Why do some Facebook posts go viral with reach and engagement, while others die off without so much as a handful of likes?
If you create content for social media audiences and still struggle with the Facebook algorithm, you aren’t alone.
The good news is that Facebook’s algorithm isn’t a black box anymore. They have been slowly informing their users how exactly they rank and prioritize content in the news feeds.
Here’s how Facebook’s algorithm works in 2021 and what you can do to make it work for you.
What Is The Facebook Algorithm?
The Facebook algorithm decides which posts people see every time they check their Facebook feed. Facebook has reiterated that there is no single algorithm, but rather multiple layers of AI (artificial intelligence) built to predict which posts will be most valuable and meaningful to Facebook users over the long haul.
Instead of presenting every Facebook post in chronological order, the Facebook algorithm analyzes every post, scores it, and then arranges it in order of interest for each individual user. This process happens every time a user (all 2.7 billion of them) refreshes their newsfeed.
What does this mean for brands? When it comes to increasing organic reach, the Facebook algorithm will reward you for posting content that people engage with.
4 Facebook Algorithm Ranking Signals To Consider in 2021
- Relationship: Is the post from one of your friends, a business, news source, or public figure that the user often engages with? (messages, tags, engages with, follows).
- Content-type: What type of media is in the post and which type of media do users interact with most? (text, photo, video, or links).
- Popularity: How are people who have already seen the post reacting to it? Are they sharing it, commenting on it, or just scrolling past it?
- Recentness: How new is the post? Newer posts are placed higher in the feed.
Let’s take a look at how brands can work with the algorithm to optimize and grow their organic reach.
7 Tips For Working With The Facebook Algorithm
Reply to your audience when they leave a comment
While your branded content will never truly be able to compete with cat memes, it’s still very important to build connections with each person in your audience.
The Facebook algorithm prioritizes posts from pages that a user has interacted with in the past. This means that leveling up your reply game is key, whether that’s in Facebook Messenger or the comments.
If a person has taken the time to engage with your brand, don’t waste the opportunity. That is low-hanging fruit that can be used to grow your reach and engagement.
Get your audience commenting to each other on your post
This tip comes from Facebook itself. If a post has triggered a lot of engagement from your friends, the algorithm applies “action-bumping logic” to show that post to the user again.
That means that the most interesting conversations get more reach, in the form of a second chance.
The Facebook algorithm values content that people want to share and comment on with their friends.
Aim For Emotional Reactions Over Likes
For the last few years, the Facebook algorithm has weighed reaction buttons more heavily than a simple Like.
So invoking emotional reactions in your posts such as love, caring, laughter, sadness, and anger will go a longer way than just smashing that like button.
Post When Your Audience Is Online
You’ve heard this one a thousand times, but we have to stress it again because Facebook keeps stressing it. Use your analytics to determine the best times to post on Facebook.
That said, the easiest way to win at this is to schedule your posts to go up at the best time for your Facebook audience.
Start Using Facebook Stories
Facebook Stories are not part of the newsfeed, therefore they are not governed by the algorithm. They float above the newsfeed figuratively and literally. According to Facebook, they’re also effective at driving traffic. 58% of people say they’ve visited a brand’s website for more information after watching a Facebook Story.
What kind of Facebook Stories should you post? According to a study by Facebook, users said they want the following from branded Stories:
- 52% want Stories that are easy to understand
- 50% want to see new products
- 46% want tips or advice
Use Facebook Live Video
At the height of the pandemic in 2020 everyone was stuck at home which resulted in Facebook Live video experiencing a 50% jump.
Because Facebook Live video receives 6x more engagement than regular video, the algorithm gives it priority over a standard posted video.
Post Longform Video That People Want To Watch
Watch time and completion rates are crucial ranking signals for video because they indicate that the viewer enjoyed the video enough to watch it in its entirety.
The longer you keep people interested, the higher your video post will be scored by the algorithm, resulting in higher rankings in the newsfeed.
The Facebook algorithm is sophisticated and there’s no way to “hack it,” but there are simple steps you can take to make the algorithm work in your favor.
- Keep your content meaningful by being a conversation starter
- Engage with your audience
- Stay away from clickbait
- Use video content
- Track your performance with Facebook Insights
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