Renee Ballard

Keeping Up With The Algorithms

A couple of months ago, Facebook updated their algorithms to prioritise personal posts ahead of company posts. It’s thrown a lot of companies into a spin because they were (overly) reliant on Facebook for their communications and the changes have caused their reach and engagement levels to be a little decimated.

Although there’s been angst around the changes, I can see why Facebook did it. Just like how we have to put on our own oxygen masks before the child’s, Facebook has to put its users ahead of the companies that use it.

News publications have become especially guilty of using Facebook to circulate their news and to try to take the traffic away to visit their website. Then, atop of that, companies are notorious for scheduling posts. This kind of stuff flies in the face of why Facebook is such a big hit. Facebook was created to provide individual users with a platform to connect with and keep up-to-date with friends and family. If our news feeds are taken over with company posts, scheduled up to a week in advance, the content in our feeds starts to look anonymous and stale.

Facebook had to do something to keep fresh and personal content filling feeds so it prioritised individual content ahead of companies, and it prioritises real time direct posts, ahead of scheduler service like HooteSuite. Facebook wants content fresh and exclusive, because it knows as users, that’s what we want too. It’s not overly altruistic, but without the masses turning up every day (hour) to check-in with what’s goss (why does Aunt Sophia keep posting breakfast photos? And why do I keep liking them?!), it loses revenue. Facebook survives by selling advertising and advertising requires eyeballs, the more they have the more, they can sell their ads for. And wouldn’t you know it, as luck would have it, they offer a solution to companies whose posts are being left out in the cold – they can buy an ad campaign to put them back front and centre to their target audience!

In the interim though, what can you do to minimise the impact of the changes? A couple of things…

  • Step up/keep up the quality of your posts – think about what problem you’re solving for your target audience, then post around that.
  • Post in real time and directly to Facebook – take a break from scheduling software and cross-platform sharing and see if it impacts your reach.
  • Keep engaging with your community – like, comment, share, reply.
  • Try something a little different – try Live Video (scary at first, but gets easier), share articles, post photos, post text, swap essays out for emojis posts, and then swap back again.

The algorithms are always learning, so give it new data to work with and keep your content native to Facebook, let it know you care! What the algorithms want most of all is to promote content that users like, comment on and share, because that’s how it judges what to prioritise – so give them what they want!

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