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Social Media 101 | Facebook| How to Cheat the Facebook News Feed Algorithm

Posted 04 Jan, 2019 No comments

You may be aware that over recent years Facebook have encountered a variety of negative press, ranging from accusations of failing to uphold its responsibility to reduce and eradicate, the distribution of fake news stories across the platform. Through to the ongoing 2016 US election scandal. All this accompanied by criticisms that most users News Feeds were littered with content from news media, brands and businesses, rather than those they wish to socially engage with. I’m sure if you asked Mark Zuckerberg back in 2004 when he launched Facebook, where he saw it headed, never would he have anticipated coming under such scrutiny. But as Peter Parker’s (aka Spiderman’s) wise old Uncle Ben once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So, in 2018 Mr Z and the social guru’s over in sunny California, set about re-inventing the ‘face’ of Facebook (pardon the pun), with an initiative aimed at bringing the social media platform back to its grass ‘social’ roots of connecting people, rather than being a distributor of content. Great! Well for some at least. But not necessarily for marketers or small business owners, with small marketing budgets, who favour organic reach to communicate to their Facebook using audiences.

But what has actually changed in the world of Facebook and what does that mean for Small Businesses?        

Organic reach of content, (i.e. how many people see your posts without you paying for the privilege), posted by businesses/brands has been steadily in decline for a number of years, causing speculation by many that it is Facebook’s ploy to generate more revenue through paid advertising. And with around 2.7 billion active monthly Facebook users worldwide you could say they hold all the cards and we are mere pawns. However, Facebook say this isn’t the primary reason for this change.

In 2016 we first heard ‘officially’ of Facebook’s plans to improve user experience by prioritising News Feed posts from family and friends, but in January 2018 controversy was high as news of definite and significant changes to the Facebook News Feed Algorithm came with a press release from the Facebook News Feed Team, accompanied by a detailed post from Mark Zuckerberg himself. This highlighted their objective to create ‘meaningful interactions’ and prioritise family and friends over media and business. Facebook says that following their own studies of academic research, social media is better for users if they use it to “connect with people we care about” and that they want to prioritise and promote posts that encourage those sorts of interactions. Put into context, those ‘engagement baiting’ posts, and we’ve all seen them, of someone sharing a picture of a pair of shoes and saying, “Tag a girl who would wear these shoes,” are most definitely not deemed as meaningful.

So…As business owners, how do you avoid spending your tight marketing budget on Facebook advertising, if now your organic reach is on average only to 1.5% of your followers?

Here are our 7 TOP TIPS on: ‘How to Cheat the Facebook News Feed Algorithm and Improve Your Presence and Audience Engagement’.

#1 VIDEO & LIVE STREAMING

If you’re not doing this then you need to start. Here’s why:

  1. Facebook is looking for and favours more visual content.
  2. Video is a conversation starter that drives discussion and holds user attention.
  3. It drives higher engagement and interactions compared to any other content.
  4. You don’t need to have a big budget.
  5. Facebook Live gets 6 x more engagement on average that standard video posts.

#2 START A DISCUSSION

Poll Your Audience. Polls are a great way to start a discussion, consider questions like:

  1. Would you rather?
  2. What would your friends think?
  3. Do you prefer?

Get them to comment below.

Support this with a value piece of content which links to a blog or tutorial on your website.

Definitely DO NOT

  1. Tag bait. I.e. Tag a friend who…
  2. Engagement Bait. Remember the shoes example I mentioned earlier?

#3 CREATE A COMPETITION OR CONTEST

  1. Create a challenge for your audience to take part in. For example, if your business is fitness focused something like a burpee or pull up challenge could be fun. Perhaps do it in aid of charity, pledging to donate for every person who takes up the challenge (don’t forget to cap it at your affordable limit). And don’t forget to keep up replies and engagement, share progress and success.
  2. Create a competition with an attractive yet attainable prize, i.e. Caption this? Answer a Question.

Use words like GIVEAWAY and CHALLENGE in the header to attract attention to your post but DON’T say LIKE & SHARE, that’s old school and spammy in Facebook’s eyes. Instead encourage people to like your page and follow you in order to keep informed. If they want to share, this has to be their own doing, not because you instruct them to.

#4 EMPLOYEE & INFLUENCER ADVOCACY

  1. Get your team, friends and family to share your posts as this amplifies reach. Remember I said that you’ll be lucky to organically reach more that 1.5% of followers, well posts shared by your employees, family and friends reach on average 33% of their friends. In context you would need 1 million followers to reach 15,000 people, whereas you would need 135 of your advocates to share your post to reach 15,200 people (no lie). Yikes!

#5 BUILD COMMUNITY THROUGH GROUPS

Facebook themselves highlighted Groups stating, “people often interact with public content.” Now there’s a hint. How can you work groups to your advantage?

  1. Work Facebook Groups alongside your Facebook page to build community. Fans have to opt-in to Groups so are usually more engaged. Use them as a safe place to share advice, tips, information experiences, and for your audience to engage with representatives of your business.
  2. Invite existing customers to join your groups and encourage them to invite their friends. Perhaps add value and promote your group(s) as and incentive part of your customer loyalty scheme.
  3. Set rules and administrate your Groups. Make introductions and be present.
  4. Actively participate in Groups you are a part of but don’t own. Don’t use them as a platform to sell. Share advice, help other members and participate in discussions, and when the time is right to divulge you will know and be better received. Or even better you’ll be recommended by other members.

#6 NARROW YOUR AUDIENCE

Facebook has a nifty News Feed Targeting option when posting which puts your updates in front of the people who are more likely to share, like or comment on them. This is a BIG algorithm tick!

Not only can you target demographics like age, location, languages, relationship status and education level, but you can also target specific interests!

Things to remember:

  1. The post remains visible in your feed on your page but only users with the target parameters will see the post in their feed.
  2. Your fan base must be greater than 20 people.

#7 MAKE YOUR CONTENT RICH AND TIMELY

  1. Pages making posts that people don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decrease in distribution so it’s important to remember that your content needs to provoke reaction and inspire your audience to share and or tag their friend in the comment.  
  2. Posts which encourage shares in Messenger are seen as more meaningful.
  3. Informative posts such as news, recipes, infographics, tips, How2’s, get more engagement.
  4. Loves trump Likes. Same goes for Ha Ha, Wow and Sad etc. Just like real life, they are more meaningful reactions.
  5. Make it visual and use real people in images and videos (or animals, people love animals).
  6. Make each post unique.
  7. Tag other business pages where relevant.
  8. Don’t overdo the external links, taking people off Facebook. Strike a balance of content.
  9. Use hashtags. Create your own #’s so that users can follow campaigns and find interesting information through searching your hashtags.
  10. Review your insights regularly to see which type of posts do better than others and other things like what times of day/days of the week you get most engagement etc.
  11. Schedule posts at relevant times of the day. Facebook prioritises engagement so timing is important.

I hope you’ve found this useful, just remember authenticity is key and Facebook will prioritise quality content that drives real interactions and shares!

If you’d like to learn more about social media and how to make it work harder for your business, then book on to our highly acclaimed ‘Get Smart in Social Media’ Workshop.  Just click here… I WANT SOCIAL MEDIA TO WORK HARDER FOR MY BUSINESS

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