I’m sure you know it by now, but you are a commodity to Facebook. Your attention is anyway. To keep your interest and attention, Facebook's always tweaking its News Feed algorithm to ensure that users are served the most engaging and relevant material possible.
Usually these updates are good for the overall user experience, but they can also cause significant headaches for marketers, and there were two that were recently announced which marketers need to be aware of if they want to make the most of the already dwindling organic reach.
But before we jump into these updates, let's have a quick crash course on the Facebook News Feed algorithm. With so many people and brands now active on The Social Network, the amount of content that is eligible to be served to Facebook users on a daily basis is huge. It's estimated that each user is eligible to be shown up to 1,500 different pieces of content daily, but only see roughly 300. Competition for real estate is extremely high, so to manage all this, and ensure that each user gets a relevant experience, Facebook has a News Feed Algorithm which measures over a thousand different factors to help sift through the noise.
The below two updates are only a slice of what Facebook considers when it comes to choosing which content to serve - but these updates are particularly relevant for marketers looking to make the most of their Facebook presence.
For Videos, Intent and Repeat Viewership Matter
Video is a huge trend when it comes to marketing on Facebook, however, you need to be posting video that people will want to watch.
Facebook released a News Feed Algorithm update in mid-December which will give preference to videos which people are proactively searching for, and returning to Facebook to watch.
This is broken out into two factors:
- Intent – If people are going out of their way to find your video content through searching on Facebook or going directly to your page, your videos will receive greater distribution and will reach more people.
- Repeat Viewership – If people are watching videos from the same publisher frequently, that publisher’s videos will get preference in the News Feed making it easier for new people to discover that content.
So, what’s the takeaway? Don’t make video for the hell of it. If you want to get value out of your investment in social video, especially on Facebook, make content that people will want to watch and will come back to view more than once, or focus on episodic content to boost repeat viewership of your subsequent posts.
Engagement Bait Gets Devalued
Have you seen posts in your News Feed that start with “Like this if…” or “Share with a friend…”?
This change will impact both people and Pages which use this spammy tactic to get engagement. Facebook's taking this change seriously, and has even created a machine learning model that can detect distinct types of Engagement Bait. This will be used to further punish people or Pages who repeatedly use engagement bait in their posts.
So how do you know what qualifies as 'Engagement Bait'? Here are some examples of what to avoid:
- Tag Baiting - Asking people to tag their friends.
- Comment Baiting - Asking people to comment with specific answers (words, numbers, phrases, or emojis).
- Vote Baiting - Asking people to vote using reactions, comments, sharing, or other means of representing a vote.
- React Baiting - Asking people to react to the post (includes like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry).
- Share Baiting - Asking people to share the post with their friends.
Facebook says that if Page Admins post authentic and valuable content, they shouldn’t feel too much of a squeeze.
Links to Low-Quality Websites Will be Devalued
Let’s face it. There is a lot of spam and junk out there on the internet that gets fed by social media traffic. Facebook wants to help users avoid said junk by devaluing links to websites which provide poor web experiences.
Facebook's reviewed hundreds of thousands of different pages linked to from Facebook and developed a list of common characteristics which may indicate that a web page has low-value or spammy content.
How can you be sure that this update doesn’t tank organic reach to your web pages?
- Ensure that your landing pages do not have disruptive, malicious or shocking ads.
- Ensure your page load speed is up to par – slow loading sites will likely be impacted.
- Make sure your landing pages have substantive content. Put effort into the landing pages where you intend to send traffic.
- Monitor your bounce rates and pages per session metrics. If people are going deeper into your site from your landing page, it’s a good sign.
Even if these updates are a pain for marketers, Facebook should be applauded for going over and above to constantly provide a great user experience. After all, Facebook grew to power by being a place to connect and discover.
That said, it is important for social media managers to maintain awareness of Facebook's various updates, and ensure they're evolving their strategies in line.