Many advertisers today still grapple with understanding Facebook’s new algorithm and how content is ranked on the News Feed, especially with Facebook’s 2018 algorithm updates.
We first learned about the new Facebook algorithm changes at 2018’s F8 conference, and Facebook reaffirmed those changes with surveys to further curate friend-based content over publisher content.
Here’s everything we know about the new Facebook algorithm, how it works, and some tips on how to improve the longevity of your content within the News Feed in 2020.
Facebook is taking a cue from Google to curate content based on a metric of relevance, or trust. This is an opportunity for advertisers to understand the algorithm and optimize their content for a better user experience.
-Nii Ahene, Chief Strategy Officer at Tinuiti
How the New Facebook Algorithm Works
The new Facebook algorithm works by ranking all available posts that can display on a user’s News Feed based on how likely that user will have a positive reaction.
Facebook’s algorithm for ranking and displaying content on your News Feed is based on four factors:
- The Inventory of all posts available to display.
- Signals that tell Facebook what each post is.
- Predictions on how you will react to each post.
- A Final Score assigned to the content based on all factors considered.
The New Facebook Algorithm
The new Facebook algorithm works by prioritizing content posted from friends over publishers, with a focus on “meaningful interactions.”
Since the data controversy erupted around the social network in late 2017, Facebook has worked to improve transparency around how it ranks content on the News Feed.
Facebook went public with changes to the algorithm in their post “Meaningful Interactions” update back in January 2018.
The 4 Facebook Algorithm Factors
The goal of Facebook’s algorithm is to “show stories that matter to users,” according to Adam Mosseri, VP of Facebook’s News Feed Management. With that in mind, you should know how Facebook’s different algorithm factors work together to determine which stories “matter” to a user.
Here are the four organic factors that determine if a story is relevant for a user’s News Feed.
Inventory represents the stock of all content that can display to a user on Facebook’s News Feed.
This includes everything posted from friends and publishers.
Signals represent the information that Facebook can gather about a piece of content.
Signals are the single factor that advertisers have control over. These are your inputs that Facebook interprets; type of content, the publisher, its age, purpose, and more.
You want your content to signal to Facebook that it’s meaningful and relevant to your target audience.
Predictions represent the behavior of a user and how likely they are predicted to have a positive interaction with a content piece.
Score is the final number assigned to a piece of content based on the likelihood the user will respond positively to it.
Meaningful Interactions Are Valued Most
As advertisers, the only part of the process that we have control over are the signals of our content.
These signals can be divided into two categories: passive and active.
Passive signals include view time, story type, time posted, and other metrics non-active metrics.
Active signals include likes, shares, comments, and other active events that prompt engagement.
You should tailor your content to promote positive engagement, or what Facebook has defined as “meaningful interactions.”
Active signals drive meaningful interactions:
Updates to Facebook Video Ranking
One of the newest updates to Facebook’s new algorithm is its updates for video rankings. While factors such as loyalty and intent, video and viewing durations, and originality have always been prized, Facebook is now placing an increased emphasis on these three items.
What’s this mean for video creators? Let’s take a look.
- Loyalty and intent: Now, more than ever, Facebook is placing an increased value on repeat reviewers. If you can keep your viewership coming back, it’s safe to say that you’ll see an increase in your video rankings.
- Video and viewing durations: Facebook values user attention which means videos with longer viewing durations will see a bump in ranking. Videos must be at least one minute long, although Facebook recommends using video that is at least three minutes long.
- Originality: Facebook’s emphasis on unique content carries on. Repurposed or shared content will be penalized while original content will receive a ranking boost.
The new Facebook algorithm is also better than ever at recognizing biased content. In an effort to curb misleading health claims, as well as falsely advertised medical products, they’ve made the algorithm even better at detecting spammy or clickbait titles.
Pages that share content Facebook labels clickbait will find themselves penalized within the algorithm, resulting in reduced distribution within the Newsfeed. However, once the offending content stops posting this kind of content, their posts will no longer be penalized.
Facebook Page Impressions Calculation
On October 17th, Facebook updated its timeframe to filter repeated page impressions, resulting in a more accurate depiction of organic Facebook stats. Matt Navarra shows some of the changes below:
If you’ve noticed a decline in your stats, don’t panic just yet, however. It doesn’t mean that your entire Facebook strategy is broken.
It means that marketers should focus on the fact that they now have a more accurate benchmark from which to compare ad performance and prepare to boost organic impressions accordingly.
5 Best Practices That Can Make Your Content More Meaningful
Here are some guidelines for keeping your content meaningful in Facebook’s eyes, based on Matt Navara and Paul Armstrong’s coverage of Facebook’s News Feed webinar.
1. Be a conversation starter
You want your content to start conversations and positive interactions between your followers and others.
Don’t just focus on consumption — your content should prompt people to stop, interact, and share with one another.
Sephora, which consistently ranks #1 in L2’s Digital IQ Index — always strikes a balance between advertising and conversation-starting with well-crafted organic and sponsored content.
2. Focus on your audience
Your content should always be relevant to your core audience — the people you want to build a community around.
Products, education, lifestyle imagery — it should all build on your identity as a brand answering to a specific audience.
3. Put ad dollars behind content with organic momentum
The new Facebook algorithm values content that performs well organically.
Content that already has strong organic traction means lower CPCs — which combined with ad dollars can act as a snowball effect for your content.
Conversely, don’t waste ad dollars behind poor-performing organic content. It will have higher CPCs and cost you more while offering less in return.
If a post is performing well with engagement, likes, and shares — then there’s an opportunity to place additional ad dollars behind to drive that performance even further.
4. Avoid clickbait
Remember all of those “like if…” and “share if you are…” posts?
This is considered engagement baiting, it doesn’t add value or interaction for users.
Stay away from asking people to “please comment, like, and share.” Your content should inspire them to engage without having to ask.
What values or issues is your brand building conversation around?
5. Track your content performance
After you’ve published your content, remember to use Facebook Insights to track the performance of your content.
Keep track of how your different content pieces are performing engagement-wise.
Learn from your Insights data and then optimize from there.
Why Should Advertisers Care?
Advertisers looking to become more effective in their content strategy, both paid and organic, stand to benefit from a basic understanding of the algorithm.
If you’re aiming to reach Facebook’s 2.2 billion + active users, you are up against some steep competition content-wise (Zephoria):
- 4.75 billion pieces of content shares – daily
- 300+ million photo uploads – daily
- 510,000 comments – every 60 seconds
- 293,000 statuses – every 60 seconds
If you want to improve your social performance and grow your community, you don’t want your content drowned out by the other 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook daily.
The Final Takeaway
The new Facebook algorithm is sophisticated, and no amount of information is going to help you hack it.
The information we do know, however, is just enough for advertisers to build a better content strategy and improve visibility on the News Feed.
Keep your content meaningful by being a conversation starter, an advocate for your audience, and boosting your best-performing organic content.
Want to learn more about driving performance with Facebook advertising?