Understand the latest changes to the Facebook algorithm to be more successful on Facebook
At the beginning of November 2017, Facebook published its latest figures along with its guidelines for the latest Facebook algorithm. Let’s first talk about the recent user numbers of Facebook before we dive into the algorithm.
For Q3 2017, Facebook counted 2.07 billion monthly users. In September 2017, Facebook had 1.37 billion daily active users. Both numbers are a 16% increase compared to one year ago. Instagram in comparison has 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users. With these kinds of growing numbers chances are quite high that your target audience is also ready to be reached on Facebook.
Speaking of reach, many businesses on Facebook, including me, see their reach stagnate or even decline on the platform. Facebook posting strategies of the past no longer seem to be working as well as they used to. In fact, only 1-4% of the people liking your page will actually see your content organically. According to Facebook, this is due to two factors.
The first one is that there is more content being created on Facebook and users like more and more pages. Facebook calculates that there are on average 1.500 stories available to be shown on a person’s News Feed every time they log in. For very active and social Facebook users, this number can be as high as 15.000 stories at any given time. In other words, the competition for your Facebook post has increased.
The second factor is the Facebook algorithm itself. Facebook shows users the content most relevant to the user. Of the 1.500 stories available at each given time to the Facebook user, Facebook evaluates each story based on thousands of factors (aka the algorithm) in relevance to the user’s interests and his previous behaviour. In other words, if your content is not the most relevant and engaging to your audience it will not be shown.
With this background in mind, what can we actually do to get your messages out there. Facebook has recently published their ‘News Feed Publisher Guidelines’ which explain in detail what businesses should do to be more successful on the platform. You can access the full 13-page document here but I have also written a short summary for you:
1 Publish meaningful and informative content relevant for your target audience
- In the past businesses posted lots and lots of content every day with a wide reach. However, more quantity often meant less quality. This is something Facebook is trying to change by encouraging businesses to create less content with higher quality, meaning and relevance for the targeted user. Higher quality ensures that users will stay longer engaged on the platform and have a better experience with you and with the platform.
- Facebook is also encouraging us to use a broader variation story telling. Recently the algorithm preferred video content over photos. Now, we should aim to publish our content in multiple formats like video, live video, instant articles, photos, animations, podcasts etc. The more we alternate our formats the more the algorithm will show our content to our audience.
- As Facebook wants content that is relevant and valuable for the audience, it also encourages us to better research and understand our target audiences. For this Facebook gives us many different tools such as the page insights, the Facebook Pixel and a new tool called CrowdTangl. CrowdTangle lets you find out who is sharing your website content and helps you build a list of your competitors.
- Another important element to understand is that Facebook will become more and more like Google, meaning it will become more keyword oriented. Facebook wants to encourage us to research keywords before we post our stories to find the most relevant keywords to use in our post. We should also find out which keywords are trending to inspire more similar content creation.
- As already mentioned, Facebook wants to improve the user’s experience wherever possible. This includes how long a user needs to wait when opening a link to a website outside of Facebook. This means, if your website loads slowly (like mine does), Facebook is penalising your post through the algorithm. Make sure your website loads quickly. Alternatively, load content like Blog Posts into Facebook Instant Articles. Instant Articles will keep Facebook users on the platform and get preferred by the algorithm.
2 Publish accurate and authentic content
Especially after the crisis of Facebook being heavily used to influence political elections, the platform’s algorithm also has the goal to avoid misleading information or spam being spread. Keep the following tips in mind for your next Facebook post:
- It is against Facebook policy to post stories that are spam or promote violence, harassment, bullying, hate etc.
- Whenever you post content to Facebook make sure that you are not posting misleading information or headlines. Avoid to sensationalise your post or withhold information to get people to click through to your page. Facebook will withhold these kinds of messages or even ban your account.
- There are also certain words that you should avoid using such as ‘like us’, ‘free’, ‘buy’, ‘discount’, ‘sponsor’ etc. When you use these kinds of words in a post, Facebook will limit its reach because it would prefer you put some advertising on your post instead. Here is a helpful list of words to avoid and how to circumvent them published by Moolah.
Summary: How to play the Facebook Algorithm
- High engagement posts are important: Create Facebook posts that are of high value and meaning and that your target audience wants to like and share.
- Know your audience: Research your target audience thoroughly to deliver the right kind of content to them.
- Be on brand: Make sure your posts are suitable for your target audience, your brand and your page.
- Keywords: Keep in mind that keywords become more relevant on Facebook.
- Use diverse type of content: Communicate your content through video, live video, instant articles, images, link, polls etc.
- Website speed: Improve the loading time of your website if needed to ensure a smooth user experience between Facebook and your website.
- Quality over quantity: Create less content and instead create great content.
- Be good and don’t spam.
Hopefully, this little summary of the latest Facebook algorithm changes and guidelines has been helpful to you and your business. Is there a method that works well for you and your Facebook page? Please let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.