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Facebook's News Feed Algorithm - Part 2: maximise your reach and exposure

In last week’s post we spoke about the FB news feed algorithm, what it is, the basics of how is works and what it’s meant to do, and we covered off some (rare) insights that the Facebook team has disclosed.

In addition to these insights from FB headquarters, we can also make some educated guesstimates, based on experience and observation, about other factors that influence the appearance of content in the news feed and ways we can tailor our content and activity to maximise the chances of posts being seen by a higher proportion of our audience.

Now just to be super, crystal, sparklingly clear – these observations/guesstimations are based on my experience working in this space; they are by no means fail-safe, silver bullets, and some of them even kind of contradict one another. These are observations that I’ve made and things I’ve seen work across my clients’ and my own Facebook channels.

It’s important to remember that every audience is different, and the way your content is served to individual members of your audience (how often they see it, whether they see it at all, where it appears in their feed) is heavily influenced by them and their activity and behaviour on Facebook, not just by what you do.

These tips and insights are here to help you do what you can to communicate as effectively as possible with the greatest chance of a valuable outcome.

So, here we go!

Timing matters

As we discussed in last week’s post, how quickly your content receives engagement effects the position of that content in the news feed.

With this in mind, it’s super important to know when your audience is online and to post at times when you can maximise the immediate impact of your post.

If you put something up and it reaches 125 people in the first 10 minutes but doesn’t get any likes, comments or shares chances are Facebook is not going to see that as a valuable piece of content.

The more engagement you get, the higher your reach will be, but faster engagement will give you n extra boost!

Less can mean more

Posting less can help you reach more people. So many of the clients I work with get caught up in the trap of constant posting – multiple, multiple posts per day (often as many as 10 – 15) that all seem to be reaching a very limited fraction of their audience.

Facebook’s news feed algorithm is user-centric, it doesn’t want to spam users with content they’re not engaging with from the same page numerous times in one day.

My first advice for these clients is to scale back and see how it impacts their reach. Posting less regularly doesn’t mean sporadically or in an ad hoc way – it can be twice a day, every second day, three times a week, but every client I’ve worked with who has implemented this change and scaled back their posting has seen a MARKED difference in the reach and engagement they’re getting.

Even clients who have been happy with the reach and engagement they were getting have been thrilled with the huge leap in reach they get when they cut down on the number of posts.

Quality will ALWAYS win over quantity, and, in my experience, a higher quantity of posts can have a negative impact on your reach. Investing your time and energy into developing fewer, really strong posts will deliver a far greater return on investment.

The flow-on effect

One really successful post, where your reach goes WAY further than the majority of your usual posts, will often mean that the next one doesn’t reach as many people.

My theory on this comes back to Facebook’s ‘anti-spam’ approach – if heaps of people have seen a post from you recently, far more of your audience than usual, they limit the number of people who receive the next post from your page in an attempt to prevent the audience from being ‘spammed’.

Change the format of your content

Changing the format of your content can help with your reach. If you have a very specific type of content that you always post (a text-based image, sharing other people’s content etc), try varying it a little. Mixing up your formula can help to increase the number of people the content is served to – try a text only post, a unique, never-seen-before image, sharing a well performing piece of content or something that relates to a trending topic, or even a post shared through from Instagram.

Unique Content

Facebook loves brand new content – especially images and videos. Creating bespoke imagery or dynamic content is a great way to increase your reach; when Facebook doesn’t recognise a piece of content it’s more likely to share it around further.

Facebook loves video

Video works wonders on Facebook! FB is trying to position itself as a rival video hub to YouTube, so video content that is exclusively published on the platform (rather than publishing elsewhere and sharing the link) is favoured content and will go further.

Test, learn and evolve - use your insights

Like I’ve said before, every audience is different, and every page is different. The most important thing for any page manager to do is to pay attention to how different pieces of content perform. Look at your insights page, compare the reach of posts at different times of the day, different days of the week. How does your audience respond to images, videos, text-only posts? Do they like being asked questions, or reading inspiring quotes, or watching funny gifs?

Try different things, analyse what has worked, what hasn’t and then tweak what you’re doing and try again. Test, learn and evolve; and, as always, your audience should be at the centre of EVERYTHING you do. Knowing who you’re targeting and what they’re looking for is A#1 essential!

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