Over the past years, businesses have taken sharps hits in their organic Facebook reach due to various News Feed algorithm changes. Compared to today, early Facebook adopters had a rather easy time to grow their business pages to high follower numbers.
Today, posts by family and friends will always win first priority, followed by professional pages that Facebook wants to pay (through ads) to get the same visibility.
Changes to the ominous algorithm reflect Facebook’s business strategies. Unfortunately, almost no one can afford the luxury to keep using the same digital marketing or outreach techniques that have been applied in the past.
In order to help you to crack the algorithm and increase your unpaid, organic reach, you can apply a few tricks to spice things up.
Here are our tried and tested growth hacks you can apply right now to make the algorithm work for you in 2020.
#1 Create engaging and shareable content that resonates through time
The days of casually posting content for numbers are long gone. Facebook has adopted the ‘Stories’ mode made famous by Instagram. It means that posts with authentic engagement will be prioritized in the news feed. Thus, you have to go for content that will actually promote conversations, instead of just fishing for likes.
In fact, how your post will rank on other users’ feed depends on various factors like:
1. Affinity (one’s relationships to the poster),
2. Weight (how many likes, shares, and comments a post has)
3. Decay (how old the post is and the amount of time spent viewing it)
4. Type (Link share, video, image, etc.)
Your posts should create a ripple effect by motivating your interactions to talk to you directly. The result is Facebook will promote such posts, not just in your News Feed, but in that of your friends as well and others who like, share or comment on the same post.
Remember, the algorithm built on AI and other advanced data science tools will easily weed out interactions that seem robotic. For example, if you simply like everything in your news feed and no-one in those feeds actually responds to you, the algorithm will drop you lower on its rankings until your input is no longer visible.
#2 Go slow on the calls to action in your posts
Don’t bait people into interacting with you. Facebook’s algorithm reads directly into your post through natural language processing. Posts that contain “don’t forget to like or subscribe”, “tag your friends” or “please comment below” are heavily discouraged as it appears to the algorithm like they are baiting users.
Facebook’s approach is to promote meaningful content, and such content should be able to elicit natural reactions from users without seeming forced or coerced.
The alternative to this is to drop a comment on your post, asking people to like it, to follow you, or to subscribe.
#3 Ask your followers to set your page To ‘See First’
Facebook now provides the option to let users set the preferences of who they would like to interact with first on their news feed. Users can also turn on notifications for those users they prefer.
This procedure is just as simple as going to the page you’d like to interact with, set it on ‘Following’ and clicking on ‘See First’ and turning on notifications.
“Visit our page and give it a try to see how easy it is. While you’re doing that, don’t forget to subscribe!!11″ 😉
#4 Avoid posting links
Facebook’s goal is to keep you on its site for as long as possible. This is the only way those targeted ads actually work. The algorithm thus discourages any posting of links that would redirect users outside of Facebook. Such posts will, in most cases, not even show up on your news feed.
If you post a link, try posting it in the comments section and not on the actual post. This won’t affect the algorithm as it won’t read these.
#5 ‘Warm Up’ the Algorithm before posting
Before you post anything, consider spending a few minutes going through your News Feed and like, share or comment on posts and stories. This ‘warms up’ the algorithm and makes your feed visible to other users.
Also, there is a higher likelihood that you will engage with the post of a user who commented on or liked your post, and this is the logic behind the warm-up.
#6 Keep your engagement at a high
Always look for a way to create meaningful engagements with your posts through stories, comments, and Messenger. Instead of doing numerous posts, go for a story, and interact with anyone willing to interact back. Remember, comments are preferred over likes. Extend those engagements to Messenger, for example, when trying to close a sale, as opposed to making a sales pitch on the actual post which the algorithm will pick up and flag.
Restrict yourself to a minimal number of posts, preferably less than three per day (depending on the size of your business). Don’t repeatedly post. Otherwise, you’re just competing with yourself. Give each post at least 3 hours in between, and if a reaction isn’t elicited, consider even deleting it. Try to post consistently, and at similar times as you usually do during the day or week.
Focus on early engagement with your post. If your post is liked by many people within the first few minutes, it has a higher likelihood of being successful. Otherwise, it will just fade in the news feed. This means that your posts should be designed to elicit a reaction immediately.
Some of the best ways to generate engagement with your posts include:
- Asking questions that lead to discussions.
- Putting up surveys and comparison posts with leads containing “who”, “what”, “which”, “where” and “how”.
- Create contests and giveaways.
- Be creative and go for the unusual. Create ‘ever-green’ posts, i.e., posts that don’t lose relevance with time.
- Go for Live video, which is bound to attract people to your post.
If you put up a post and it fails to elicit the reactions you were looking for, learn from that mistake and delete the post, as it only hurts your future rankings on the algorithm.
#7 Start posting videos longer than 3 minutes
Facebook is actively competing with platforms like Youtube and Twitch for your viewing time.
In May 2019, Facebook said that they made updates to video rankings and how they rate videos. Depending on your strategy, it’s no longer just about keeping it short and simple.
Here are the three factors how Facebook ranks your videos now:
- Loyalty and intent: videos that people search for;
- Video length and duration: videos that people watch past the 1-minute mark, and that are longer than 3 minutes;
- Originality: videos that aren’t repurposed from other sources and that have plenty of added value.
Keep those rules in mind when making your own Facebook videos and applying your digital strategy.
#8 Consider boosting your posts with the Facebook Business Manager
As already mentioned, businesses and brands have taken a hit through the decrease of organic content sharing.
If you are a business or brand, consider running more ads on your successful posts. This is the easiest way to bypass the algorithm and is also great for targeting your product to other relevant pages or users.
If you do this, be sure not to make the classic beginner mistake. DO NOT use the” Boost Post” button, but the Facebook Business Manager. The “Boost Post” option lacks basic targeting and bidding optimization methods that are crucial to generating meaningful results.
Bypass the algorithm with these strategies
If you can’t beat them, join them, and create meaningful and engaging content for your audience. That’s the best way to think about these changes implemented by Facebook. Using the techniques discussed above, you will be able to gain new followers, increase your visibility and online presence, and boost your business on this platform.