If you want to get ahead with your social media marketing campaigns and grow your business on Facebook, one of the first things you’re going to need to learn is how its algorithm works. As the old saying goes, you need to learn the rules before you can break them.
In this case, however, it’s more about playing in harmony with the rules rather than trying to force your way through. In other words, if you learn what the Facebook algorithm is starving for, you can give it exactly what it wants and be rewarded handsomely for it with better reach.
The good news is, Facebook’s algorithm is somewhat predictable in the sense that it wants relevancy, clarity, freshness, authoritativeness, and anything else one might associate with quality. It’s kind of like SEO, but for social media, so the concept is similar – it’s the execution that varies.
Keep in mind that knowing how to beat the Facebook algorithm boils down to understanding how it ticks. We’re not going to teach you how to manipulate it, nor should you want to do that in the first place. The reason is, these so-called ‘hacks’ tend to be short-lived and you’re generally much better off doing things the proper way from the get go if you want long-term results.
But enough preaching. We’re here to let you in on how Facebook algorithm works and how to dismantle it to supercharge your social media marketing campaigns.
So you want a tip to circumvent the Facebook algorithm? Start by familiarizing yourself with the essentials and some basic terms first.
One of the most important things to remember is that not every post has the same amount of reach. In fact, what gets displayed on someone’s newsfeed is unique to that individual. It’s a complex set of rules, but to simplify it, the main idea is for it to make a judgment call based on that person’s browsing history, interests, and similar. In other words, displaying the kind of content that person is the most likely to read.
If you want to improve your Facebook reach and frequency of your posts getting shown, you should design your profile in a way that it speaks to a laser-targeted audience that’s focused around a certain niche. And vice versa – the worst thing you can do is being all over the place with your content. There are exceptions to this as well, so don’t take it word-for-word; it’s just a general pointer to follow.
What makes the Facebook algorithm tick?
Beyond the essentials we’ve laid out above, there is more to know about the matter if you want to know how to beat Facebook algorithm. This is how it decides what posts to show any given user on their news feed:
1. First, before deciding what to serve any particular user on their news feed, the algorithm checks the platform’s entire inventory to pinpoint what might align with their interests.
2. After picking a candidate post to show, in the background, it then fetches its authoritativeness metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and any other form of signals that suggest that people are interacting with it.
3. The algorithm then goes on to analyze the requesting user’s profile and takes a look at any previous searches that user has initiated, their interests, etc.
4. Finally, to decide what piece of content should appear at the top of someone’s news feed, all of the above is taken into consideration and a score is assigned to each of them. The most relevant posts are then shown at the top and the least relevant at the bottom (or act as a reserve to display something after the supply pool has been exhausted).
Now that you understand what goes on in the background and how Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes what to show, let’s get you familiarized with some of the terms that you’re going to need to know in order to beat it at its game.
Before we delve into some advanced Facebook algorithm hacks, here is a quick glossary that will help you understand the topic at hand.
- Views: how many times a page has been viewed in total.
- Reach: the number of people who saw the content you posted on your page. To compare Facebook reach vs views, the former only counts unique users, whereas the latter counts all views.
- Potential reach: a term that’s related to your chosen target audience. In essence, it means how many people you can potentially reach with your campaign.
- Engagement: when someone interacts with one of your posts. To compare Facebook reach vs engagement, the former represents the unique number of eyeballs that have seen your content, whereas the latter measures whether some concrete action has taken place (whether it be a user liking your post, commenting on it, sharing it, and similar).
- Delivery: this refers to running paid ad campaigns on the social media platform. The status can be either active, paused, or off. A related term is Facebook optimization for ad delivery, which essentially means Facebook using advanced machine learning techniques to tweak your ad’s performance.
- Frequency: another term that’s related to Facebook ads. It means how many times an ad got displayed to the same individual.
Keep in mind this is a short version of it that will help you understand what we’re about to discuss. Otherwise, we could easily dedicate an entire blog post to these terms, which is a topic best left for another day.
With that out of the way, here’s the first thing you can do to get better reach on Facebook and keep its algorithm happy:
TIP 1: Find a way to improve your engagement
An engaged audience is the kind of audience that interacts with your posts. The last thing you want is to have a whole bunch of followers that don’t serve any other purpose other than making your follower count look pretty; these certainly won’t do you any favors with Facebook's algorithm. And it’s not only for the sake of pleasing the algorithm either – it’s for making sure that whatever you’re offering actually converts. That’s why you have a social media presence in the first place, right?
To improve your engagement on Facebook, you’re going to need to ask yourself some concrete questions and do some testing as generic advice will only take you so far. To get your gears spinning:
- What is the common denominator of your top performing posts? Could it be something as simple as including an image?
- What is the ideal post length? Does your audience respond better to one-liners or detailed posts?
- What tone of voice resonates best with them? Casual, formal, dramatic, uplifting…?
- What time of the day are your followers most active?
Since each case is unique, we cannot give you a one-size-fits-all solution. We can, however, help you find the answers on your own; simply ask yourself the questions above.
TIP 2: Be factual
Facebook is allergic to fake news and misinformation and it will go to great lengths to combat them. Nowadays, it has gotten so advanced that any content that falls into that category will automatically get flagged as such, meaning that other users will receive a warning instead of being able to click on the link directly.
The solution is to check what you link to, as failing to do so can hurt your reach and potentially get your account flagged. This is easier said than done, so take all the precautions you can to protect yourself, even if it means spending a couple more minutes on fact-checking.
TIP 3: Listen to what your analytics metrics are telling you
Many people ask, is there a way to circumvent the Facebook algorithm? The truth is, even if one existed, it probably wouldn’t be around for too long until the developers would notice and get it patched.
So given that you’re operating in an environment where the rules can change at a moment’s notice and that the right thing to be doing also depends on other variables such as the niche you’re operating in, what is the next best thing?
The answer is delving into the sheer data that your analytics are serving you. If you haven’t started already, now’s the time. Yes, this approach does take some time and a bit of mental effort, but the upside is, you won’t need to rely on other people to tell you what the right course of action is. You’ll have your own data to draw a conclusion on.
Plus, once you’ve identified what works for you, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to replicate it on demand.
TIP 4: Sprinkle in some hashtags
We’ve written a whole dedicated post on the proper way to use hashtags on social media and outlined the correct way to use them for each of the popular networks, including Facebook. We certainly encourage you to give it a detailed read, but if you’re in a hurry, here are the key takeaways:
- Keep them relevant to your post.
- Stick to the ones that are popular.
- Don’t try to stuff them or go overboard with them (this could potentially get your account flagged for spam).
- If you need inspiration, it doesn’t hurt to check what your competitors are doing.
PRO TIP: Use Ocoya's built-in hashtag generator if you don't have the time to research them yourself. It literally only takes one click!
TIP 5: Reply to your followers
Whenever someone takes some time out of their busy day, thank them for their effort. If it’s a direct question regarding your brand, answer it promptly. If you think it’s not a great investment of your time, think again. Remember about the engagement factor we spoke about earlier? Replying to comments is like a free ticket to boost that crucial algorithmic metric.
Plus, that person will see you as a human being who actually cares rather than just another faceless corporate entity, so it’s a win-win. Other users will see it as well, meaning that you’re effectively positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your niche by sharing your expertise. Whatever it is that you’re selling, it goes without saying this will do wonders for your conversion rate.
TIP 6: Consider running Facebook Ads
In the social media marketing circles, it’s been known for a long time that Facebook is becoming increasingly more pay-to-play. Naturally, this drives up the competition, and consequently the costs of running paid ads on Facebook. But nevertheless, this may be what it takes to finally get your content seen and get the ball rolling with impressions and engagement.
Think of ways you can be strategic about it. Is your company running a seasonal promotion as part of which people can buy your products at a discount? This may be worth spending some advertising dollars on. In turn, your customers will also see that you’re active on this social media channel and engage with your posts. And once the ball is rolling, it’s hard to stop it, and your content will be well positioned to receive some organic traffic as well.
TIP 7: Get your profile verified
Have you ever seen a blue tick icon next to someone’s profile and wondered what it all means? It’s a confirmation that someone has verified their account and a badge of authenticity. In other words, by displaying a badge like this, other people will know they’re interacting with a legitimate company and not an imitator. On top of that, a simple thing like this will assign a higher score to your profile in Facebook’s algorithm, and you need to seize every advantage you can get.
TIP 8: Speak to the local audience (if applicable)
Does your business have any kind of local presence? It turns out that, in general, Facebook is much more likely to push local content rather than the one that’s geared towards global markets. Whether it be local news or local services, this is the kind of content it’s rather easy to get eyeballs on. And if you happen to have a shop in, say, Iowa, it’s much easier to get your content to reach people in that particular local area than other regions.
And, in case you're wondering how to create 5 highly engaging social media posts in as little as 5 minutes, Ocoya is the answer:
If you’ve wondered how to beat the Facebook algorithm, we’ve given you the most crucial steps you need to follow. Long story short, it’s about relevance, quality, authoritativeness, engagement, factuality, and any other metrics the algorithm happens to be favoring at any given time. So now that you have a general idea on what you should be doing, it’s on you to keep testing and refining your Facebook domination strategy.