Facebook Algorithm: How To Increase Your Reach And Get Engagement On Facebook- 2022 Guide
Facebook is the largest social media platform with over 2.89 billion monthly active users. What Facebook users might not know is that the algorithm that controls what content shows up in their newsfeed was tweaked a few years ago to show more content from family and friends, and less from brands. This has made it more difficult for businesses to reach their audience organically on Facebook.
It is therefore imperative to understand the Facebook algorithm if you are going to be using the platform for marketing purposes. This article will explain how the Facebook algorithm works, how you can use it to your advantage and help you to create content that is optimized for the platform.
As we do with all our content, this guide is forthright. If you were browsing in the hopes to find out how the sausage gets made, this is it. Buckle up.
Reactions rank better than Likes
In 2017, Facebook changed the way it weighed reactions to posts by giving more attention to emotions (i.e., hearts or the angry face) than the good old Likes. Facebook now tracks which posts trigger an emotional reaction and uses that data to show more of the ''important stuff''. Be attentive to what types of posts get the most reactions with your audience, and try to create more of those posts.
Time spent is part of the Facebook engagement equation
Facebook rewards content that gets a lot of engagement. This is why brands often focus so much on producing content that gets a lot of likes, comments and shares. But like Google, Facebook wants to provide the best experience to its users. It does that by also rewarding posts with high quality and interesting stories, even if they don’t get a lot of reactions.
More visibility for video completion
Contrary to a popular belief born on Youtube, the best way to get more people watching your videos is not to simply make them longer. Video content should focus on delivering consistent value throughout just like any other content format. Videos that keep people watching to the end are shown to more people.
Video content engagement time
The algorithm will prioritize videos that keep viewers watching longer than 1 minute, and gives a visibility bonus to a video that holds attention longer than 3 minutes. This means that videos need to be engaging and well produced. The days of quick short videos are far from over, but video length should be thought of as a currency. A video that retains longer will be able to earn a better ranking even if it doesn't earn points for completion.
Suggestions based on friends interactions
An interesting fact about the algorithm is that it has a function they call “action-bumping logic”. This occurs when friends comment on a post or like it – the algorithm “bumps” that post up to the top of the user's news feed so to see what people are saying about it. This occurs for users who have already seen the post.
Priority on feeds for users you engage with
Facebook is trying to make the News Feed more interesting for users by showing them more content from friends, family and groups. Aka people they have interactions with. What does this mean for marketers? Engage.
Give and get likes, reactions, comments, follows and shares on a regular basis and stay involved with the almighty community. Don't forget that the algorithm also bases a feed's suggestions on the user's friends' interactions. There is a snowball effect to take advantage of.
Bonus alarming pro tip: engaging through Messenger is accounted for as well.
More visibility for fact-checked news sources
Facebook says it wants to prevent fake news stories or clickbait headlines to be promoted on its platform. The company has long been under fire for allowing fake news stories and other low-quality content to spread. Their approach to the matter is interesting; they created a confidential whitelist of news sources that will be promoted on feeds.
If your marketing strategy is to share relevant news to users, make sure to link to the most well-known and reliable source you can find that has an article on your subject. Chances are your post will be on the whitelist train to the top.
Content formats are dosed every user
Whatever content you decide to use, make sure (as much as possible) that it is in a format that resonates with your audience. Generally speaking, if you want to engage your audience and get them excited about your content, you'll make sure to post an image or video. But is that really the format of content your audience consumes the most? As an extreme example, the feed of a user that goes on Facebook only to read the news (yikes) in text format might never see that video of the cat driving a car with 24 million likes.
Recency has priority
Facebook will place older content lower in the feed and, to its algorithm, older content has less relevance than newer content. The more the active users at the time of posting, the more reach it will get. For every post published, timing is of the essence for it to get traction. The right timing for your specific audience may differ, but studies all show high peaks of activity on the platform from 1pm to 3pm on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those peaks often last until 4pm.
Popularity bumps up priority
This one is a given. The more users engage with your post, the higher it will be placed on the feeds of users arriving at the scene.
Recent & Favorites section is Facebook algorithm free
This feed has only one filter for ranking, recency. If your target audience is a frequent user of this feed, your "only" concerns with the Facebook algorithm are quality and timing.
Facebook Live video is prioritized
Facebook Live allows you to be there as it happens. And that’s what people respond to: real-time engagement, authenticity, and a genuine connection. Facebook Live videos are increasing exponentially, and the number of live videos shared by brands on Facebook is following that trend. They are engagement generators with a VIP pass on the algorithm. Can you pull it off? High risks, high rewards.
Non original videos are deprioritized
Upload original videos to Facebook directly when posting. If you’re just linking to YouTube videos that you don’t make yourself, stop wasting energy. This type of content will never get as many likes and comments as original content on your Facebook page.
