Believe it or not, your attention is a commodity to Facebook. Which is why Facebook has been busy tweaking it's News Feed algorithm. Facebook wants to make sure that their users are engaged by the most relevant material as possible. Usually, these updates, which they are always working on, are for the better. However, these updates can also cause some trouble as far as marketers are concerned. Recently Facebook announced what marketers should be aware of if they want to make the most of the already decreasing organic reach.
Here's a look at how the various News Feed updates have attributed to the decline of organic reach:
- August 2016: the update's goal was to improve the individual relevance of the stories shown to each user
- January 2017: they sought to better identify and rank authentic content
- May 2017: the goal was to reduce the reach of links to sites covered with ads and reduce to reach the reach of click bait
- August 2017: a reiteration for the need of mobile optimization, penalizing links to non-optimized pages.
Granted, there's a lot to talk about. But it doesn't hurt to have a crash course on Facebook's News Feed algorithm. Facebook is full of users and brands alike. So it makes sense that the amount of content shared on a daily basis is HUGE. Which means that competition is extremely high. As a way to manage this, and to ensure that each user gets a relevant experience, Facebook's News Feed Algorithm measures over a thousand different factors. Just so they can sift through the noise.
Facebook's New Algorithm Update
The updates below are only a little bit of what Facebook considers whenever it chooses which content to share. However, they are extremely relevant for marketers looking to make the most of their Facebook presence.
Update #1: For Videos, Intent and Repeat Viewership Matter
Video is a HUGE trend in marketing. Especially marketing on Facebook. But the key is to post videos that people will actually want to watch. Facebook's Algorithm update in mid-December gives preference to videos that people are actively searching for and returning to Facebook to watch.
This is broken down into two factors:
- Intent – If someone is going out of their way to find your video content via a search on Facebook, or going directly to your page, your videos will then get better distribution. Which means it will reach more people.
- Repeat Viewership – if someone watches a video from the same publisher, that publisher's video will get shown in the News Feed. This makes it easier for new people to discover that content.
So, what’s the takeaway? Please, please, please don't make video just to make a video. In order to get value out of your social video, especially on Facebook, you need to make content that people will WANT to watch. If you create something that they want to watch, the will come back to view it more than once. You can even focus on episodic content in order to boost repeat viewership on future posts.
Update #2: Engagement Bait Will Be Devalued
Oh man, who all have seen those posts that start with "Share with a friend" or "Like this if..."? I'm happy to share with you all that these types of posts will automatically be devalued. So yeah, we'll be seeing less of them in the future.
This update will affect both people and pages that use this spammy approach as a way to get engagement. Facebook is taking this change seriously too. They've managed to create a machine learning model that detects a certain type of Engagement Bait. This tactic will punish both people and pages who repeatedly use this type of bait in their posts. High fives all around, people.
So how do you know what qualifies as 'Engagement Bait'? Here are some examples of what to avoid at all costs:
- Tag Baiting - Asking people to tag friends.
- Comment Baiting - Asking people to comment with specific answers (like words, phrases, or emojis).
- Share Baiting - Asking people to share the post with their friends.
- React Baiting - Asking people to react to the post (includes like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry).
- Vote Baiting - Asking people to vote using reactions, comments, sharing, or other means of representing a vote.
Facebook has stated that if a Page Admins post authentic content, they shouldn't really notice a difference.
Update #3: Links to Low-Quality Websites Will Be Devalued
We all know that there is a lot of spam and junk out there on the internet. It's like junk mail day every day, right where you don't want it. Surprisingly a lot of the internet's spam gets fed by social media traffic. Facebook wants to help users avoid all the junk by devaluing links to websites that provide a poor web experience.
Facebook took their time and reviewed hundreds of thousands of different pages linked to from Facebook. Their list was chock full of common characteristics that may indicate if a website has low-value or spammy content.
How can you be sure that this update doesn’t tank organic reach to your web pages?
- Make sure that your landing pages don't have malicious, disruptive or shocking ads.
- Your page load speed must be up to snuff - slow loading sites will likely be affected.
- You should also have substantial content on your landing pages - so make sure to put time into the landing pages where you intend to send your visitors.
- Monitor your bounce rate and pages per session metrics. If people go deeper into your site, it's a good sign.
Yes, these updates might be a giant pain for marketers, but Facebook really has gone above and beyond in terms of providing a great user experience. After all, Facebook has always been a place to connect and discover. So it's really important to maintain awareness of Facebook's various updates. That way you can make sure to evolve your strategies.
