In late August, Facebook announced that it would be introducing a new newsfeed ranking algorithm to make sure that its users received more “timely” content. The goal of the change, according to Facebook, is to put time-sensitive posts on trending topics, such as a Sunday night football game a TV season premiere, at the top of users’ newsfeeds while the update is still relevant, and to promote engaging content from trusted sources.
Here’s what Facebook had to say about the new algorithm:
“Every day people see millions of Pages on Facebook in their News Feed. Our goal is to show the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. As part of that we want to make sure the best quality content is being produced, surfaced and shared. Our latest update to the News Feed ranking algorithm helps ensure that the organic content people see from Pages they are connected to is the most interesting to them.”
So what does all this mean for businesses that have Pages on Facebook? Organic Facebook reach for businesses has been plummeting for the past several years (Entrepreneur reported back in April that the reach of Page posts for large companies dropped from 16% to 2% over the course of the past two years), and this newest change seem as if it will make it even more challenging for businesses, large and small, to naturally reach their Facebook audience. However, there are strategies that savvy social marketers can use to make the most of the latest algorithm change and keep Facebook users engaged.
Best Practices for Marketing with the Latest Facebook Algorithm Change 2014
Produce high-quality posts. The most obvious way to give your posts the best chance of being seen is to make sure they are relevant to the intended audience and will be considered “high-quality” by Facebook’s new algorithm. To understand what Facebook means by high-quality, let’s look at some of the questions that they asked users in the course of developing the new algorithm:
- Is this content timely and relevant?
- Do you trust the source that produced this content?
- Would you share this content or recommend it to friends?
- Is this content producer trying to game the News Feed system (e.g. posting things that say “Like this!”)?
- Would you consider this post low-quality or a meme?
- Would you complain if this content appeared in your News Feed?
With an increased emphasis on high-quality content, many businesses may find that it is actually better to post less frequently but spend more time on content than it is to churn out lower-quality posts on a more frequent basis.
Cross-promote campaigns through email and other social platforms. Instead of putting all your eggs in one social media basket, make sure that you are simultaneously targeting other social platforms and your email subscribers when you release an important Facebook update. If you are able to increase engagement by driving more viewers to the Facebook post, your post is more likely to appear high up in the News Feeds of people who like your Page.
Test and optimize Facebook content. Since Facebook is essentially getting more picky about what posts they promote, it’s important to test different types of posts and even the time of day that you share your content, measure the impact, and optimize your content accordingly. While the type of content, day of the week, and time of day that gets the most engagement will depend to some extent on your vertical, the social media app company Buffer has done their own analysis and recommends posting to Facebook two times per day, seven days a week, at 10:08 am and 3:04 pm for the greatest engagement.
Encourage user-generated content. Another way to build engagement is to run a competition, such as a photo contest or a fill-in-the-blank post, that encourages users to share their own content while also promoting yours. Facebook users trust word-of-mouth more than they trust brands, so seeing content that their friends like or have engaged with will help encourage them to trust your content and engage with your brand themselves.
Paying to Boost Your Page’s Views
While there are obviously techniques that can help give your brand’s posts a better chance of being seen, it is still challenging for businesses to have a large organic reach, and many companies are beginning to find that the time and effort they put into producing world-class content isn’t getting good results unless they pay to boost their posts. To go back to the less-is-more argument, most businesses find that it’s better to create fewer posts but pay to boost them than to create more posts (even if those posts appear to be high-quality) and not to boost them at all. I’ll be talking more about the benefits of boosting your content in an upcoming post.