With Facebook's recent algorithm updates, gone are the days when you can easily reach thousands on the platform for free. Here's how Facebook chooses what to show on their followers' News Feeds, and what you can do about it.
If your business relies on Facebook as your top social platform, you've probably noticed a drastic decline in your organic reach over the past year. This drop means your posts aren’t being displayed on your followers’ News Feeds as often as they once were.
Unfortunately, if your social media marketing efforts are centered on Facebook’s organic reach instead of its paid advertising option, there’s a good chance that your future sales will also be affected. A 2017 study showed that Facebook Page engagements had dropped by 20 percent, and by the start of 2018, 55 percent of marketers saw a significant decrease in their page’s organic reach.
However, not all hope is lost. It’s just a question of how well you understand Facebook’s intentions in applying its new algorithm, and how well you adapt to the change.
The Big Decline: Facebook's Algorithm Updates
“More meaningful social interactions with family and friends.”
This is the core tenet that led Facebook to update its algorithm to prioritize posts from actual people in your network over pages from businesses. In the last few years, the social media giant continuously updated its code and experimented with new features with the goal of pushing content from the people in your circles up in their News Feeds. What does this mean for businesses?
Three words: Reduced audience reach.
To understand the rationale behind Facebook’s recent change, you need to be clear on what Facebook is trying to achieve. While its main goal is to prioritize posts a user’s family and friends, Facebook also considers the level of engagement a certain organization has with its followers. If a business has continually provided content that fosters interaction, such as comments and shares, its future posts are considered high quality and will likely make it on the News Feed.
It’s also important to understand that this particular update in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm is only one of many from the past couple of years, all geared toward improving user experience.
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What This Means for Marketers
Facebook has received countless complaints about the degrading quality of the posts on the platform. The latest update ensures that only posts from businesses that have proven their quality of engagement make it to their audience’s feeds. Businesses that have not paid much attention to improving their engagement will feel the brunt of the update.
That said, if you are a business owner and use Facebook to spread brand awareness and user engagement, you might want to rethink your strategy. Gone are the days when you can reach thousands of users through posts and updates on your business's Facebook page. Ever since the social giant started implementing changes to the Newsfeed's algorithm, it's so much harder to spread your message to both current and potential users.
To have a better understanding of the situation, let's break it down to key areas of changes and what you can do to keep up:
1. Friends Over Pages
Facebook believes that the balance of what is showing in the News Feed tilted towards public content, ever since video and viral news started to become the trend. To bring back that balance, its new algorithm seeks to push posts from family and friends to the top of the News Feed, while at the same time, decrease the chances of public content from appearing in the feed.
What To Do?
- Analyze what works: The first step is to determine which type of content catches fire and which ones get ignored. Conduct an audit of your page's posts to get a hint of what works and sparks engagement among users. Focus on creating the same winning content and experiment how you can improve them further.
- Make meaningful content: Relevant and useful content always trumps gimmicky material. By putting out meaningful posts that drive conversation, Facebook's algorithm will be inclined to push it up the News Feed.
- Leverage video: In a 2016 Q4 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg said their goal was to put video first and make it easier for people to capture and share video in new ways. Videos that get watched in their entirety are ranked higher, and live videos draw more attention and engagement. Create quality video material that users will seek and watch often.
2. The End of Engagement Baiting
Have you ever tagged someone after seeing a post with a call-to-action that says, "Tag a friend who is (insert funny quote here)"? While it may be fun, Facebook is enforcing stricter measures to eliminate these "engagement bait" posts (i.e. posts with the sole purpose of driving the engagement up to trick the algorithm). This also includes posts that ask users to comment their answers, to share, to vote and/or react.
What To Do?
- Strategize: Remember, content is still king. Make your posts significant and interesting enough to drive users to share it themselves.
- Focus on your audience’s needs and wants: Know your brand's niche market and start focusing your efforts on producing great material for them. People love information they can use. At the same time, people also love to share content that they find entertaining. Strike the balance between the two.
- Post engaging content at regular intervals: Facebook now tracks the time a user spends on a post. If the algorithm senses that a particular post garners longer viewing time, chances are, the algorithm will deem it higher on the relevance ranking. Engaging content will help you keep eyes reading until the end.
3. The Rising Prevalence of Paid Ads
Now that organic reach is almost kaput for businesses, where do marketers turn to drive growth? Yes, you got that right: Paid Facebook advertising.
What To Do?
- Learn the ropes of Facebook's advertising system. Check out Facebook Ads Manager and Power Editor to zero in on the whole process. Once you understand how it works, create a strong marketing campaign.
- Ask for help: If you find Facebook ads too technical or time-consuming, hire services that can do it for you.
4. Increased Use of Facebook Groups
Groups are like mini-communities within Facebook that are created by users who share the same interests. A single person is allowed to join up to 6,000 groups, making it a great avenue to look for people who might find value in your services or product.
You can make use of Facebook Groups to extend your reach by promoting your brand once you're a member. You can also create one and invite users to join. Note that when joining groups, be mindful of their rules: Some may prohibit promotional content from its members.
What To Do?
- Set goals: Decide on a marketing strategy that will define the group you are planning to create for your business. Will you be selling your product to its members? Sharing useful content to existing customers? Will your content focus on entertainment value or inspiring its members? Defining these goals will help you create a clear marketing strategy and map out your timeline effectively.
- Stay active: Once you have your Facebook Group set up, look for relevant and trending content that your members can use or find interesting. Post tutorials, do Q&As, create surveys, etc., These content will engage your members and help spread your Group's reach.
It’s All In Your Hands
Since Facebook made it harder to increase organic reach, this presents a great opportunity to spread your eggs in several baskets and diversify your marketing strategy using other social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium and LinkedIn. You can also start promoting your brand via email marketingas it remains to be an effective avenue to nurture existing relationships and build a community of followers.
Facebook's vision of bringing people closer through its revamped News Feed algorithm is a positive user experience. However, this same algorithm made it more difficult for businesses and brands to reach its target markets. Take a good look at your Facebook strategy, so your brand can thrive and remain visible in the ever-changing landscape of social media marketing.