Facebook has its largest user base in India, with around 270 million active users (Statista). And, it’s considered the primary platform, used by marketers, to reach consumers, possibly due to ease of use and familiarity with the interface. Facebook, stories are widely popular and have captured the attention of more than 300 million users per day.
On social media, trends come and go, faster than you can say “let’s come up with a campaign for that”. In fact, sometimes they’re over so quickly that a 24-hour window is enough for them to rise and fall. Trend-jacking, or “moment marketing” as creators like to call it, is becoming increasingly challenging.
A brand has to be on a constant lookout to find conversations that have ‘viral’ potential. Marketers have to create, quality check, publish and amplify each piece of content, as soon as possible, to capitalise the trend. A deep understanding of the platform algorithm is crucial to support the creative input invested in making a piece of content.
Just like the internet and its userbase, Facebook has also evolved as a platform over the years. In 2018, Facebook summarised its strategic focus with a simple phrase: “meaningful interactions will be prioritized”.
What does the algorithm categorise as ‘meaningful’?
- Commenting or liking a person’s photo or status update
- Average time spent on content
- Completeness of the user’s profile page
- Sharing links over Messenger
- Engagement with a brand post shared by a friend
- Multiple replies to people’s comments on a video
- How informative the post is
In a Nutshell: Authenticity is Central to the Growth Story
The platform algorithm is focused on finding genuine conversations and rewarding them with more visibility. Meanwhile, also hiding conversations that are self- promotional (i.e. they have a call-to-action stated or implied in the content), fake or irrelevant. Consider the changing use-case of the following metrics:
Organic reach: It has been a while since the phrase ‘Organic reach is on an all-time low’ has been a go-to sentence. However, with viral content sprouting every day, organic reach remains a content creator’s conceptual holy grail. Aim to get everything exactly right, and compelling organic returns remain possible, albeit not always, but a sure possibility.
Authenticating users: Facebook rewards content from users with detailed, credible profiles. The algorithm seeks to encourage engaged, active communities, but it’s also because fake accounts are frequently characterised by poor attention to profile detail.
Click Bait: Often online publishing houses, media channels, and many brands overuse clickbait to drive traffic from social media to other channels. This practice is not ranked well by the algorithm because it takes the traffic away from the native platform.
Native content creation is rewarded and an 80% native content to 20% external content split is ideal. As soon as externally linked content levels push past 20%, the algorithm is likely to penalise you. Over time, the reach and visibility of this content drop and it stops appearing in feeds. So the next time you see that a link in your Facebook posts perform well, remember to consider this correlation!
Native content, influencers, and communities: Understanding the Facebook business use-case helps demystify the algorithm intention. Facebook wants to retain as many users for as long as possible. As a result, it rewards users who add to the platform with authentic stories.
A video/image upload on the platform gets more views and reach than a link to the same media on a different platform, like YouTube. Also, a community where users are actively engaging with each other helps your content get more reach and visibility. Simply put, influencers are getting more influential because social media algorithms actively recognise the power of their communities.
The content an algorithm shows you can be personalised: Once you understand how an algorithm works, you can personalise the content you see. You do this by only clicking on content that genuinely interests you, and engaging authentically in personally or professionally meaningful conversations.
If you set the tone, the algorithm will follow. Posts are initially only served to a small percentage of users within a network, and the algorithm watches their reactions carefully. Vigorous engagement is rewarded, but if users don’t engage – the content gets a low score and easily disappears from view.
Dot your Is and cross your Ts
- Content that stimulates conversations within personal networks is prioritized.
- Links shared over messenger are also prioritized by the algorithm, as this activity is a clear marker of strong engagement.
- Long comments rank better than short comments because length indicates strong engagement.
- Clickbait is punished, as are all obvious forms of self-promotion, especially those explicitly asking users to like, share or comment.
- Live video is rewarded because it reliably delivers great user engagement.
- When a user likes a page they are effectively asking the algorithm to treat the content provider as a ‘See first’ entity. Updates from this brand won’t be subjected to the same rules as general content, because the user has actively asked to see the content.
Knowing the medium is knowing the ecosystem. The last bit of advice is to keep a lookout for everything new Facebook launches if it is new – the algorithm will be pushing it forward. To know more about how to Understand the ecosystem read this e-book!