My social media feed is being flooded with posts about the new Facebook algorithm. Many of these posts claim that because of the changes Facebook recently made, people will now only be seeing a select few friends in their feed. Perhaps if you’re a small business owner running a business page, you’re worried people will stop seeing your content. Or perhaps you’re an infrequent user of Facebook who’s simply worried that you’ll stop seeing posts from people you care about.
There seems to be a lot of concern out there, so I thought I’d take the opportunity with this post to clear up what the new algorithm is and how changes to it will actually affect various types of Facebook users.
What is the Algorithm?
If you’re a personal or small business user of Facebook, the words “Facebook algorithm” might not mean much to you. And yet, it’s important because it’s what determines the experience you have on Facebook.
Essentially, the algorithm is a proprietary mathematical equation that helps Facebook understand what’s important to each user. It’s based on how you interact with the content you see. If you click “Like” on content from a business page or click through to visit a post on that page, Facebook will show you more of that content. If you leave comments on some friends’ posts but not others, Facebook determines that you care more about the friends with whom you interact.
What’s changing is that now, Facebook is looking for deeper interaction to determine what to show its users.
The Facebook Rumor Mill
One of the rumors going around about the Facebook algorithm changes is that Facebook will limit your feed to just posts from the 25 friends that you interact with most often. This rumor has led people to post requests for people to interact with them in the form of a gif, longer comment or something more than a simple Like or a “LOL.” I’ve probably seen 10 or 20 of these requests in the last couple of days.
As with most of these urban myths, it’s based on an element of truth. Mark Zuckerberg recently posted that with the new algorithm, Facebook’s goal was to show more content from friends, family and groups, and less content from business pages, media and brands.
Facebook says they’re making these changes to improve people’s well-being. Maybe. More likely, Facebook realizes that the more engaging the content people see in their feed, the longer they spend on the site – and their goal is to keep our eyeballs hooked on Facebook so they can drive ad revenue.
The upshot? Personal profiles shouldn’t be overly affected by the algorithm changes. But if you’re the owner of a business page, it’s a different story.
Facebook Algorithm Impact on Business Pages
The new Facebook algorithm changes will be “throttling” content from sites that primarily post gifs and memes, or business pages that have low rates of interaction, but it does not apply to personal profiles.
The Facebook algorithm changes are good news for most users that are concerned about their personal profiles as it should make your user experience more enjoyable. However, if you have a business page, you need to be paying close attention to the affect that these changes will likely have on your page.
The part you need to pay attention to is this:
Facebook will not be showing as much content from pages with low interaction (posts that are sent out but that result in no real response – no clicks, likes or comments).
This, unfortunately, includes many local business pages. So, if you have a business page, what can you do to make sure your content is seen?
- Publish content that is designed for interaction. Ask questions, or post about news that people are likely to find engaging. Is there a local event that might impact your customers? Get them talking about it. Industry news that’s controversial? Try to get people engaged in a conversation about it.
- Post more meaningful content, less frequently. At one time, a commonly used strategy was to post multiple short snippets of texts, links or images several times a day. You may now be better off posting less often, but with content that is more appealing and thoughtful.
- Learn to use Facebook Live. Facebook’s data shows that Video and Live feeds are more engaging to users, so these will be prioritized above other types of content from business pages. Take advantage of this by trying the Live format. It’s a fast and easy way to create video that engages viewers (yes, it’s awkward at first but you’ll get used to it).
- Pay to have your content seen. Keep in mind that Facebook’s algorithm changes will impact both organic and paid content but will have the largest effect on organic content; that is, content that isn’t sponsored or promoted with an ad. So if you have content that you really want to be seen by the largest number of people (cornerstone blog content, important updates, events, etc.) your best strategy is likely to pay to promote those posts. However, it’s still important to ensure that those ads and the content they promote are engaging.
I hope this post has helped to clarify what the Facebook algorithm is, as well as how the changes will impact the user experience for individuals and business page owners. If you have a question about social media or any aspect of digital marketing, please don’t hesitate to reach out.