Are you frustrated with Facebook’s algorithm?
You’re not alone.
It’s safe to say that no Page manager fully understands Facebook’s algorithm, and that there is frustration in the nonprofit community around how it limits the number of supporters that sees each piece of content.
And for good reason! With over 100,000 different deciding factors influencing who sees what, who has the time to fully learn them all and play Facebook’s game? Even worse, these factors are not readily available to the public!
In short, the Facebook algorithm attempts to manage the ever-increasing flow of content in one’s News Feed. This algorithm takes into account factors such as a user’s and their friends’ past history of engaging with content from a particular Page, and how much engagement each individual piece of content receives.
In this lesson, we are not going to attempt to unpack the nitty-gritty of the algorithm. Instead, we will try to break down the most important strategies you can start following today. These are time-tested practices that are proven to work and can really increase the reach and engagement of your content.
Let’s get started!
Don’t Ask for Likes/Shares
A common practice in the past, Facebook recently announced that such an ask, often referred to as “like baiting”, will now decrease the reach of that piece of content.
If you have a really important piece of content, it’s recommended that you seed the engagement on that piece of content by sending out an email asking your social champions to engage. By segmenting your email lists by interest, you can be sure to email those that are mostly like to engage. You can also ask your friends to do the same thing.
Be sure to do this strategically! You don’t want to become the organization that cried wolf. And ultimately, creating great content that people want to share is always going to be more important than asking for shares.
Avoid Using “Click Bait”
Need an example?
We’ve all seen content like this plastered all over social media!
When we talk about “click bait”, we really mean a dramatic or misleading headline that says little and encourages people to click to read more and find out what the “bombshell” is.
Upworthy does amazing work—but it has become particularly well-known for this. Recent data shows that in general, sensationalist content doesn’t get the kind of genuine engagement you need to build meaningful relationships with your audience. Often people feel fooled when the content isn’t as exciting as the headline.
Upload Your Video Files Directly to Facebook
Instead of posting a link to YouTube or elsewhere, upload your videos directly to Facebook!
Facebook has gone out of its way to reward native videos with increased reach—as much as 7–10x the reach and engagement has been seen on native video uploads.
Additionally, uploading your video directly to Facebook allows you to take advantage of their call to action button, which lets you link directly to an online action that a video watcher can take, such as signing up for your email list or signing a petition.
When Sharing Links, Use the Default Thumbnails
Facebook will display a default thumbnail after you paste your link into the post.
Facebook has publicly stated that links that are shared natively (a link that pulls in a title, thumbnail and description) will get more organic reach from the algorithm.
They spent several months carefully studying the data on the three different ways of posting links, and announced that native links get the most natural engagement.
If you want to customize the content of the thumbnail, you can click on the title or description to edit it, or upload a new thumbnail image by clicking on the “Upload an Image” button on the existing image.
Tag Other Pages in Your Post and Ask Them to Do the Same
For example, if your organization is promoting a joint activity with another organization, make sure to mention them in your post. The algorithm will then share your post to some of the fans of the other Page. Caution: Make sure the tagging is appropriate, not just trying to hijack someone else’s audience.
Don’t Be Overly Promotional in Your Content
What exactly does this mean? Facebook itself said:
According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app.
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context.
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads.
In other words, organic content that looks like an ad will get far less reach than genuine content. It doesn’t mean don’t run a contest… it means that content about the contest should say more than “click here to win”.
Avoid Text-Only Status Updates
While Facebook’s algorithm actually has a soft spot for text-only status updates from your personal Page, it treats those from your organization’s Page quite differently. So make sure to create link, image and video posts—but always have some visual.
Facebook is now taking trends and timeliness into account when showing posts to your audience. If you are able to post about a topic that is trending at that moment, you’ll have a better shot at getting it seen by more people.
The algorithm is ever-changing, so our best practices are also ever-evolving. The list above is a good place to start, but as always, make sure to create, analyze and tweak your content strategy. Each audience is different and you always want to make sure that what you are doing is giving your audience what it wants.
Your Key Takeaways:
1. Asking directly for likes or shares on Facebook is becoming less effective.
2. Write timely posts around issues that are trending (on and offline).
3. The Facebook algorithm doesn’t like click-baiting anymore. That’s when you use sensational, but vague language to drive curiosity and clicks to read more.
4. Upload videos directly to Facebook rather than point to YouTube.
5. Use images that get a lot of likes, shares and comments—the more engagement you generate, the more your posts get shared.
Thanks to www.actionsprout.com training classes