How Does the Facebook Algorithm Work?
Each user’s News Feed is like the front page of a personalised newspaper. It includes recent popular updates both from their personal Facebook friends and from the businesses they follow.
If Facebook displayed every single update, users would be overwhelmed by the mountain of content. Instead, Facebook uses an algorithm to predict what each user will find most interesting. In other words, the more popular the content is, the more likely your fans will see it.
The algorithm’s job is to determine how much power a particular post has.
The number-one factor is engagement. If the algorithm sees lots of people engaging with your post, then the algorithm shows the post to more people.
Your post gets some initial reach in the first few seconds. Maybe 1% of your fans or friends see it. If that engagement is high, more people will see the post.
The number-two factor is the content. If other people are interested in the content of your post, it gets a bit of a bump. This includes:
- The number of people interacting with the post
- The number of reactions, comments, and shares
- Posts coming from friends or family
Engagements also have relative power. An example of relative power is when a story appears in your News Feed because one of your friends liked, shared, or commented on it.
Low Engagement with a User
The Facebook algorithm gives credit to Pages who have received feedback from a particular user (posts, comments, likes, tags, and shares). So, if a user consistently interacts with a page, more page posts are likely to show up on that user’s page. However, if a user rarely interacts with a page, the opposite is true, and page posts tend to be rarely seen by a particular user. Therefore, a Fan may be reading, even enjoying, your page posts, but unless they engage with you, your posts will not end up in their News Feed.
That’s why your job is not only to post content regularly, but figure out what kinds of updates will get your fans to do something. The more you can inspire your fans to click 'Like' on your updates, to leave comments, or to click 'Share' to spread your words to their friends, the better your 'reach' numbers will be.
Then it becomes a cycle; you post content that gets 'Likes' and comments, appears in News Feeds, increasing the chance of more Interactions.
Tactics to Mitigate the Facebook Algorithm
Here are some tactics to help with your organic reach:
- Ask questions in your post - aim for closed-ended questions, those with a yes/no true/false type answer so your audience doesn't have to think too hard
- After you post, like your post
- If you have another Facebook page, share your post to this page, if appropriate.
- Respond to every single comment, preferably with ANOTHER question for the commenter to make them comment again.
- When you respond to comment, tag the person in it for extra notification on their homepage.
- Click 'like' on every comment, even your own.
- Post when your fans are online (your Facebook Insights will show you this)
Essentially you want to make it appear there’s a ton of 'activity' happening on your post, and Facebook will reward your efforts with more organic reach, in other words, increased reach into people’s News Feed.
BONUS - if you achieve a good organic reach for a post, it will impact positively on the next post. On the other hand, a post with low engagement will negatively impact the subsequent post. That is why you are better to have one dynamite posts than many low-engaging posts.
Content that your Fans Love
There’s no substitute for content that is of value to your fans to increase your reach and engagement. Stop posting content that you think is important and instead focus on what your Fans want to see. Although Facebook's algorithm is skewed to show more posts from friends than business pages, you can still get around it with good content. Here is an example from Lululemon who consistently post informative, interesting posts for their fans.