So What Can You Do?
No matter how you look at it, Facebook is a huge way to boost your referral traffic for tons of websites. But a lot of them rely heavily on Facebook to push their numbers. But relying too much on Facebook can be a huge risk. It's better to diversify your traffic sources and build your own email list. What I'm trying to say is that it's REALLY important to consider how much you can maximize your opportunities outside of Facebook.
Honestly, there's really no answer on how you can improve your performance on Facebook. Some brands have success when they post less often. That old adage of less is more can be an attractive marketing strategy, but it's hard to say whether it will actually work for your business. Surprisingly enough some post more often, which is something that Facebook recommends in their own documentation...
"Post frequently - Don't worry about over-posting. The goal of News Feed is to show each person the most relevant story so not all of your posts are guaranteed to show in their Feeds."
If you post more often, and you get less engagement per post, that could still average out to an increase in your overall numbers - but you need to watch your negative feedback measures (unfollows and unlikes) before you judge the results. Still, your best bet is to encourage engagement, spark conversation, and generate more reach through interaction.
It doesn't hurt to follow a few rules to maximize your marketing efforts either:
Be Consistent and Timely. The first rule of thumb is to post frequently. It can mean different things to different brands. Some brands really excel with two posts a day. It’s a good place to start but it’s important to remember to do some trial and error. Your results will help you determine what’s right for you. The goal is to post frequently. Especially if you want to build engagement and post impressions.
This method works because the average Facebook feed generates hundreds of content from favorite companies and the people you follow. This is why it’s crucial to not overdo it when it comes to posting. Two posts a day guarantees consistency and a higher chance to be discovered without coming off as annoying
Keep Your Posts Short and Specific. Posts shouldn’t be too long. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep your organic posts to about one to one and a half lines in desktop view – two at the most. But be careful, because two lines could also appear too-lengthy. The goal is to keep your audience’s attention. So whenever you add a few extra words it might do more harm than good. Most of the big-name brands have success with shorter, more concise content.
Understand Your Audience. Your audience on Instagram can be completely different than your audience on Facebook or Twitter. So it’s really important that you format your messaging with those differences in mind. For LinkedIn and Facebook, you should ALWAYS change the message, despite having the same asset. This is why you should study your audience and know exactly how to target them. A few things to take into consideration whenever you make tailored posts is to focus on their age, gender, region/location, etc.
Transparency In Advertising. Not too long ago, Facebook announced ad transparency and authenticity features. People will be able to click “View Ads” on a page and view the ads that the page is running on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. They can do this even if they aren’t in the intended target for the ad. This means that all pages will be part of this. It makes it so all ads will be associated with a Page as part of the ad creation process.
It's Important To Track & Measure Your Results
Don't forget to track your efforts! Marketing without a plan for tracking and measuring results is a pretty bad idea. It ends up with a lot of guesswork and underperformance. Thankfully you can do this right in Facebook. They offer a pretty extensive Page Insights feature to help you analyze your Page. You can analyze it as a whole or specific posts.
- "Likes" Insights. The "Likes" section will help you determine how many likes you gain or lose each day. On the "Net Likes" graphs you'll see the number of new likes, minus the number of unlikes on a day-to-day basis. You can also click and drag on the graph to make the date range shorter or longer. There's also a "Benchmark" section located on the right-hand side where you can compare your average performance.
- "Reach" Insights. This tab shows you the number of people your posts were seen by. This is broken down by organic and paid traffic. So, the more likes, comments, and shares a post gets, the more it shows up in the News Feed. However, the same thing will happen the more people hide a post or mark it as spam, which results in the post getting seen by less.
- "Page Views" Insights. This helps you figure out how people got to your Page and where they go once they're there. The "Top Sources" graph shows which external links bring you the most traffic. This is typically your website, blog, or a search engine.
- "Posts" Insights. This is by far the most useful. At the top, there is a graph of when your fans are actually online. This is extremely useful for when you build your social media content calendar and schedule posts. Below your insights is a record of ALL of your published posts in reverse chronological order, plus their metrics. It's a good idea to monitor this chart so you can track your results and learn what type of posts your audience tends to engage with.
We hope this explains Facebook's News Feed update. With Facebook the trick is to be deliberate in what you share when you share and how you engage with your audience. It doesn't hurt to be helpful either. The more you offer something that your audience can actually use, the better. They'll end up coming back for even more. And what marketer doesn't love that? Are you worried about Facebook's New Algorithm Update? Will you change any of your tactics? Let us know in the comments below, so we can discuss!