The mere mention of “Facebook algorithm” may be enough to send shivers down your spine! But equally, it can seem like a mystical, far away thing that you can easily ignore and merrily carry on with business as usual.
If Facebook is a part of your marketing strategy, whether you’ve got a small fledging page or a big established community, it’s a good idea to take notice of the algorithm because it does have an impact on your business, whether you’re aware of it or not.
What does ‘Facebook Algorithm’ mean?
It’s no surprise that lots of people simply ignore any mention of algorithms, because for them it doesn’t mean a great deal.
What you are probably aware of is that Facebook doesn’t show your posts to every single person who likes your Page. In fact, it doesn’t even show every one of your personal posts to everyone you’re friends with. That’s because Facebook wants to make sure that each user’s Newsfeed is interesting and engaging for them.
So what you see in your Newsfeed when you log on to Facebook will be different to what I see. Even when we see the same posts, they may appear at different times or in a different order in the Newsfeed.
And this is where the algorithm comes in.
Facebook takes into account lots of different factors in order to decide what content to show you. It may surprise you to hear that Facebook actually runs this process every single time you log on to Facebook. So if you open the app, have a quick flick through the Newsfeed, close it and then open it again a few minutes later you will probably notice slight differences in what content appears.
What does the algorithm mean to your business page?
When you log on, Facebook is going to need to look at all the content it could possibly show you before it can decide what it will show you.
First and foremost, Facebook is going to look at what your friends and family have been posted because it believes this content to be most important to its users. Only after that, will it look at what the Pages you like have been posting.
So, who actually gets to see your business’s posts? Well to start with, it’s likely to be your most engaged followers; those people that already like / comment / share / click on your posts on a regular basis. Then the process becomes almost like a snowball effect; if the first few people to be shown your post start to engage with it, then that signals to Facebook that it’s good content and it will start to show it to a few more people, and then a few more and so on and so on.
So, it’s the algorithm that controls who gets to see your Facebook posts and that’s what we mean when we talk about ‘organic reach’ – it’s the number of people who have seen your posts without you paying to boost it.
Hopefully by now you can see that the algorithm is pretty integral to your Facebook marketing. In fact, it has an impact on your business every single day, whether you realise it or not.
What happens when the algorithm changes?
Facebook’s #1 priority is to ensure that its users want to keep logging on, as often as possible. If the Newsfeed becomes irrelevant or uninteresting then people will start to abandon Facebook. So, Facebook are always working to improve the algorithm so that its users see more of the content they really care about.
From time to time, Facebook are kind enough to let us know when they’ve made an update; usually when it’s something relatively major.
Now I’m actually going to argue here that the specifics of the update are not all that important to you. That’s because we never quite know what impact the algorithm update is going to have until it’s had chance to take effect. What’s more, every Facebook Page is different so how it affects my page might be different to how it affects yours. Not to mention the fact that Facebook doesn’t tell us everything that goes into the algorithm so there are factors at play that we know nothing about.
Time to take action!
Rather than get bogged down in understanding the specifics of an algorithm update, it’s a time to take action!
The Insights tab on your Facebook Page is a treasure trove of data that covers everything from who your followers are to which of your posts get the most engagement. Spend some time looking at the data or, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, get someone who knows to help you.
I could write a whole guide about how to use Facebook Insights but what it boils down to is this…
Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
Even if all you look at is which posts get the best reach, let that guide you to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
The important thing is that you do something. After all, your Facebook Page is a valuable asset to your business and if you don’t take action then you’re basically operating on a wing and a prayer. At best you could miss out on opportunities to be seen by more potential customers and, at worst, you could find that your Page becomes a ghost town because your content is getting lost in the algorithm.
Beckie Coupe in the founder & CEO of Infinity and her mission is to help entrepreneurs to get a grip on their Social Media marketing.