Facebook Stories are always on top
They disappear after 24 hours and are initially visible only to followers and friends, but they go out with a bang. A survey on brand stories published by Facebook discovered 58% of users say they have browsed the brand's website to get more information, one in two have visited websites where they could buy it, and 31% have gone to a store to check it out. One out of two users declare wanting to see new products and/or tips/advice. Your stories will be on top of your followers' newsfeeds for their entire lifetime.
Posts to Facebook Groups get priority to member feeds
Facebook Group is a second channel strategy, where you can post important content of your business or brand. You need an active community that can help you to spread the word and increase the exposure. Facebook groups are a great way to connect with an online community and build that community into your own marketing force. It’s a secondary channel of content distribution but also a great way to get feedback on certain products as members will most likely want to share their insights as well.
Favorites don't go through the Facebook algorithm
Every user has 30 favorite positions to fill. If you make it, your posts will be top priority on that user's feed, which is nice, but you will also have a special place for that user's friends when it comes to calculating suggestions for their newsfeed.
Engagement bait is penalized
Engagement Bait is a form of clickbait. It is a title that makes you want to read the article, like or react in a highly manipulative way, only really just to get you to click on the post and generate engagement to the algorithm. There are a bunch of obvious Facebook guidelines to follow to avoid penalties that we're not going to get into. However, this one is worth noting as some tend to post titles such as ''Like if you love dogs'' or ''Comment Yes if you brush your teeth 3 times a day'' with no bad intentions. Nevertheless, these are no-nos.
Multiple viewings of a video are factored into Facebook engagement
Views can multiply themselves into more engagement points when users search for a video that was already seen and watch it again. You know that time when Karl just ''had to see'' that video that was posted on Facebook and you showed it to him? Extra points for the post.
This helps when evaluating options for the weight of the content you want to share. If breaking up a long video into multiple smaller clips makes no sense (which is usually preferable for many reasons including completion factor, anticipation of next segment, total engagement generation, etc.), you can rely on the fact that people returning to your video to either finish watching or watch again will be duly accounted for.
The Facebook algorithm tries to spice it up with content types
Facebook will recommend more relevant posts to users based on their interests and behavior. This change is not only a move towards personalization but also a measure to prevent users from getting frustrated with too many irrelevant contents in their news feed.
It will also try to find a balance of post types to fill up the newsfeed as a means to keep it interesting. Users will never be presented with videos only. Some spots will be reserved for other types of content. If you can spot the missing type of content from your industry and use it to post highly relevant content, chances are you will shine.
Hashtags link directly to its followers' feeds
Every social platform has its recommended hashtag portions of the day. Posting more than two hashtags in a Facebook status seems to be not only useless, but can also be detrimental to your post. If you must use a hashtag (and you often do), try to limit it to two and definitely don't use more than three. No one likes to read walls of hashtags and it makes a post look like spam.
Paid Ads are exposed from a brand's page
The point of the update is to bring more transparency to Facebook advertising. Anyone can now see all of the active ads on any Facebook page, which will hopefully stop scam artists from running bogus ad campaigns. This is valuable information and helps gauge many factors when your competition is swarming on the platform.
Bonus tip: Ad dollars should follow traction
More of a tip than an algorithm factor, but you made it this far so here it goes. The top content marketers are the ones that are willing to put their money behind the content that has momentum, even if it's not 100% perfect. You can't always predict which content will take off, but if you see a post with organic momentum, you should quickly put your money behind it and give it the wings to fly high.
Facebook Ad targeting is razor sharp
The data mining is bone-chilling, but Facebook ads are a military-grade-laser-precision advertising platform for businesses. Facebook ads is a huge marketing channel for many global businesses, from the small to the large. The ROI of a business on Facebook depends on what kind of campaign you run and how you run it, but the average results exceed those of other platforms by far. The potential audience volume has however decreased since Apple implemented the upfront option to opt-out of data sharing on its devices.
Off-site linking has lower priority
Facebook is the most visited social media platform in the world and they are looking to keep it that way. They translate their efforts to keep users on their platform as lowering the reach of links to low-quality websites. If you are linking to a high quality source, you are not guaranteed to avoid this filter. However, if you focus on creating a highly engaging profile with no off-sites links to be seen for miles, then that one post with a link has good chances to be treated like a regular post.
Brand pages have lower priority
This one is huge. Facebook made a big change. They are deprioritizing brand pages and putting the focus on personal accounts by giving brands’ posts less priority in the news feed.
If you want your page to make it, read this well. The get out of jail card is your employees. If you have been a good boss, you might even have an arsenal of influencers at your service. Considering all factors covered in this article, combined with a team of spokespersons for your brand, your brand's Facebook page can quickly become one of your strongest marketing tools in the shed.
The Facebook algorithm used to determine what appears in your newsfeed is constantly changing and most of it is a blackbox, so make sure to track what works and what doesn't as you go. To help you do so and fine tune your posts, be sure to use Facebook Insights.
If this guide has been helpful to you in any way, you are most welcome to share it and help someone else in return!