Facebook tops the list of best social networking platforms with 1.13 billion daily active users as of June 2016. This is the reason why almost 30 million small businesses actively participate on this platform. For businesses, both large and small, Facebook offers an excellent opportunity to expand their reach and improve their brand awareness. Almost every marketer out there wishes to dominate Facebook but just as they are about to crack the secret, they are bombarded with a new update.
Facebook has made the way to the top only because it has successfully catered to the needs of its users and offered them with excellent user experiences. And they are working constantly towards making the experience even better. This is one reason why the top social media networks have gravitated towards algorithm-based feed; this ensures a personalized experience for the user. Facebook was the first one to make the move in 2006, followed by Twitter in 2015. Instagram will soon join the other two, according to news sources.
While updates ensure a better experience for users, it can come as a big challenge for the businesses, since it affects the Facebook Page’s presence and performance. Luckily Facebook has been revealing more and more about its News Feeds Algorithms in terms of what they support, what they don’t and how businesses can do to cope with the changes, making it easier for marketers to channelize their efforts.
The Downfall of Facebook Organic Social Reach
Facebook shifted from organic search to News feed in 2006 and introduced major changes in the Facebook News Feed in 2014 since they were not happy with how businesses were using their Business Pages. The changes were mostly based on the feedbacks they received from their users.
Many people believe the changes were introduced because Facebook wanted to make more money; but that not completely true. While Facebook has had the intentions of pushing their own paid advertising modules, user experience was clearly their first priority. According to Brian Cristiano, a Reddit user, the changes were introduced to offer the users with better engagement. So they encourage what offers best engagement and ignore the rest.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of product management for News Feed also explains why they introduced the News Feeds algorithm – people share an enormous amount of content every day and the algorithm helps them serve only highly engaging posts to the users. If the users don’t see what they are interested in, they leave dissatisfied and never come back.
How Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Works
According to Facebook, an average user can access more than 1500 posts every day but the user looks only at 300 of them. Facebook algorithm is a program that considers thousands of factors, signals, and preferences (of the users) to determine which posts should be among the 300 posts that the user actually sees. It is a process through which Facebook curates the enormous amount of content and offers only the ones that offer the highest engagement.
Initially, the ‘Like’ button acted as a major element that helped Facebook team understand the user’s preferences but now Facebook uses more than 100,000 factors to determine which posts should show up in the user’s news feeds, according to Matt McGee, Editor in Chief at Marketing Land. Some of the obvious factors include:
- How close you are with a specific person – in terms of how frequently you ‘like’ or comment on their posts, write on their timelines, or talk to them on messenger
- Next the type of posts is a major factor – people who click more links will be served with more links and those who watch videos will be offered with more videos
- The subject of the links or videos is also considered. For instance, if you ‘like’ a few videos that show recipes, you can expect more recipe videos to come up
- There are some less intuitive factors as well such as a user checking out Facebook on his mobile phone with a slow connection may see lesser number of videos and more of links
However, according to Facebook, ‘The exact calculus that determines how all these factors coalesce is in constant flux’. So what would you do to ensure your content remains on top of the news feeds of your targeted audience? Let’s explore.
Improve Facebook News Feeds Presence
If you want your content to be seen by your targeted audience, here is how you can win in this constantly changing environment:
Identify What Your Audience Likes
Your users are likely to share and like posts which offer maximum engagement. Use analytics to identify the type of content that is preferred by your targeted audience. Create personas to determine what kind of content will be useful for your audience and offer the best engagement.
According to Facebook, it will now consider the time spent reading or watching content as a signal to determine whether a particular content was important for a user or not. If you ‘like’ the content after reading or watching it, it would be considered as a stronger signal.
So if you want your content to be seen by your audience more often, make sure they spend more time to consume it. To attract the users towards your content, you can create an irresistible headline; but make sure you offer what you promise. The trick is to create longer videos or content (but not too long) so that hold the users for longer.
Tag Related Pages
Tagging other pages is a strategy that has been used by marketers and it still can be useful. If you tag pages related to your content, your content will be seen by people who are following the tagged pages. So if you post a video about recipes, you can tag a post that talk about healthy foods and expands the reach of your content.
