Facebook Algorithm Changes: Whether You Like It Or Not
Back in January, Facebook announced that it was overhauling how it ranks the posts, videos, and photos that appear in its users’ News Feeds. This new algorithm was designed to put what friends and family are sharing in the foreground. Another key change focused on de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.
From a personal perspective, this sounded like a welcome update. More posts that feature my friends and family, sounds great. However, for businesses, this sounded catastrophic. How are small businesses supposed to get their messages out to their audience with this new algorithm? Fast-forward nine months to today and you’ll see a different climate on social than even a year ago.
How Did the Change Impact Your Newsfeed?
For these businesses, analytically, over time, we’ve seen a slow transition from gaining organic engagement to more of a “pay-to-play” environment. That said, with social, the climate varies from page to page and across industries. Since Facebook aimed to alter the newsfeed to maximize the amount of content with “meaningful interaction,” the platform now highlights posts that its users have interacted with.
For example, imagine you come across a photo that your friend posted of their family dog; the photo has 10 likes and 3 comments. Facebook will display this post more predominately than say a business page’s post about a special offer or sale they have going on that week that has only 1 like. Why? Because the algorithm is taking the interactions from the dog photo and recognizing that it is gaining more traction (engagement) with users. Essentially, the algorithm can detect that people “care” about the content.
This isn’t to say that the business’s sale post isn’t engaging or interesting, but thinking back to why social media was created in the first place (to interact socially with one another), most would agree: cute dog photos > promotions. Right?
Business Repercussions With the New Algorithm
If you’re reading this thinking “oh no, how can my business survive through this change!?,” you’re not alone. There exist a plethora of articles that are discussing the impacts that this algorithm has had on businesses. Take for instance this excerpt from a New York Times article:
“The repercussions from Facebook’s new News Feed changes will almost certainly be far-reaching. Publishers, nonprofits, small businesses, and many other groups rely on the social network to reach people, so de-emphasizing their posts will most likely hurt them.”
However, I am here to offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Now that we’ve been working through the algorithm changes, all is not lost. Through various A-B testing and a bit of exploration, we’ve found that there are a few tactics that can be used to combat the new algorithm.
How to Combat Facebook’s New Algorithm
First, let me state that “combat” may be a harsh word. Let’s instead consider this an opportunity to continue growing business pages in this new and exciting social arena. That’s better. The most simple way to garner more engagement now is through boosted (paid) posts. This is a sure-fire way to ensure that your content is being delivered in users’ newsfeeds. But as small business owners can likely attest, this isn’t always a feasible option – especially not all the time. I just had to get that one out of the way. Now, we can move on to a few more feasible ways to maximize your social presence with the new algorithm.
Opt-In to “See First”
First, make sure that your audience is tuned in to see your messages. There are new options under the News Feed tab on Facebook that allow users to prioritize the pages and friends whose posts they are most interested in. Think of it like opting-in to receive social posts. Utilizing the “See First” option under the Following tab on a page tells Facebook that you want to see these messages appear in your newsfeed. Consider adding instructions to your business’s next email campaign or intranet to ensure your audiences know how to opt-in to your social.
React with Emojis
Another simple way to increase engagement is by taking advantage of the reaction options instead of simply “liking” posts. Facebook gives more weight to the various reactions such as the “love” or “haha” button and will predominately feature posts that gain more reactions than simple likes. While not as strong as comments or shares, reactions remain a form of “active engagement” that will help brands’ posts reach more people within the News Feed. Spread the word to friends and colleagues, that when they do wish to interact with your business’s posts, they should do so by using the reaction options – or even better commenting.
Focus on Content That’s For People
Lastly, every well-intentioned social media marketer will say that they aim to align their Facebook strategy with content that people will find interesting and engaging. That’s all fine and well, but now more than ever, brands really need to create social media content that focuses on connecting people through meaningful interactions. Instead of simply creating content that pushes or promotes your brand that people will (hopefully) interact with, we need to start creating content for people that will trigger enough emotion to generate a comment or a share.
Creating this kind of content is much more difficult and likely won’t happen overnight – and that’s okay. To begin, you’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates your audience (is it healthy eating tips or injury prevention advice?), and what kinds of posts your audience likes to interact with (do they prefer videos and photos or links to informative articles?). This will take some time to uncover, but by starting out with the intention of curating content that will matter to your audience, you are already on track.
Take That, New Algorithm
See, this new algorithm isn’t so scary. Though it ruffled some feathers in the first few months, we’ve come to a new and exciting time in the world of Facebook. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to understand the ins and outs of these types of changes and to be at the forefront of evolving technology.
We would love to hear your experience with the new algorithm – leave us a comment below and share how this has impacted your business.