Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re probably aware of how often Facebook updates features on its platform. Many businesses have relied on their organic content to connect and inform their audiences, but over the years, reaching the same number of people has become more difficult. That’s because Facebook’s News Feed algorithm constantly changes and has evolved to the point that machine learning actually remembers what we engage with in order to best serve us the type of content that it thinks will be most valuable to consumers. If you don’t know what a “News Feed algorithm” is, then the following information will be helpful in identifying critical information missing from your organic content strategy.
Facebook’s Algorithm Over the Years
Your News Feed is the content that appears when you’re in the “Home” tab/section of Facebook. It’s where you scroll and see all types of content, from your friend’s and family’s photos, to content from business pages you follow appear. You also see “Sponsored” ads in this section. It’s a big part of what makes Facebook, Facebook.
Before we learn about the ways to optimize your content so that it appears on the News Feed, it’s important to take a look back and explore the platform’s evolution:
2006: At this point in time, the algorithm was simple in that different types of posts were assigned different point values. For example, a post with plain text might be worth one point, whereas a post with a link might be worth two. Facebook would then multiply the post’s point value by the number of people that engaged with the post and that’s how Facebook created its first ranking system to determine the relevance of content.
2009: Facebook created EdgeRank, an algorithm that used three variables: affinity, weight, and time decay, to determine what appeared in a user’s News Feed.
2011: Facebook abandoned EdgeRank and incorporated the first machine learning algorithm, which is responsible for serving users content that appears in their News Feeds today.
Around 2012, people who managed business pages started reporting that only a fraction of their fans/followers were seeing their page’s posts--a number that dropped even further in 2014. EdgeRank Checker did a study and concluded that between 2012 and 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook page dropped from 16% to 6.5%.
In 2016, SocialFlow measured a 52% decline in organic reach between January and July after Facebook tweaked the algorithm to prioritize content from friends and family over content from Pages. At the beginning 2018, Facebook was still prioritizing this type of content; however, it established new guidelines to make it more apparent which type of content would take priority on the News Feed. That content came to be:
Content shared on Facebook Messenger.
Content that is “liked” or commented on.
Content that receives more than one reply.
Content that created “meaningful interactions” between users.
Fast forward to 2019, and these guidelines still apply to the News Feed. While these constant changes may be inevitable, there are many ways to ensure optimal organic content Page performance. Four tips to keep your content fresh in Facebook’s eyes are:
Provide value to your audience.
Adopt video in all ways.
Put money behind content with organic momentum.
Start Conversations & Provide Value
When planning content for your organic strategy, keep your audience in mind. Your content should prompt people to stop, interact, and share content with one another. It should evoke a specific feeling followed by a specific action. Getting engagement on a post goes beyond the “likes” and comments. Facebook prioritizes content that starts conversations. Creating this type of content is beneficial because conversation is valuable when it comes to businesses--after all, you want to hear what your customers have to say!
Writing content that provides value to your audience is vital. When writing content for your business, it’s helpful to balance content that promotes products, education/information, and lifestyle imagery. Consider using the following tip: Pick three to four content pillars that align with your brand and goals. For example, let’s say you have a car dealership page. If you are constantly pushing out branding content that only promotes the vehicles you sell, over time, your audience is going to tire of the same content. What can you do to mix things up? Try promoting local events happening in your community, ask customers which vehicle model they prefer in a poll, or post a funny video featuring some behind-the-scenes action.
This type of content not only shows that you’re out to sell, but also reveals your work culture. Customers want to know who they are buying from and this type of content gives them valuable insight. Furthermore, content that drives human interaction will almost always outperform any self-promotions.
Pull Out Your Phone & Hit “Record”
While it’s not a fact that video will always outperform static imagery, video will usually generate more engagement because it has more to offer by actually making your audience stop their scrolling even if for just a second. Databox surveyed 26 marketers and determined that they leverage about a 50/50 split using video and static images in their Facebook ads. However, almost 60% of them said video tends to drive more engagement. does So if you haven’t already, it’s time to roll some into your strategy.
WIth one of our clients, Direct Orthopedic Care Dallas, we set up a traffic campaign to lead our audience to a landing page to submit their information in order to set up a consultation. From the beginning we used a static image alongside a video. In May of 2019, the static image generated 18 Landing Page Views while the video generated 2,255 Landing Page Views! Most people will agree that video generates more engagement, but you won’t truly know which type of creative will perform better until you test it yourself.
If you’re new to using video, don’t be intimidated--it’s easy to get the hang of and most can be easily executed by using a mobile phone. There are endless topics that you can cover and they don’t have to be professionally shot, long, or boring. People have short attention spans, so the quicker your content gets to the point, the more often it will get seen, and the better it should perform. A few ideas for video content that can easily be shot on your mobile phone:
Spend Money Where It Counts
If you keep track of the engagement you receive on your organic posts, take note of when specific posts get great engagement in “likes,” shares, and comments because those are perfect opportunities to “boost” posts. Doing so will further improve how posts perform. Think of it this way: When you come across a post that has zero “likes,” you probably won’t engage with it even if you think it’s funny. However, when a post is funny AND has received high engagement, you’re more likely to interact and tag your friends because you can see that other people think the post is funny as well. “Boosting” for engagement works in a similar way: You’re paying for Facebook to show it to more people who are “most likely to engage” with the post, and the more people like it, the better the odds they will engage with it.
Facebook may decide, at any point, to tweak its algorithm. In the meantime, don’t overthink the content that you publish for your business or organization. Just pick and stick to your three to four content pillars, create conversation around those topics, and offer a variety of content (images, polls, videos, GIFs). Remember to be authentic and provide value to your audience--whether it’s informational or entertainment. As long as you follow these basic guidelines, you should notice a change in engagement. If you get started and still aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for, consider some professional guidance. We’re always here to help!