Combating the Ever-Changing Algorithm
by Ali Cornforth
Changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which determines the viewership of status updates on the site, may be reducing the reach of business content. For an average business post on Facebook, an estimated 16% of fans will see the post appear on their News Feeds. At first this number appears low, but it may not be significant when compared with the average viewership of a business email newsletter of 20% of the total customer base. Considering that Facebook is among the top social media sources for gathering an audience, should businesses/brands be concerned with this low reach?
Although these changes have prompted businesses to question the importance of gathering a fan base, it is important to understand why these posts may not be seen, aside from blaming the EdgeRank algorithm. All those efforts to get users to click that little “Like” button seems like a waste, if only 16% of them actually see what you post. But let’s put this in perspective: the statistics are out there that an average Facebook user is online 30 minutes per day. Yes, indeed, Facebook’s over 800 million users are only on for a half-hour per day. This may seem like a long time until you compare it to the average lifespan of a post: 2.5 hours. Considering the overwhelming number of users and the constant stream of personal user posts and brand updates, this lifespan makes sense, yet this also means there is the high probability that a very limited number of fans will see a post by one of many business pages they like. The result is that seemingly low 16% average number of fans reached.
Facebook uses their EdgeRank algorithm to “optimize News Feeds to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring that they see the most interesting stories”. The likely conclusion is: if Facebook’s algorithm decides your business posts aren’t interesting, they won’t show up much or at all in fan News Feeds. And when they do show up, it may only be due to the rare occasion that a business posted while their fans were online (any part of that half-hour throughout the day).
So how do you combat these changes as a business/brand page administrator?
1. Make your posts newsworthy
Find alluring material to post that you think your fans will enjoy and interact with. Find out what their interests are. Engagement (clicks, likes, comments, shares, etc.) plays a significant role in the EdgeRank algorithm – if your fans engage with your material regularly, Facebook will think your material is relevant and will be more likely to include it in your fans’ News Feeds; therefore, extending the lifespan of your posts.
Remember 4 tips:
- Be human – people go to Facebook to interact
- Keep statuses short and sweet
- People like pictures and videos
- 80/20 principle = 80% related to common interests of fans, 20% related to brand/company
Also, make your posts their own “calls-to-action.” Example: Click “LIKE” if you have hunting traditions you follow every season. Example: Click “LIKE” if you love hunting or shooting at the range. It’s easy to ask fans to engage when you give them the instructions (and they won’t even know why you’re doing it!).
2. Check out your Insights page
Remember that handy page you can access called “Insights”? It clues you into all the analytics data you deserve as an administrator. Facebook does help you!
Use this free information to your advantage by seeing when (in a given period of time) and which of your posts received numerous Likes and/or comments. Insights will help you gauge the depth your fans’ engagement; determine what kinds of content to post according to the engagement; and most importantly, when to post. Timing is also a factor in the EdgeRank algorithm, according to how long a post “stays alive.” This depends on engagement. This is when your knowledge of which days and the times of day fans are most frequently online will optimize the probability that your post will be seen and engaged with. Yes, maybe generally only 16% of fans will see your updates now, but figure out what time of day most of your fans are online, and you could increase that percentage just by being clued into these facts and statistics. When you post at the right time, engagement tends to increase, and EdgeRank will consider your posts more important than others. The goal is to access the largest audience, so investigate Insights and be informed.
According to a study done by social media managing company, Vitrue, the three busiest times of the day on Facebook are weekdays at 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 8:00 pm ET, with the most common time at 3:00 pm, particularly on Wednesdays. Sundays tend to be the slowest days. This information is helpful for determining when to create posts, but identifying the frequencies of your fans’ online half-hours is equally as important.
3. Consider promoting your posts
Facebook now offers business pages the option of “selling” their posts. Advertisement made easy with a couple simple clicks. Facebook is openly acknowledging that “only 5% of people who like your page are going to see your updates so if you want to get the other 95%, you will have to pay” (https://bit.ly/PvRw1w). There are many objections to this option for business marketing, but there are clear advantages, too. Do your concerns look something like this?
- I don’t have the budget.
- I shouldn’t have to pay to reach all my fans.
- I already reach a high percentage of my fans, so I don’t need it.
- I don’t need it to reach my goals.
- It doesn’t work.
Think again. Check out this straightforward article that counters these specific arguments: https://bit.ly/OqlleZ.
The bottom line is to engage with Facebook in order to receive engagement. Give fans a reason to “like” or share your posts, and be sure they do it often.
For more information on EdgeRank and what factors determine your reach, check out:
Interested in what Facebook says? Check out their recent blogs: