Conceptual Facebook Algorithm

The Facebook algorithm change: how to make it work for you

Back in January, Facebook announced an algorithm change which, in the words of the site’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, was designed to “bring people closer together and build relationships”. No more news feeds dominated by professionally made content from brands, corporates and the media. Instead, posts from friends and family would take priority, leaving those that prompted passive interactions only – likes and shares, for example, but little else – trailing at the bottom of the Facebook news feed pile.

Over two months later, and how has Facebook’s algorithm change affected the way we post online? What should we be concentrating on and, most importantly, how can we adapt our social media strategies to ensure our Facebook posts are still being seen by our relevant target audience? Read on for our top five tips on how to make Facebook’s new algorithm work for you…

  1. Create content that generates interactions

We’re starting with the most obvious one, but post-algorithm change, content really is king. The days of creating a funny meme that receives enough likes to go viral are gone. Instead, you need to think hard about what your audiences want to read, and create and share interesting content that they will react to and converse about. What constitutes ‘interesting’ will vary from brand to brand and from customer to customer. The key point here is that the content needs to generate active interaction, such as a comment or share between friends, to be deemed of high value. What you are trying to do, as Facebook has put it, is encourage posts that “inspire back-and-forth discussion” in the comments and generate real conversation. Before you post online, try running through this checklist first in your head:

• Is the copy written using language and a tone that will resonate with your audience?
• Is the photo or image appealing to them?
• Are you asking a relevant question to your audience?
• Is the piece of information you are sharing something they will care about?
• Are they likely to want to comment on it or share it with a friend?

In the midst of all this, be careful not to fall into the trap of accidentally producing engagement bait, as this will have the opposite effect on your visibility. But more on that in a moment…

2. Reach the right people with the right posts…at the right time

Part of generating the right content is knowing your target audience. General posts aimed at a mass audience will not typically inspire much interaction. So treat the new algorithm change as a much-needed wake-up call and get back into the mindset of your target audience: analyse your Facebook insights and get a clear understanding of their makeup. Who is your fanbase? Who typically responds to your posts and at what time of day? Where do they live and what gender or age are they? What else are they interested in? Once you know your audience groups, you can tailor your content to each audience individually if necessary in order to make it as authentic, compelling and useful as possible. And the more relevant it is, the more likely your fans will interact with the content…

3.   Feature individual users in your content

Engagement baiting – content which encourages commenting, tagging or sharing with little real value created – has been under scrutiny by Facebook for some time. These ‘click bait’ posts are to be avoided now at all costs, because they will only demote your post down the news feed. Don’t ask yes or no questions – ‘do you  like vintage cars?’ Instead, try to ignite conversation amongst your audience group: ‘How do you look after your vintage car in the cold weather? Tell us your tips to protect your pride and joy from the freezing temps and read our top tips here.’

4.  Embrace video….but go live

As a result of the Facebook algorithm shift, pre-recorded videos, no matter how entertaining or informative they are, could end up being demoted in the news feed as well. This is because Facebook deems watching video to be a relatively passive exercise which seldom ignites conversation or debate. This is a bit of a reversal for Facebook: in the last couple of years, video has in fact gained significant prominence in the news feed and has been an very effective way for brands to organically generate reach and engagement. But there is hope. In our last blog, we emphasised the benefits of Facebook Live , specifically the fact that it tended to generate six times as many interactions as regular videos. Perhaps not surprisingly then, Facebook has moved the spotlight directly onto live video because these types of videos tend to generate the sort of person-to-person interaction Facebook is looking for. If you don’t want to go live, then make your video content something really unique and engaging that will appeal to your audience and which will prompt genuine conversation.

5.  Set up niche communities through Facebook Groups

With the emphasis on tailored content and person-to-person interactions, now is the perfect time to think about using Facebook Groups. More than one billion people around the world use them already and it’s something Zuckerberg specifically referred to when announcing the algorithm change. Groups are a great way to build an active and engaged community around topics, issues and causes that your audiences really care about. Whether it’s travel, interiors, the environment…there’s a large group of people out there just waiting to connect with like-minded folk and comment on and share content that matters to them. Last year, Facebook also announced changes to its Groups for Business Pages, allowing brands to create their own distinct communities and feeds. This handy step-by-step guide shows you how to go about it. Utilise Groups for Pages, and you really will be making Facebook work for you.

Summary

Whilst it’s easy to view the Facebook algorithm shift in a negative way, there is a lot of potential good to come out of it. Few people actually enjoy seeing their Facebook feed crammed full of low-quality click-bait. By actively demoting these in the news feed, Facebook is making it easier for legitimate companies that put out interesting and engaging content to actually be seen. Yes, the new emphasis on person-to-person interactions may reduce the amount of content consumed directly from your pages and your organic reach may suffer as a consequence. But it’s a great opportunity to reassess your target audiences, revamp your content strategy and create posts that actually resonate with your fan base. If the posts you are putting out there receive little or no comments and shares, then it’s inevitable that you’ll see a substantial decrease in your organic reach. But if you work hard on your content, focus on engagements rather than reach and spark interaction, then there’s a real opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps best of all, with less click bait around, there is much needed space: space for better quality content that will generate more meaningful interactions between people. And that, in the words of Zuckerberg himself, will help ensure that time spent by your users on Facebook “is time well spent”.

If you need help with your social media marketing or if you think your business could benefit by handing over some digital marketing activities to a skilled, experienced agency, ring Mark today at ID³ on 01225 866416 or email: mark@idcubed.co.uk.

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