What You Need to Know About Facebook’s New Algorithm
For the past few months, lots of business owners and social media strategists have been biting their nails and breaking a sweat over Facebook’s latest algorithm change. It is, after all, the platform’s first real blow to brands; a modification that has made it harder than ever to reach followers. Since March, the shift has generated headlines like “Facebook Reportedly Slashing Organic Reach for Pages,” and “Facebook is Ending the Free Ride,” but few have begged the question, what do I do now?
Well, at Funk/Levis, we wanted an answer. So, we grabbed some Starbucks, put on our thinking caps, and started to do our homework. We studied the algorithm and scoured articles, searching high and low for the answer to our question. Like everyone else with a Facebook Page, we wanted to know how to deal with Facebook’s unfriendly new algorithm. Since the first step towards a solution is to understand the problem, our first order of business was to figure out why EdgeRank (that’s the fancy name for Facebook’s new algorithm) has everyone’s panties in a bunch.
The short explanation is this: Last year, the total number of Pages liked by your average Facebook user grew by more than 50 percent, leading to an intense struggle for space in people’s News Feeds. Suddenly, thousands of Pages are competing (along with users’ friends) to be seen and heard by their followers, so Facebook has no choice but to weed some out. In other words, more competition and limited attention makes yours a dull brand – unless you’re smart about accommodating the new system. We’ve discovered a few ways to do this, but first, here’s a quick breakdown of how the new Facebook algorithm actually sorts posts for the News Feed:
- How popular (liked, commented on, shared, clicked) have the creator’s posts been overall in the past?
- How popular is this post with everyone else who has already seen it?
- How popular have the creator’s past posts been with the viewer?
- Is this the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) that the viewer enjoys seeing most?
- How recently was the post published?
According to Facebook’s News Feed Director of Product Management Will Cathcart, Facebook actually scores these determinants along with tons of other highly personalized factors in order to rank posts for each person, regardless of whether the posts come from friends or Pages. Ultimately, they don’t intentionally discriminate – it just comes down to a matter of showing everyone what they want to see most.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on the new and improved News Feed algorithm, let’s revisit the question at hand: How can you change your posting habits to jumpstart your Page’s heartbeat and revive engagement and reach? How do you give your followers what they want, while working the new EdgeRank system to your advantage?
Here are a few tactics we recommend trying:
- Tag other brands for better exposure. Call it an olive branch: the EdgeRank algorithm has one new feature that actually does Pages a favor. Now, when you tag other Pages, your post has the opportunity to be exposed to your fans and the fans of the Page you tagged.
- Ditch the meme. I know. We pouted about it too, but the harsh reality is that Facebook is moving on to bigger, better, higher-quality photos – and that means ostracizing memes. You can still post one every now and then (because why not), but whenever possible, opt for funny photos with a good resolution and a clever quote of your own instead.
- Don’t beg for likes. I’m just going to say it: “click-baiting” (i.e. asking people to like, comment, or share) is to Facebook what “555-555-5555 txt me im soooo bored” was to MySpace. It’s just as annoying coming from a brand as it is coming from a person, and now, it’s not just your fans that know it. EdgeRank does too, and it’s going to strike down hard on any brands that try to use this obnoxious strategy to their advantage.
- Share – and talk about – what’s trending. Facebook’s latest aspiration is to become a better source of news for its users. As such, its creators have developed features like the feed of trending topics, where Facebook curates conversations and articles that are gaining traction online. We’ve noticed that they really like it when Pages share or publish articles about trending topics, and reward these posts with more exposure!
- Switch up the types of content you share. Obviously, you should be sharing content that resonates with your audience, but don’t pigeonhole yourself into a specific style (i.e. only sharing photos or links). Facebook’s new algorithm sees this as somewhat redundant, so it’s important to spice things up here and there by sharing different kinds of content, like sprinkling a few status updates and trending articles among your Page’s popular photo-style posts.
Have you discovered any other helpful strategies to combat your Page’s decreased reach on Facebook? Share your insight in the comments section below!
– Jessica (Copywriter & Social Media Strategist)