Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Unlocked: How to Optimize for Greater Reach and Engagement

To say that Facebook is overcrowded is an understatement. Every 60 seconds, 300 new profiles are created, 293,000 statuses are updated, 510,000 comments are posted, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. And this explosion of content has made it more difficult for businesses to gain exposure in Facebook’s News Feed. In fact, more than one study has revealed that over the last few years organic reach has significantly dropped.

One study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014 organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. And another report found that publishers experienced a 52% decline in organic reach after Facebook adjusted their algorithm to prioritize content from friends and family. Today, your reach may be as low as 2%!

Gone are the days when only a few brands had active business pages and could easily stand out. But, the good news is there’s an easy way to tackle this dilemma. Read on to learn how you can optimize your content for greater reach and engagement.

news feed

How does Facebook’s News Feed algorithm work?

 

To play the game, you must know the rules of the game. So first, let’s talk about how Facebook’s algorithm works and what’s behind the News Feed ranking.

Facebook designs its algorithm around individual user preferences in conjunction with the following News Feed core values they presented in 2016. “These values guide our thinking, and help us keep the central experience of News Feed intact as it evolves,” says Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management, News Feed.

  • Friends and Family Come First – Stories from your friends and family appear higher in your feed.
  • Your Feed Should Inform – Stories that are interesting and informative to you appear higher in your feed.
  • Your Feed Should Entertain – Stories that Facebook finds entertaining to you appear higher in your feed.
  • A Platform For All Ideas – Facebook doesn’t favor sources or ideas. It delivers stories that are most meaningful to you.
  • Authentic Communication – Facebook will only show stories that are genuine, not “misleading, sensational and spammy.”
  • You Control Your Experience – Post features such as “see first,” “unfollow” and “hide” let you choose what you want to see.
  • Constant Iteration – Facebook is dedicated to continued improvement.

 

5 ways to optimize your Facebook strategy for greater reach and engagement

 

Now that you know how Facebook’s algorithm works, let’s dive into some tactics that will help you boost content performance.

1. Pay to play

It’s simple. If you want to get your content in front of more people, you have to pay for it. Like any other marketing platform, Facebook is more effective for businesses that use paid media. With paid media, your business reaches greater audiences with greater accuracy than possible with organic content. And, you don’t need a huge budget or a lot of experience to advertise on Facebook. Here’s a tip if you’re just starting with boosted content: let your organic post run for at least 24 hours before boosting. This will give your post some traction before boosting, leading to better performance.

SRAX Social lets you boost Facebook posts in three simple steps.

2. Share thumb-stopping content

Some people think if they post more often, organic reach will kick back up. But that’s not necessarily true. Although posting regularly is an important part of building a reputable presence, it’s the quality of the content that matters most. Share content that your audience actually cares about – content that makes them stop scrolling through their feed and delivers on the promise of its headline. One highly relevant, shareable, and visually appealing piece of content is worth more than three ordinary posts.

3. Use video and native content

Facebook video garners triple the engagement and 1200% more shares than text and image posts combined. Also, when compared to YouTube videos shared on Facebook, native videos uploaded to Facebook have 10 times more reach. Facebook video works well because in addition to shares, likes, and comments, the algorithm takes into account how much time people spend on a video. Tip: Most users watch video without sound, so design your video’s story for sound off and add captions. And Facebook’s automated caption tool is available in Ads Manager and Power Editor.

4. Encourage engagement in unique ways

You can’t ask your fans to like or share your posts. Facebook identifies these phrases as spam. But, there are other ways you can urge users to engage. For example, a travel agency could post a video or image of a beach in Bali with a caption that reads “Tag a friend who you’d want to go here with.” This would initiate a stream of comments – and thus, increase reach. Or instead of prompting users to tag a friend, you could say ”Tell us where you plan to travel this summer.” This will boost engagement and reach – and give you valuable customer insight too.

A custom analytics dashboard lets you see how your posts are doing without the need to export data from multiple platforms.

5. Post on trending topics

When people go online, they expect to see posts that reflect what’s going on that very moment. Stay up to date on the trending stories, events and holidays your audience is most interested in – and create content around those topics. Whether it’s MLB Opening Day, the Tony Awards, or National Best Friends Day, trending topics are ranked higher. And if you use an associated hashtag, you could gain more exposure. This kind of marketing strategy requires a social media management tool that allows you to schedule your content across multiple social media platforms and get in-depth analytics.

As Facebook’s user base grows, so too will the amount of content, and the factors that play into the News Feed algorithm. It’s important now, more than ever, for your business to have a share of voice on the biggest social network. And this handful of simple tactics will get you started in the right direction.

Do you have any tips for increasing reach and engagement on Facebook? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

 

Published on July 24, 2017

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