How to easily understand the Facebook algorithm and use it to your advantageAug 23, 2017
Facebook. It’s both awesome and frustrating for business owners!
Do you wonder why some posts get more engagement than others? Do you spend hours analysing your stats, trying to crack the FB algorithm?
Well, the good news is you can save your time.
The simple secret to cracking the Facebook algorithm is to understand their business strategy.
What is Facebook’s strategy?
Their strategy is making customer experience the number ONE priority.
Yes, even before making money!
Actually, it’s directly linked to HOW they make so much money.
Creating an amazing customer experience keeps users on their site, active and engaged.
This is how they are ensuring the longevity of their business, and why others in the past have faded away to oblivion – anyone remember MySpace?
From a corporate point of view, FB report to their board and shareholders on active member numbers and hours of engagement.
In 2018 they had over 2 billion active users each month around the world.
In developed nations the percentage of the population on Facebook is high; in Australia it’s over 60%, which is very high considering the population includes newborn babies right through to 100 year old seniors.
Engagement levels and active users are what attracts businesses to advertise on their platform, which is of course where their revenue comes from.
Facebook’s entire existence depends on providing a great customer experience
Keep Facebook a place people like to hang out, people will stay.
Lose focus on what people want, and they will go elsewhere. It would open up an opportunity for a new Facebook to come along that does prioritise the customer experience and Mark Zuckerberg knows this very well.
Therefore, FB are always listening to their customers to understand what they want to see more of, and what they want to see less of.
What do Facebook customers want?
We’ve told them we:
- don’t like being sold to when we’re socialising on Facebook
- don’t like advertising in our feed
- do like video content
- want to see more from our friends and family
- enjoy engaging in discussions (like in our favourite groups)
Not too outlandish when you think about it, is it?
How to use Facebook’s algorithm to your advantage
If you think about it from the users’ point of view, you can easily predict which sort of posts they will like and which ones they won’t.
Facebook uses their algorithm to keep their customer experience in line with what we all want to see more of.
So they’re always adjusting it to make sure their customers are getting the best content and stuff they really enjoy!
Every time you post, Facebook’s algorithm does some quick analysis to figure out if it’s something people will want to see, and give it either a high or low preference in the feed.
For business pages, here’s what NOT to post if you want good reach:
1. anything with selling messages. Each post is analysed for certain words in your post to detect sales-focused messages. E.g. sale, offer, promotion, you, want, buy now, sign up …. you get the picture.
2. links to third party websites. Generally Facebook wants to keep people on Facebook. However, if your audience seem to love your post (you get lots of engagement quickly,) they will raise the preference score so it shows in more people’s feeds.
So this means you need to post content which your audience will like – your own blog posts tend to do much better than sharing posts from other companies.
3. content, videos or images from external sites or applications. Particularly YouTube! FB is in competition with Google, who owns YouTube. Try to create your content directly on Facebook – upload videos and photos rather than sharing from YouTube, Instagram or Pinterest.
This also means you should create your posts directly on the Facebook platform rather than using a scheduling app, as the app is seen as third party content.
That’s what NOT to do, how about what we should be posting?
Using the customer experience strategy as your starting point, think about YOUR audience and what they find enjoyable and interesting so you can create content they will engage with the most.
1. Add value and educate. Share your knowledge and experience. People love learning new things.
2. Entertain and inspire. Share stories about yourself and others that your audience can relate to. It helps them connect with your brand.
3. Video. Ok, before you stick your fingers in your ears, you don’t need to worry. If putting your face on camera scares the pants off you, think of how you can use video for your business.
Maybe it’s simply creating little educational clips like this one I did using a free online video tool called Lumen5:
How to improve your paid ads on Facebook
While Facebook doesn’t like business page posts to be salesy, they don’t mind at all if you pay to do your promoting in sponsored posts!
Sponsored posts (ie. Boosted posts and Ads) are also rated and managed through Facebook’s algorithm to make sure that the customer experience remains high.
Did you notice that there are set positions in the feed for paid ads to appear?
They are very careful not to fill our feeds with advertising, which is why they don’t want our Business page posts to be of a sales nature.
Facebook gives preference to ads that have a good user / customer experience, ones that people engage with.
How to create a good experience with your paid ads
1. use images with no words on them. They actually scan your advert images and won’t approve any advert if the image contains lots of text overlaying the photo.
2. don’t use all caps or lots of exclamation marks. These are seen as spammy.
3. link users to a fast-loading landing page. Slow is more than 3 seconds. A fast-loading website landing page is essential but they much prefer you to use a conversion mechanism within the FB platform itself. They now provide their own lead forms so that we have no need to send people to other websites and can complete a full funnel conversion within Facebook.
4. link users to a relevant landing page. Like Google, they have started to place some importance on where you are sending your leads to. Relevance is super important – so this means if there is a high bounce rate from your ads, you will find visibility/engagement levels dropping.
5. have fresh content. You’ll notice that a high performing ad will hit its peak and start declining after about 3 weeks. This is because ads that are shown too many times become like wallpaper to users. They scroll past because they’ve seen it before. Keep it fresh and your ad will keep performing.
There is of course a lot more involved in creating successful Facebook ads.
One factor is understanding your audience. And being very specific about who they are so you can target properly (this also helps you talk to them in their own language, which helps improve their experience!).
If you don’t have an ideal customer yet, download my FREE customer avatar template and get your brainstorming hat on!
Read more about Customer Experience
Customer experience is a brand strategy that many high growth companies have used to achieve amazing success. I write lots of blogs about it, check out the related blogs below for more!