takeaways:

The time you post no longer matters

Gone are the days of peak post times! You no longer have to stick to a rigid schedule, being sure to post at specific times to secure or heighten engagement. Can you believe it?

I couldn’t at first, but when I learned why it all made a lot more sense. The tweaks will see Facebook’s Algorithm rank and display posts based on a relevancy score rather, than the order they were actually published.

Engagement is King and content is Queen

Content and engagement go hand in hand. Without content, you don’t have much to engage with, and without engagement your content is less likely to be seen.

Churning out lots of content to make sure you’re not buried at the bottom of the News Feed is no longer an issue for the reasons noted above, so it’s time to spend more time connecting with your audience and less time spamming them. Great news!

Start up a conversation, answer some frequently asked questions… make yourself look available and approachable… people don’t go to the effort to comment if they’re unsure you will even reply.

Less is more

The new Facebook Algorithm is pretty much designed to help us cut down on the consumption of content and find the things that actually matter to us.

The more you put out there, the more competition your posts have to make it into the News Feed! Business owners with Facebook Pages are already noticing that they get more unique views on weeks that they post less frequently.

Of course, you have to keep things ticking over and it’s all about striking the right balance but just like Google, Facebook is now putting great emphasis on authenticity – chiefly due to endless reports of fake news.

Is there a way to break the Facebook Algorithm?

Since organic reach has dropped, we’re all searching for ways to beat the algorithm and keep up with the growing competition. During my time at Social Media Marketing World 2017, this was a sizzling subject.

The answer (for now)? Live Videos.

Said to be viewed 3x more than recorded videos, Facebook is now classifying Live Video as a new content type altogether. Facebook product managers Vibhi Kant and Jie Xu wrote:

“We are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live Videos are now more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live.”

The real-time broadcasting aspect is proving to engage audiences on an exponential level. Zuckerberg said: “Live Video is a way for people to have a more authentic and intimate experience sharing about their lives.”

Who’s getting it spot on?

Facebook’s Algorithm is all about user behaviour. Since Live streaming via Facebook was opened to all verified brands at the end of 2015, various broadcasters and businesses have paved the way for individuals looking to make the most of this feature.

Airbnb was one of the first to launch a big campaign using Facebook Live, in partnership with The Jungle Book. It live streamed interviews from the red carpet premiere and even built a treehouse for the occasion.

Benefit goes Live every week with its very own ‘Tipsy Tricks’ mini-show, where beauty tips and makeup advice is dished out under the influence. It makes for fun viewing and gives fans something fresh to look forward to.

What’s to come in the future?

More and more users are joining the Live Video hype and with reception and reach better than anyone expected, it looks as though it’s here to stay. When you look at the past trends, you’ll see that Facebook goes through phases, and that each phase lasts years and never quite fizzles out.

10 years ago most of the content was text. Then photos become the focus and next it was videos. Now, it’s Live Videos. Though text, images and pre-recorded videos will remain an integral part of your Social Media Marketing mix, Live Videos aren’t a craze to be ignored – they are here to stay.

As Zuckerbeg stated at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, “we’re going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.” So, if you can’t take it from me, take it from him!

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