At the end of 2019, the average reach of Facebook posts fell by 2.2%, which means that brands can fairly expect that only 5.5% of their followers will see their posts. Large brands with a large audience may have even lower metrics.

Of course, the algorithm for creating a Facebook news feed is not the only thing that affects the reach (for example, the constant growth of the social network’s audience), but it is nevertheless one of the main factors. And those companies and brands that are not aware of the latest events and updates to the algorithm may have difficulty showing content to their audience.

Just in case you need to refresh your memory quickly: Facebook’s news feed generation algorithm is the principles that the social network uses to decide which posts a user will see in their feed and in what order.

Since 2018, the algorithm has been constantly updated, and Facebook is trying hard to increase the value and meaning of the time that users spend on the network.

But in 2020, Facebook decided to focus on making its platform more open to users and giving people more direct control over what they see in the news feed. For example, Facebook has conducted numerous surveys, collecting data and opinions directly from users – what they are interested in and what they are not. You can even add a button to your posts to find out why the post is being shown in your feed.

So, Facebook decided to focus on users. What should brands do? Spend money on paid promotion of absolutely every post? Don’t worry, the Hootsuite team has compiled strategic tips for working effectively with Facebook in 2020.

How the Facebook algorithm changed

To begin with a little history:

  • In 2009, Facebook introduced the first similarity of the algorithm: the news feed began to form depending on the popularity of each post.
  • In 2015, Facebook introduced a “See First” feature that gave users the ability to choose which pages should appear at the top of their news feed. The platform also started lowering pages in the feed that posted too many publications with advertising overtones.
  • In 2016, Facebook began prioritizing posts from friends and family, as well as informative and entertaining content. The algorithm also began measuring the value of a post based on the number of time users spent viewing it, even if they didn’t share or like it. Live video broadcasts also took priority, as they received three times more viewing time than regular videos.
  • In 2017, the algorithm began evaluating users ‘ reactions to a post (angry face, etc.) above the usual likes. Also added to the video rating is the indicator of viewing the video to the end.
  • In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news feed algorithm will now prioritize posts that generate discussion and meaningful interactions. The goal of the innovation is to bring to the forefront the quality, rather than the amount of time that users spend online, and to take more responsibility for how the platform affects its users. At the same time, brands have legitimate concerns that their organic content will no longer be rated as highly as content from family, friends, and groups. Since the algorithm prioritized posts that gathered high-quality interactions (comments, reactions, responses to comments, and sharing in messenger), it turned out that companies had to have a high-level engagement to get coverage to increase user engagement.
  • In March 2019, a study by NewsWhip found that while Facebook engagement increases by 50% year-on-year, changes to the algorithm also increase discord and abuse on the social network, as they promote posts that people care about. At the same time, the algorithm began tracking low-quality content and fake news from unreliable sources who knew how to trick the system to get maximum user attention.

The Facebook algorithm may always be in the process of improvement. So let’s look at what’s important for brands that want to improve their organic reach.

How Facebook’s algorithm works in 2020

Now the algorithm shows posts in the news feed in such a way that each user sees them in the order in which they will most like and be interested. And for this purpose, the system uses certain ranking factors.

Ranking factors are data about the past behaviour of a particular user and, in principle, the behaviour of all platform users. For example, do people share this post with their friends? How often does a user like their boss’s posts? And mothers? How often does he watch live broadcasts? What is his favourite band? How many posts are technically available for it now? How fresh are they?

In other words, the algorithm weighs a lot of factors before deciding whether to show you the same video.

Facebook mentions three large categories of ranking factors:

  • Who the user usually interacts with,
  • Media type in the post (video, link, photo, etc.),
  • The popularity of the post.

In March 2019, Facebook announced a tool that aims to give users more transparency and control over what is shown in their news feed. The “Why Am I seeing this post?” button does exactly what it promises: it helps the user understand why the algorithm shows this particular post in the news feed.

Facebook News Feed

It also allows people to “tell” the algorithm directly what is important to them and what is annoying. in other words, users can tell Facebook that they want to see fewer posts from a certain person or see more publications from a certain business page.

In May 2019, Facebook conducted user surveys to find out directly from its audience what content is important to them. The surveys were as follows:

  • Who are their closest friends,
  • What kind of posts (links, photos, videos) they consider them valuable,
  • How important is the specific group that they belong to,
  • How interested they are in the content of certain business pages that they subscribe to.

During response processing, the social network selected certain patterns, which were then added to the algorithm. For example, the pages and groups that users identified as the most important were often those that they subscribed to for a long time, often interact with and those that had a lot of posts and activities.

9 tips for working with the Facebook algorithm

What can brands do to make sure that their Facebook strategy matches the priorities of the social network’s algorithm:

Start conversations that will encourage communication

According to Facebook, one of the key signals of the ranking algorithm is whether the user has previously interacted with this page. And since no one is going to interact with your page as they would with a friend page, the likes and shares you get during a lively conversation under the post will play a significant role in increasing the reach of your future posts.

Therefore, you need to work hard before the algorithm begins to understand and appreciate the value of your page. At the same time, you don’t need to go into low-quality ways to attract likes and comments (the algorithm recognizes them and can lower the post and page in the feed), try to appeal to the feelings of users (even a video with kittens will be useful here).

Post when your audience is online

Freshness is another ranking factor that is important when the algorithm chooses which post to show to users. The newer the better. Published just now-perfect. To find out when your audience is online, it is better not to rely on averaged data from General research, but to use special analytical tools.

Don’t publish content that might get you demoted in your feed

There are several categories of posts for which, according to Facebook, the algorithm will immediately lower the page in the feed:

  • Links to sites that use copied content without any value,
  • Content that may be offensive but is not banned is, as they say, ” teetering on the edge»,
  • Fake news,
  • Misleading information about the health or treatment,
  • Videos with false information that were created to manipulate users ‘ reactions.

Post high-quality videos that last more than three minutes

In May 2019, Facebook announced that the news feed will show more high-quality and original videos. The following factors were added to the algorithm:

  • Loyalty and intent: videos that users search for and view multiple times,
  • Video length and duration of viewing: videos that users watch for more than one minute, and videos that last for more than three minutes,
  • Original: videos that have not been republished from other sources and have their own value.

Also, don’t forget about live video streams on Facebook, which get six times more engagement than regular videos.

Post frequently and regularly

According to Facebook, pages that regularly publish posts are likely to be more useful to their audience. Therefore, the frequency of publications is a ranking factor that can affect how high your posts are placed in the news feed. So don’t forget your content calendar: a pre-planned publication plan will help you maintain your audience’s engagement and attention.

Use groups that are important to your audience

At the 2019 Facebook F8 Developer Conference, it was stated that groups continue to be one of the most valuable parts of Facebook, according to user behaviour. The key point here is Facebook’s phrase that people “can see more content from groups in news feeds.”

What can brands do? Create your own group based on a page where you can hold discussions, post educational content, solve users ‘ problems, and keep in mind entertainment publications.

Back up your organic posts with paid advertising

While organic content can help build relationships with your audience, Facebook ads are still the best way to increase brand awareness among the social network’s audience of millions.

Tell your users how to prioritize content in your newsfeed

As Facebook moves to increase transparency in the ranking of news feed content, the audience has more control over what it sees. So tell your followers that they can prioritize your page’s posts in the feed. However, to do this, you must post exactly the kind of content that your subscribers will never want to miss.

Use your employees as influencers

It is great if employees like to talk about their company and brand. After all, they have their own friends and followers who may be interested in your page. The main thing to remember is that boring company news is not interesting to anyone, let each employee choose for himself what to publish, and you can only support it.