Take the example below:
Here a user follows Dwight Howard’s Facebook page, this means he will see relevant posts from Howard’s page. But if you take a closer look at the post we are talking about, you will see it is from Bleacher Report’s Facebook page.
This happened because Bleacher Report tagged Dwight Howard in its post. So, according to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, it considers relevant for everyone who follows Dwight Howard.
Share More Visual Content than Text
Visual content offers better engagement than text content. Researchers found that the willingness to read a piece of content increases by 80 percent if it includes colored visuals. 65 percent of senior marketing executives believe visual content such as photos, video, illustrations, and infographics impact how their brand story is communicated to their audience.
Visual content aids story-telling, so it is more compelling to the users. So you can improve the level of engagement by including an image or short video to your text updates.
Avoid Re-posting Content
The Facebook News Feed algorithm restricts spammy posts by all means. So sharing the same content over and over again can send out the wrong signals. A number of users complained that the pages they like or follow were sharing the same photos and videos too often which affected the level of user experience.
Re-purposing content is good; you can even share relevant content from other’s pages, but refrain from sharing old and redundant content again and again.
Link Baits and Click Baits a Big No-No
Link-bait is a technique where a business or person explicitly asks its followers to like, share or comment on a particular post, to maximize the reach. Here is an example:
Facebook took a strong stand against link-baits in 2014, so if your marketing strategy depends solely on link-baits Facebook will track them down and show lesser stories to the readers. Avoid using terms like “like”, “comment” or “share” in your updates.
Click-baiting is when a Page posts a click-worthy update but actually does not offer relevant information once the user clicks on the link. Here is one example:
By Facebook has come up with ways to identify click-baits by considering the amount of time spent on these links and number of people clicking on the links vs. the number of people engaging with the content.
If you use compelling headlines to attract attention, make sure you offer relevant information as well. If you don’t, get ready to see the number of stories from your Page dwindle.
Not using Trending Topics to Your Advantage
Facebook recently introduced the ‘Trending Topics’ feature and it works similar to that of Twitter. This feature shows topics that have become popular on this platform. Facebook has gone a step ahead to personalize this feature for its users; it lists topics that the users would prefer to read about. For instance, if you are not interested in Sports, you might not see too many news about sports.
If you want to use trending topics to your advantage, search for topics that are relevant to your business. Then create content around that topic but make sure the content is relevant to your business. Make sure you use trending hashtags to increase the visibility of the post. The performance of your post can increase by 20 to 30 percent if you use the trending topics.
For instance, #BurningMan2016 was recently one of the trending topics, so if you deal with tours and travel business, you can create a post surrounding it. Create an engaging post (text post or video) around it and use ‘#BurningMan2016’ when you post the content. Something like this:
Posting frequently can increase the performance of your content dramatically. By increasing the post volume by 45 percent per week, you can achieve 10 percent increase in likes per post, 76 percent increase in outbound clicks and 47 percent increase in the number of fans and followers.
The best way to increase overall participation is to share content in a variety of formats – links, photos, videos, and other content. Use call-to-actions in your posts to engage people, but make sure you offer high-quality content and relevant information as well.
Convince Influencers to Post Your Content
Publishing content through influential profiles, other than your own page can have a great impact on your campaign. The key is to find influencers in your niche and convince them to post your content through their profiles. Influencers have a huge following and whatever the influencers say, has an immense impact on their followers. Start-ups can especially benefit from this technique.
But you need to come up very high-quality content that is relevant to the influencer’s audience. Remember, the influencer’s reputation is at stake when he agrees to post someone else’s content; so make sure you come up with the best content ever.
Influencers often prefer using photo and video content when marketing other brands; so it is best if you can create visual content or textual content which is enhanced with visuals.
Facebook aims towards offering its users with high-quality user experience and the only way to win at Facebook marketing is to offer excellent user experience. The Facebook News Feeds gives importance to content that offers engagement to its users and ignores everything else; so if you are focusing only on user acquisition, you might not be able to go too far!
Establish strong relations with your users by offering what they expect and you will be at the top of their priority list.