Facebook Algorithm Update: Survival Kit for Businesses and Publishers
With 42% marketers saying that Facebook is critical to their business and its success, it is no wonder that more and more companies are coming on board. However, though brands continuously use Facebook for marketing and advertising purposes, Mark Zuckerberg’s primary goal was to provide a platform that helped people connect and interact with each other. And this purpose has been realized again with the latest algorithm update which was released on Jan 11th.
Though algorithms have always had updates for companies such as Google and Facebook, this recent algorithm change has piqued interest and brought on some controversy. The reason for this is while updates like the one we saw back in December 2017 changed some features, the recent update revolutionizes the entire ecosystem.
Here, we’ll discuss the new Facebook algorithm update, what it means for business and what you should and shouldn’t do to get back on the radar.
What is the recent update?
The ‘meaningful interactions’ update prioritizes posts that are expressive and which come from friends and family members. The new algorithm focuses on posts that have a highly interactive level and instead of paying attention to how long a video was watched, emphasizes on the comments on the content.
This change, though bad news for businesses, is meant to take Facebook back to where it all began – the need to help people connect and interact with each other. Much like Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, this social media wants to do what it was always supposed to. Though it is something which won’t be welcomed quickly, it will force brands and business to produce better, more engaging content.
According to Mashable, Facebook’s traffic was down by 50 million hours per day in the first month, and this may be why the company is working its way towards tweaking things a little. In a way, the business is protecting its users and providing them a better user experience because there were several reports of how businesses spam users on the multi-million-dollar platform. With this update, Facebook is telling companies that it’s not enough to buy a bunch of links, create bits of crummy content and use baiting techniques to get on the users’ News Feed.
What it means for businesses
Everyone from brands to page managers are wondering whether or not their organic reach will once again be affected and cause them to reach a smaller percentage of target audience on the platform. However, even with the updates, there is a way for you to influence your fans. But first, we need to look at the update in details and get familiarized with the fundamental changes.
First, you have to know that when an individual user logs into his account, there are potentially thousands of posts that might be displayed on his News Feed. However, the algorithm makes it so that the user sees content that is valuable to them. This recent update arranges posts according to how likely the person would be to interact with it. Back in January, Facebook’s team conducted a News Feed webinar and broke the algorithm down so it would be easier to understand.
Here are the four components that make it easier for everyone to understand the algorithm update.
- Content availability
- Signals or the considerations about content
- Predictions or the considerations about the person
- The overall score
What you need to focus on as a brand is the signal’s part of the algorithm. Facebook uses signals to determine the posts which should be shown to users and which must be kept hidden. Inline with the update, businesses must create content that warrants for active engagement from users. Because person-to-person connections spark more interest (pictures of pets) as compared to person-to-page content (photos or videos of products), the platform is prioritizing posts that come from family and friends.
If you think about it, this update corresponds to Google’s algorithm changes because it too emphasizes on user engagement. So, businesses shouldn’t just be paying attention to posting content that’s popular, but also work towards making it more personal so users can interact and have conversations about it.
What should you do?
Even though it is impossible to tell for sure what the impact of this update will be in the News Feed, it is recommended that you make a few changes to your Facebook strategy. Remember that because the update focuses on active interactions like commenting, reacting and sharing instead of passive interactions such as viewing, clicking and hovering, you should pay attention to engaging your customers.
The following are some tips which you can use to bring up your posts on your user’s News Feed.
Know the importance of the signals
Like we’ve already talked about, signals are the most crucial factors you need to worry about for your business. Emphasize on content that makes people comment, react and share the content instead of just making them view it. Here’re a few details you should keep in mind about these signals.
- Comment: The most important signal that you should be worrying about for Facebook’s 2018 algorithm is comments. If your page is generating conversation between people, it will have a higher chance of being visible in the news feed. One way to make this happens is to conduct live videos which are sure to lead your audience to interact and comment. But make sure you don’t use baiting techniques that demote your posts! We’ll talk about that later in the blog.
- Share: Once you have a handle on commenting and what you need to do to make it happen, the next signal you should work on is sharing. A change that’s occurred in the recent update is that sharing isn’t just posts being shared externally or internally by the user. Instead, this update also wants your audience to share content and links within Messenger and counts that as a plus. In other words, your posts don’t just need to be shared publicly, but privately as well. Another thing you’ll need to be careful about is that it isn’t enough if people are just sharing your content. The only way your posts can get to the top is if that material is also sparking conversations among friends. So, for instance, let’s say that your audience shared one of your posts, and their friends started to comment on it, then that feed will most probably be shown to other people, and this will increase your reach. On the flipside, if the post is shared but no one comments, the influence will eventually plummet.
