Decoding the Facebook Algorithm
What is an algorithm?
As a marketer, the importance of Facebook is undeniable; however, the application of it can be somewhat frustrating to say the least. What makes one post viral, and the next one an utter flop perplexes even the most skilled marketers at times. The magic behind the Russian roulette of Facebook posts is the almighty powerful Facebook algorithm. An algorithm is a formula or set of steps used for solving a particular problem.
Facebook uses its algorithm to sort, sift and make sense of the huge number of posts that are created each day to ensure the user experience is one that is useful and enjoyable.
The accumulation of negative press plus user feedback is why the company has made recent and swift moves to eradicate the types of content that make people either mad, bad or sad.In fact, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement outlining how he intends to help people have “meaningful social interactions” between one another coupled with a further reduction in organic reach has some in the comms business worried.
Unstanding how the algorithm works and how to 'work' it will help.
How does the Facebook algorthm work?
Whether searching on Google or scrolling through Facebook, the information that is presented comes from a mathematical equation based on two factors:
Algorithmic quality – the quality standard of the content available
Your previous history – the actions and reactions you’ve taken to specific chunks of content in the past
This means whether by design or by personal choice, social media algorithms have allowed us to create filters to see content we want and remove everything else we don’t.
Facebook’s algorithm ranks posts using the following four steps:
Inventory- What posts are available at the current time to show
Signals- Looking at available data called signals, Facebook ranks the content. Data is pulled from who posted the story, the current time, what device it was posted with and how much time is spent reading a particular post.
Predictions- Using these signals, Facebook makes predictions based on what you will do with the post (how likely you are to comment, like or share).
Score- Facebook assigns each post a score based on all of these things, this score dictates the posts that are displayed in a newsfeed.
What else do we know about the Facebook algorithm?
It will prioritise content that stimulates a conversation between friends and family
It will prioritise live video because it receives more interactions
A post is served to a small percentage of users to measure initial engagement
Engagement is based on a points system
Posts with long-form comments will receive a higher weighting
Native content takes precedence over links to other sites
Clickbait and asking people to ‘like, comment or share’ your content will receive a markdown
As a marketer managing client’s Facebook accounts, yielding top results for clients is a priority. Maximizing Facebook reach and enhancing engagement are important metrics that clients expect.
Not that we have the means to completely understand how the algorithm works. None of the social networking companies make their algorithmic equations available to the public.
Facebook, on occasion, release tidbits of the inner workings of their algorithms and we can make assumptions based on company announcements and testing, but no one has the complete recipe.
What’s presented here is based on a combination of publicly disclosed information by Facebook, third-party research, some basic assumptions and a little common sense.