If you’re wondering why your Facebook reach and engagement is down, you’re not alone. In late 2019, the average reach for Facebook posts dropped by 2.2%. For brands, this meant that posts were only being seen by 5.5% of their followers. Larger brands with bigger follower counts saw averages even lower. Why? The Facebook algorithm.
In 2019, Facebook made a big change to its algorithm by giving users more control over what they see on their news feed, even giving users an option to find out why a certain post is showing up on their feed.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that agents and agencies can do to make sure that users are seeing their posts—even without the help of paid ads. In this article, we’re going to share a quick overview of how the Facebook algorithm works and how you can make it work for you.
How the Facebook algorithm works
The Facebook algorithm, like search engine algorithms, ranks all the posts that have the possibility of being shown on a user’s news feed based on how likely a user will have a positive reaction to that content. Facebook prioritises posts from friends over brands, emphasising “meaningful interactions.”
What that means is that the algorithm looks for 4 main factors or signals:
- An ‘inventory’ of the posts available to show
- What each post is about and its popularity
- Predictions on how users will respond to the post, based on past similar posts
- Final score based on all of the above
How to use the algorithm effectively
Since Facebook’s algorithm focuses on building more authentic or meaningful interactions, you’ll need to create better content with the intent of driving real interactions. So how can you do that?
- Post content at the right time
The algorithm prioritises content with more engagement, so it’s important to understand when your audience is online and most active so you can post during those peak times.
Keep an eye on your Facebook metrics so you can fine-tune the best postings times for your specific audiences.
- Post often and regularly
If you’re posting consistently, you are more likely to get better engagement. Facebook’s algorithm rewards recency, so aim to publish high quality frequently.
We strongly recommend you create a content calendar so you have content ready to go. Drive maximum engagement by including a mix of content including listings, blog posts that answer your audiences’ questions and fun/entertainment posts.
- Include video content
Video content has been increasing in popularity over the last few years and there are 3 factors to consider when creating video content for Facebook:
- Intent and loyalty – create videos that give your audience a reason to come back again and again
- Length and duration – your video needs to be engaging enough to get viewers watching for at least one minute, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep them engaged for longer than three minutes
- Originality – like all social platforms, Facebook prefers original content that isn’t repurposes from other platforms.
Also, don’t rule out Facebook live. When you go live, your followers are notified which is sure to increase engagement.
- Drive discussion instead of fishing for engagement
You know those posts you used to see all the time; “like if you remember this” or “comment a number and I’ll do this?” Well, Facebook is now penalising brands using those same tactics to get comments, tags, and likes.
While that doesn’t mean you should never use posts like that (they can be an engaging way to poll your followers), Facebook wants to encourage creators to drive discussions instead of simply asking followers to “like” something.
To encourage conversation, use questions and ask for thoughts. While you probably don’t want to post content that’s too controversial, you can ask questions like ‘what are your thoughts on real estate newsletters?’. Along with some healthy engagement, you may also get some tips for your future marketing.
- Avoid clickbait and low-quality content
Aside from the fact that clickbait is generally annoying and likely to alienate your followers, Facebook also actively discourages it.
Clickbait uses links and thumbnails that are solely designed to attract attention and get clicks. Most of the time, clickbait is deceptive, sensationalised, or misleading.
Aside from clickbait, there are a few other types of content that Facebook frowns upon:
- Misinformation and fake news
- Content that’s offensive but doesn’t meet the threshold for prohibited content
- Links to sites that don’t add value or that contain stolen or scraped content
- Misleading health information
- Faked videos that have been flagged by third-party fact-checkers
- Encourage employees and colleagues to share and engage
If you have employees or use Facebook influencers, you have a built-in way to use the Facebook algorithm to your advantage. Ask your employees and partners to share and engage with your content to help you stand out on other users’ news feeds. Why does this work?
Facebook prioritises content from people you know personally, so you’re more likely to see content from friends and family than posts from businesses you follow on the platform.
By asking your employees and colleagues to share your posts with their networks, your content will have a greater reach. Plus, people are 16X more likely to read content from friends and family instead of your brand..
If you don’t already have an employee advocacy program, now could be a great time to start one!
- Don’t always send readers ‘off platform’
It’s no secret that Facebook wants to keep users on its platform instead of sending them to external sites. For that reason, Facebook deemphasises posts with external links, instead prioritising content that’s native to the platform.
That doesn’t mean your posts with external links are never going to be seen but it does mean that you should have a mix of content with an emphasis on content that’s native to Facebook and keeps users on the platform.
Along with using native content, Facebook loves visual content. So do your followers. BuzzSumo found that Facebook posts with images get 3.2X more engagement than posts without images, so be sure to include a visual with every post.
- Create Facebook specific content
We briefly covered this in a previous tip but we’ll go into a bit more detail here since Facebook-specific content is so important to making the Facebook algorithm happy.
Start by writing unique and engaging descriptions for your posts—even if you repurpose content you’ve shared on Facebook before. Don’t just share the exact same thing. Switch it up a bit to avoid becoming repetitive. This doesn’t just apply to your post captions; you can use an image editing tool to turn posts into eye-catching images or turn posts into video content using a video editing tool.
- Leverage Facebook groups
Facebook groups are one of the best ways to make sure that your followers are seeing your content at the top of their news feeds more often.
You can create a new group for your brand and use it as a place to encourage discussion, provide product education, entertainment, solutions to user problems, and other content that provides value to your followers.
- Focus on the right ‘narrow’ audience
Facebook provides excellent audience targeting tools that you can use to fine-tune who sees your content. While it may seem counterintuitive to narrow your audience, you’ll see engagement increase as a result.
Increased engagement, in turn, means that your content will be rewarded by the Facebook algorithm and rank higher on users’ news feeds.
- Consider Facebook ads
Your organic (non-paid) content is going to do a lot to create and nurture relationships with your audience but Facebook advertising is still the best and fastest way to boost brand awareness on the platform.
With Facebook’s audience targeting, you can reach exactly who you need to reach to grow your audience. From there, you’ll be able to better understand the type of content that works for the type of people you want to reach.
When you combine Facebook advertising with the 10 tips that we’ve already covered, you’ll get even more out of your advertising efforts. Using organic and paid efforts together is the best way to get your content in front of as many of your target audience as possible while still pushing your organic content to nurture the relationships that you’re starting.
The Facebook algorithm is getting better and better at showing Facebook users only what they want to see. That’s why it’s so important for you to create high-quality Facebook content that will delight and engage your target audience.
Using the tips above, you’ll be able to use the Facebook algorithm to your advantage, earning new followers, improving your brand visibility, and boosting your brand on the platform.