The Facebook algorithm contains many factors which determine which of your posts are seen by your fans. If you want to know how to reach people on Facebook, then it’s important to understand how the algorithm works.
“The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. Ideally, we want News Feed to show all the posts people want to see in the order they want to read them.
This is no small technical feat: every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,5001 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see, and most people don’t have enough time to see them all. These stories include everything from wedding photos posted by a best friend, to an acquaintance checking in to a restaurant.
With so many stories, there is a good chance people would miss something they wanted to see if we displayed a continuous, unranked stream of information. Our ranking isn’t perfect, but in our tests, when we stop ranking and instead show posts in chronological order, the number of stories people read and the likes and comments they make decrease.”
Whilst Facebook has not made all the factors in the algorithm transparent, here are ones we do know about, and how they work.
When a post receives high engagement (i.e. liking, commenting, sharing etc), Facebook will serve this up on more news feeds, because it’s an indication a lot of people were interested in the post, thus other people are likely to be interested in at as well.
It’s important to understand when your audience is online, and publish your posts at times when most of your fans are available to engage with it. You can review the Facebook insights dashboard to determine what days and what times of the day your fans are most on Facebook.
Facebook’s old Edgerank system had a factor called ‘Time Decay’. This meant the older a post got, the less likely it would appear on news feeds. However, the new Story Bumping factor means if a lot of people engaged with your post (affinity), Facebook may bump it back up the news feed to users who may not have been online at the time you posted it.
Facebook has a hierarchy as to the types of posts it will serve up more than others. There’s no official statement from Facebook as to which order they rank images, links, videos, plain text status updates etc, but images and quotes always seem to perform well.
Links in my experience receive less reach, and my school of thought is it’s because they take the user out of the Facebook platform. However, the more you optimise your links with what you write in the status update to encourage engagement, the more reach they will get.
Facebook also weights its new page features high, and it’s also currently reported the sharing of Instagram posts on Facebook (‘regramming’) are being weighted high, as Facebook owns Instagram.
Facebook will take into account the last 50 engagements of a user, giving more weight to posts from pages the user has recently interacted with. Last Actor has made the algorithm more sophisticated enabling you to get more reach on your posts, versus just relying on affinity, weight and time decay as it used to with the old ‘Edgerank’ system.
Facebook also considers the quality of the post type, to ensure users have a quality experience on their news feeds. Memes are considered to be low quality posts, but I still see many of them doing well on Facebook. Gumpy cats anyone?
Facebook will also share content less that receives negative feedback, such as posts that users hide from their news feed. You can review posts that received negative feedback in your insights dashboard.