How to survive the Facebook Algorithm Changes

Studio B61

The Facebook Algorithm is a source of mystery and frustration for many page owners who use the platform to promote their business. It’s like playing a game where the rules are constantly changing.

Business owners and marketers have been noticing a significant drop in engagement and reach for months, and according to recent headlines it’s only going to get worse. So what’s changing, and what can we do to promote our businesses successfully?

With the increase in media content in our news feed, pressure to crack down on fake news and the ongoing challenge of delivering a quality user experience in a time where attention spans are shorter than ever, Facebook have decided to get stricter about what users see.  Over the next few weeks content from brands will start to disappear from our main news feed - even if we’ve chosen to ‘like’ and follow a page.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a move to destroy small businesses or hamper their marketing efforts. Facebook makes its money from businesses - through advertising revenue and by selling them advertising data. However, they are unable to collect that data or show those adverts if nobody is on the platform, so delivering a quality, engaging user experience is essential. Ultimately, their goal is to increase the amount of time we spend on the platform.

As a business, if you understand this you can work around the algorithm and still use Facebook to promote yourself effectively.

Here’s 8 ways you can start increasing engagement on your page now to make sure you survive the latest algorithm changes:

  1. Optimise individual posts for engagement

Engagement (likes, comments, reactions and shares) is how the Facebook algorithm judges the quality of the post.

Facebook only wants us to see high quality posts in our newsfeed, so when you post something on your page it will show that to a small percentage of your audience and then judge how much engagement you get (and how quickly).

If you get enough for Facebook to consider this a high quality post it will extend the reach.

Make sure you optimise each post for engagement by posting about topics your audience care about. Ask questions and engage them in conversation on ‘hot topics’ in your industry.

  1. Avoid engagement bait

As publishers have realised they need to get engagement to widen their reach, they’ve started asking for it by encouraging people to ‘like this post if you agree’ or ‘comment and share’.

Facebook wants authentic engagement so they’re not going to allow this engagement bait anymore. Instead of asking for engagement, encourage it naturally.

  1. Share shareable content

 Optimise your content for sharing, but remember not to ask for it (avoid engagement bait). The best way to do this is to step into your audience’s shoes and remember the golden rule of social media - it’s not about you, it’s about them. What do they care about? What inspires them? What do they want to talk about? Inspirational quotes, inspiring stories, personal opinions, helpful tips and advice all work really well. It’s about building rapport and an emotional connection. 

  1. Avoid external links

Facebook’s main goal is to get users to spend as much time as possible on the platform.

If you’re constantly sharing external links, your reach will stay low (and so will your engagement) and you won’t be prioritised in the algorithm, even if what you’re linking to is great content. 

  1. Go Live!

Live video is one of Facebook’s newest features, so now is the time to make the most of it.

At the moment, you’ll see a boost in reach for a few days after going live across your page, so it’s well worth doing if you’ve got a big campaign going on.

Try introducing yourself, your business and what you do, showcasing a product in action or talking about a relevant news story if you’re stuck for ideas.

  1. If you want engagement, be engaging

Nobody wants a one-sided conversation. If someone takes time out of their busy day to leave you a comment or share your content on their page - make sure you respond!

  1. Stop using scheduling tools

Most marketing advice will tell you to use scheduling software to save time and put your social media on auto-pilot, but Facebook clearly wants us to share ‘in the moment’ updates - which is why they’ve introduced Live and Stories.

Check your page insights to find the best days and times to post and try posting naturally with no advanced scheduling to increase your reach.

  1. Start boosting posts (strategically)

It’s a well-known fact that it’s increasingly becoming a ‘pay to play’ platform, but don’t let this put you off. Facebook ads is still one of the most cost-effective and targeted forms of paid advertising out there. By spending even a small amount of money on boosted posts regularly,

The Facebook algorithm is on one-hand an ever changing mystery - but the two concepts at the heart of it remain the same. It’s all about relevancy and engagement. To get users to stay on the platform (and earning them money), Facebook wants to serve up the most relevant, engaging and high quality content. As a business, you need to create that content.

Focus on getting to know your audience and you’ll be able to create this naturally across your entire marketing efforts. It’s not entirely clear how the newly announced changes will affect page and post visibility, but relevancy and engagement are core principles of marketing so they are unlikely to go away any time soon.

About the author

Sian Conway is a social media marketing expert and Marketing Director at Studio B61, a communications agency in Bromsgrove dedicated to helping brands get strategic about their growth. Connect with her on Twitter to learn more.