Facebook is no stranger to shaking things up, especially when it comes to their News Feed. Since the News Feed’s launch in September of 2006, it has undergone several transformations including the debut of the “like” button, the switch from chronological to most relevant, the introduction of promotional posts, and now the emphasis on meaningful interactions. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January 2018, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
How It Works:
This new algorithm for the News Feed went into effect shortly after Zuckerberg’s announcement, and it is forcing publishers and marketers to rethink and redesign their social strategy when it comes to organic reach. The algorithm’s four key components, inventory, signals, predictions, and overall score, decide what content appears in users’ News Feeds. Social publishers and marketers need to pay especially close attention to signals.
Previously, Facebook used an array of different signals to determine if content appeared in front audiences. Now, the focus is solely on active interactions such as shares and comments. These active interactions could be: a person shares a link via Messenger, multiple replies to comments on a video, commenting on or liking a person’s photo or status update, and engagement with a publisher/brand post shared by a friend. Facebook sees person-to-person interaction as more valuable than person-to-page, so brands need to focus on making their content personal and conversation-worthy between family and friends and not just attention-grabbing.
The algorithm identifies two types of interactions: active (positive) and passive (neutral). Active interactions, such as commenting, sharing, and reacting, favor your content much more than passive which includes clicking, watching, and viewing/hovering. Passive interactions do not harm a post, but they do not help the content ranking either. While commenting sits at the top of the new algorithm when it comes to content ranking, not all comments are positive, like engagement baiting. Engagement bait posts hoax users into commenting (i.e. “Comment if you like dogs!” featuring an adorable picture of a puppy). These interactions are not seen as meaningful and are pushed out of the News Feed.
Publishers and marketers can take several steps moving forward to increase the chances of high engagement and content ranking.
Publish more videos. Videos are favored in the new algorithm, especially if they are posted directly to the platform. Around 85% of videos watched on Facebook are without sound, so include closed captions. Square videos have also taken off in the past year resulting in 30-35% higher views and an 80-100% increase in engagement.
Go live. The algorithm favors live videos even more. On average, they are watched 3 times longer and lead to more meaningful discussions than regular videos.
Make stories. Facebook launched stories to take on competitor Snapchat and wants brands to take advantage of this new tool to communicate with audiences.
Use paid social. The News Feed algorithm (for now) did not impact the ad algorithm. To drive true business objectives such as awareness and promotion, take advantage of paid social tools.
Encourage see first. The See First option on pages allows users to select which pages’ content they want to ensure will be in their News Feed. Encourage audiences to use this feature if they want to stay up-to-date with content.
Create meaningful content. Most importantly, content that creates meaningful interactions rules supreme. Post content that connects like-minded individuals and creates natural interactions.