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Five Ways to Crack the Facebook Algorithm

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm can often feel like a complete mystery. It makes some posts go viral overnight but lets others die without even a handful of courtesy likes.

The good news is that Facebook is slowly becoming more transparent about how it ranks and prioritises content in the News Feed and social media managers are continuing to gain valuable insights from using the platform on a daily basis.

Here are our top five tips on increasing the lifecycle of your Facebook content.

Encourage engagement without engagement baiting

The algorithm prioritises posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions.” This means it favours high-value engagement such as comments, replies to those comments, and users sharing the post with their friends.  The more engagement a post receives, the more likely it is to be shown to more people.

You’ll see some brands trying to increase engagement through post captions like “Comment YES if you agree” however this is called engagement baiting and it’s something the algorithm will pick up on, downranking your post and page.

Instead, before publishing your Facebook post, ask yourself what kind of reaction it will encourage from your audience.  Aim to publish content that gets people talking to each other and taps into strong emotions that they are genuinely likely to respond to.  You can still ask a question in the post caption that will elicit a response but without baiting for comments, likes or shares.

Keep it native

Facebook wants its users to stay on Facebook and anything that guides them away from here (like an external YouTube video or a link to a website) poses a threat to this and won’t be favoured by the algorithm.

Rather than sharing external links, publish a video or image directly through the platform and add the link as a comment underneath the post. This will stop the algorithm from picking up on it and also make the post look more engaging than a text-only post.

Post longer video content

Last year Facebook announced a video ranking update detailing how the algorithm will prioritize original, quality, long-form video. Videos are now ranked higher in the News Feed if they are watched past the one minute mark and are longer than three minutes in duration.

Focus on creating longer videos for your Facebook posts, using the most enticing scenes at the start to keep your audience’s attention for at least a minute, and then diving deeper into the story for the remaining three to four minutes.

Prioritise quality over quantity

Yes, posting more content on Facebook will help increase overall engagement levels, however, Facebook is less forgiving than any other platform if you get these posts wrong.  If a post performs significantly worse than your usual average, it will have a negative impact on the following posts, dragging down their performance too.

The same rule applies for posts that perform significantly better and their success can increase the reach of your following posts.

This means that on Facebook less is sometimes more.   Focussing on only publishing the best pieces of content will be more rewarding than posting something just to fill the page.

Use Facebook’s data and insights

Facebook’s Business Manager tools not only provide a variety of analytics to track and measure but they also offer valuable insights that can improve your content and posting strategy.

Using the available data you can decide what days and times to publish posts, based on when your followers are online.  Video performance insights can show you if viewers dropped off after a certain point in the clip (possibly the intro titles), which you can use to improve any future video content.  Even simply reviewing the comments on best-performing posts can help you improve future content by understanding why audiences have engaged with certain topics.

Simply put, digging a little deeper and using any available performance data to your advantage is often worth the effort.

Eleni Los 

SMMS invited Eleni Los, formerly of the Channel 4 Social team, to write about her experiences of Channels’social media support for TV programmes.