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Getting PR Traction with Facebook Distribution of Press Releases

Facebook Algorithm Change – Now What for Brands?

Hannah Williams

Jan 23, 2018

Those who use Facebook for brand communications may have noticed a decrease in organic reach over the last few years. Many marketing professionals feel like they’ve been working hard to create content favoured by the Facebook algorithm, only to receive a huge kick in the face by the most recent algorithm tweak.


About the Facebook Algorithm Change

In January 2018, Zuckerberg announced that it’ll be harder than ever for brand content to be seen by Facebook audiences. Posts by friends and family are being prioritised. With so many brands and publishers “spraying and praying” their message, it’s hardly surprising that Facebook is trying to remove irrelevant content for its users.

Similar to growth hacking on Google, many companies try to cheat the Facebook algorithm – for example, we’ve seen an increase in images disguised as video. This is because video is prioritised over images in the Facebook newsfeed. Until recently, some cheating tactics have slid through the net and worked. 

For example:

facebook algorithm gif

In the above image, it is clear someone is attempting to cheat the algorithm.

Why are companies going so out of their way to fight the Facebook algorithm changes, you may be thinking? Well to put things into perspective, research from Social@Ogilvy found that for Facebook business pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%. If we have only a 2% chance of reaching people who have chosen to hear from us, just imagine how low organic reach is for those who haven’t!

We must admit, this change is pretty alarming, but we’re not doomed. Creating high-quality content is still likely to reach our audience and ride the algorithm wave. Here are our top tips for creating engaging Facebook content.

Encourage Engagement… but don’t engagement bait

Back in December 2017, Facebook announced they’d be cracking down on so-called ‘engagement bait’. This is where users attempt to exploit the Facebook algorithm by asking viewers to like and share posts. See below for the kind of posts we’re talking about!

facebook newsfeed images on iphone

Engagement bait posts will be de-prioritised by the newsfeed since the Facebook algorithm update. According to Facebook, their machine learning technology will review posts to detect engagement baiting. Brands that publish genuinely interesting content that receives a lot of engagement will not be affected.

The key is to understand our industry, audience and trends that occur within it. Only then can then create content that will be most appealing to our target market.

How? Find out as much to know about your target market and industry. We can use media monitoring to look at trending themes around our industry to discover hot topics. In addition, look at what kind of content is creating engagement for your competitors. Finally, survey the audience you have and find out what they’d like to hear more about.

Facebook Algorithm Change for Facebook Ads

Blending owned with paid for media, by using Facebook ads to promote our content and increase engagement, is one way to get over the Facebook algorithm issue. It’s true that we’re entering a “pay to play” realm, but there’s no use crying over spilt milk.

Fortunately, Facebook ads are pretty attractive to marketers due to their advanced targeting capabilities! Facebook ads offer users the ability to really drill down into target demographics, for example, job titles, interests, likes, age etc.

To get started with Facebook ads, first decide what your objectives are. Below is a screenshot of the objectives Facebook offer. You’ll notice there’s quite a few, Facebook has been really focusing on its “paid for” function… I wonder why? 

facebook ads dashboard

Next, define who you wish to target. We can use our audience or buyer personas to decide exactly what demographics and interests we want to target.  Find out more about persona mapping here.

facebook targeting options for facebook ads

After this, set budgets and create the advert. We can use an existing post or create a new advert. There are loads of different types of Facebook ads, so we can get creative!

To help structure your thoughts initially, we’d suggest using Google Analytics to analyse the type of content that’s bringing in the most amount of traffic to your website. You can also look at what is driving engagement on your social media channels.  

facebook ad types

For a full guide to getting started with Facebook ads, check out Facebook’s business page. They have case studies, inspiration, and in-depth guides to each feature. If you’re interested in a high-level overview of 

Utilise other social networks

We’re not saying give up with Facebook, but unless Facebook is where the majority of our brand’s audience is, it may be worth focusing our efforts elsewhere, particularly if we’re limited on time and resources. Use a social listening tool to understand conversation split by channel.

Our most recent webinar with Marie Ennis-O’Connor taught us how to find, grow and nurture our social communities.

meltwater webinar on 10 keys to finding, growing and nurturing your social community

Give video a go

According to AdWeek, Facebook video gets triple the engagement and 1,200% more shares compared to text and image posts. In addition to this, video is currently the highest ranked kind of content within the Facebook algorithm.

For success with video try the following things:

  • Ensure video can be enjoyed without rather sound – many users watch video on mute
  • Post the video directly to Facebook, rather than linking them to Vimeo or YouTube
  • Live stream Q&A’s, behind the scenes videos, events and walkthroughs of new products

This article by vidyard, ‘10 ways small businesses should be using video’ is full of inspiration to get you started! Remember, Facebook Live video doesn’t have to be shot on the highest quality camera with sound mics left, right and centre. The whole appeal of going live is that it’s raw footage, adding to the authenticity of a brand.

Measure and optimise

We can’t improve our strategy and aim for higher engagement if we don’t currently know how well (or not well…) we’re doing. Blend data found through a social listening tool with data found through an engagement tool such as Meltwater Engage. Aim to report back on negative or positive movements monthly.

Likealyzer is a great resource for businesses looking to improve their organic reach on Facebook using data to support their strategy. This free online tool, offers recommendations as well as metric analysis. Give it a go by popping your brands Facebook business page URL in the box to uncover your key insights!

facebook ads and likealyzer

Here’s what Likealyzer has to say about Coca Cola’spage.

likealyzer coca cola


Hopefully, the above tips will provide you with some ways of continuing to reach your target audience, despite the latest Facebook algorithm change.

Staying up to date with the latest social media updates and changes to platforms must become part of our daily role. The writing was on the wall for quite some time when it comes to this update. Those who followed key industry updates would have noticed this prior and felt less of the effects because of this.

We’ll be posting key news on big social media updates on our blog to ensure our subscribers stay relevant in the changing social media landscape. Subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out!

Tip: Check out 5 Ways PR Pros Can Take Advantage of the Facebook Algorithm Change