- React: Finally, the 3rd leading signal that Facebook wants you to concentrate on is reactions. While user reactions may not be as crucial or influential as comments or shares, it will help your brand reach more people. Though not all users will take the time out to discuss or share the content, they will almost always react if they like or agree to the content. Reactions also tell a lot about the quality of the post because even if a specific individual didn’t comment after watching an emotional video, his ‘crying’ reaction would tell you that the content touched his heart.
Make it all about the customer
The only way you can make people comment on, react to or share your content is if your message connects with them on a deeper level. Instead of creating videos that are filled with facts and figures, go for things that are crucial for your customer. Share posts where you tell your users about your or someone else’s personal experience and watch how your engagement level goes up.
The only way to survive this update is if your content prompts conversations and is around a relevant topic that your audience is sure to have an opinion on. If you haven’t done it already, make sure you research your target audience and find out what makes them tick so you can use that to bring up your reach.
Focus on making Facebook live videos
We have said it once, and we’ll repeat it, make it a habit of posting relevant live videos. Because the algorithm doesn’t just prefer videos but wants you to engage in live sessions, it is something that needs to be in your Facebook strategy. Live videos lead to conversations among the viewers, and this is why it should be preferred over other types of content.
According to stats, live videos attract six times more interactions as compared to regular ones. So, if you want to confirm that your content performs well under the new algorithm, make sure you add live videos. If you aren’t sure about the topics you should be covering, you can always ask your customers about what matters to them and what they would like you to discuss, so the video is relevant to them and helps in one way or the other.
Think about Facebook Groups
Another excellent way to make sure your content is seen by audience is to become a part of Facebook Groups. Because this is something that already gives great emphasis to user engagement, it is a marketing tactic that will serve you very well under the updated algorithm. Invest time in thinking about how you can engage your customers with Groups apart from your Facebook pages and other advertising strategies.
Encourage users to follow your page
One thing that hasn’t changed with the updated algorithm is the ability for customers to ensure that they always see posts from their preferred pages by selecting the ‘See First’ option in their News Feed preferences. So, don’t be shy about asking your customers to follow your page and remind the loyal followers to choose to see your posts first in their feed.
Become an expert at ads
Organic reach is something which has been gradually declining on social media for ages. This is why a lot of marketing experts have focused their attention on Facebook ads. So, if you aren’t already an expert, make sure you know everything there is to know and become a whiz.
With Facebook prioritizing content that comes from brands and companies, these skills will be indispensable if you want your page to be visible. You have to know how to target your right audience, so you know that the ads are doing what they are supposed to do. Also, if you aren’t spending a lot of ads, make sure you do because they are crucial in deciding whether or not your brand will make it.
Trust your influencers
While it is clear that Facebook’s algorithm update regulates brands and publishers, influencers are still treated as individuals and not businesses, no matter how big their following is. Because the platform emphasizes ‘meaningful interactions,’ your influencers will be able to attract attention. Even if you have just a few influencers, partner with them and you’ll continue to reach your target audience.
Not only do influencers market your brand and products, but also help you in showing yourself as an authentic leader of the industry. According to a study by Cohn & Wolfe, 64% consumers say that they would buy from a company they consider to be authentic. The best part of trusting your influencers to take the message forward is that you won’t need to put in a lot of effort and convince them because they will already be your brand’s advocates.
What you shouldn’t do
Now that we have talked in detailed about what you should do to make sure your brand doesn’t become a victim to the new changes in the algorithm, you must also know about what you shouldn’t do. The one thing that everyone will advise against is engagement baiting. In a nutshell, engagement baits force the user to like, comment, tag, vote or share the content. You should know that Facebook has put a strict ban on these baits and will bring your brand and posts down if you engage in it.
Some common examples of baiting are
- Comment bait
- React bait
- Tag bait
Engaging in baiting techniques will only make your brand look like the posts are spammy, and so the users won’t like to do anything with them.
The algorithm update has received quite a bad rep in-light of everything else, and while it may not all be positive for marketers and businesses, it is something that can help if you play the cards right.
The tips we have talked about publishing posts aren’t just useful on Facebook but will help you on other platforms. Remember that the digital world pays attention to customers and this why they should be your focus no matter where you’re advertising, marketing or promoting.