The Ever-Changing Facebook Algorithm & What You Need to Know

By March 17, 2018 Facebook, Socialyfe


It’s the monumentally massive social media platform that’s forever changed the way we communicate with friends and family, arm ourselves with information, and make purchasing decisions based on digital influence.

It’s an important communication and marketing tool in today’s ever-connected society, and, guess what? It’s always changing.

Facebook is like a living, breathing animal that is continually revising the way it provides information to users through its News Feed. Recently, the platform announced changes to the way it’s prioritizing posts and serving stories. For many, the announcement created concern that there will continue to be declining page and post reach, and fan engagement.

Don’t worry, though, because we’ve taken the time to understand what these changes mean for you. Let’s break it down.  

What is the Facebook algorithm?

This is a proprietary formula Facebook created to make sure the social media platform is showing you the most meaningful and relevant content based on your interests. Facebook continually changes its algorithm based on user feedback to create a better overall experience.

The algorithm looks at the thousands of different posts available for your News Feed and chooses the most relevant content to show based on what’s trending with your friends, family, and in your physical location (yes, this is a tad creepy).

Now, the algorithm knows what content is relevant based on engagement – the magical word we all love that refers the number of likes, comments, and shares a post is receiving. The more engagement your posts get, the more viral reach (or eyeballs) it sees.

The four following components are what Facebook uses to decide whether or not to serve a post in a user’s News Feed:

  • Inventory – the amount of content available to distribute
  • Signals – considerations about the content (more on this shortly)
  • Predictions – consideration about the person and the content they’ve interacted with in the past
  • Overall Score

The newest Facebook algorithm changes

Facebook announced it’s making a “meaningful interactions” update to its New Feed that prioritizes posts that create meaningful conversations, specifically between family and friends.

Essentially, this means now, more than ever, meaningful engagement with your content is going to make or break whether or not your content gets seen.

The platform is using what it calls “Signals,” to weigh what content to push further into people’s News Feeds. For those of us in the business of content creation and social media marketing, these “signals” are important to consider when developing a post.

It’s an ambiguous term, we know, but these are a few things Facebook considers when giving your content an overall signals score:

  • Average time a user spends on your piece of content
  • Is the content’s link being share on Facebook messenger (publicly in addition to privately)?
  • Multiple comments and replies on a video shared by a person – not a brand or page
  • Overall engagement – are people reacting and commenting on your content?
  • Is the story being shared by a friend or by a brand/publisher?
  • The time the content was posted
  • The story type
  • How informative is the post?

Now, within these different signals, Facebook weighs a user’s actions to determine if a piece of content is relevant or not. Some hold more weight than others, and Facebook calls these “passive” versus “active” actions. Passive actions are good; active actions are the holy grail of Facebook content.

Active actions include commenting, sharing and reacting, while passive actions include clicking, watching and hovering.

For example, one share is going to hold a lot more weight within the algorithm than one like because a share means your content is so good, a user wants their community to see it. Right? It makes sense if you think about it because we only share the things that are important to us or make us feel an emotion.

In short, the new algorithm means:

  1. Content driving meaningful engagement and interactions will perform much better than content that only drives consumption.
  2. Pages may see a decrease in reach, watch time, and referral traffic, depending on the content.

So, what now?

Facebook believes that a person-to-person connection is more meaningful and carries more weight than a page-to-person connection, which means the more people that share, comment and interact with a page, the more likely that page is to show up in a News Feeds. Engagement with your content tells Facebook that it is valuable, people like it, and more people need to see it.

As you look to develop your digital marketing strategies with Facebook, the two most important things to consider and remember when developing content is:

  1. Create content that connects with like-minded individuals
  2. Post content that naturally establishes a meaningful connection

With this update, Facebook is forcing marketers and content creators to be more meaningful and thoughtful in the type of posts they develop and push out to their digital social communities. Lack-luster posts with little to no value will no longer do the trick, and posting something just to post can end up hurting and downgrading your page in the long run.

So, the moral of this story is that content is, once again, king! The key to using this updated algorithm is developing content that will generate a comment or share. Good content equals more engagement, which increases your viral reach and leads to more eyeballs and more overall brand awareness.

If you’d like to read more about these new Facebook changes, check out Mark Zuckerberg’s personal post explaining the updates here Zuck’s Facebook Post

Stay tuned, too! This is not the last change we’ll see from Facebook’s News Feed.

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