The New Facebook Algorithm: 7 Tips To Stay Relevant

On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced a call for “more meaningful social interactions,” and social marketers everywhere looked up from their busy day's work. With the shift in focus from recency to relevance, the News Feed algorithm now attempts to prioritize family, friends, and groups over brands—unless they are able to offer users opportunities for genuine conversation and engagement. Brands and marketers wondered: What will this change for us and how can we keep up?

Though we explained the Spredfast point of view on managing the changes that same week, we wanted to revisit the topic now that marketers everywhere have had a moment (read: a couple months) to exist in this new paradigm. What we found should give your brand a lot of hope. Here are three tips to excel within the latest iteration of the algorithm:

1. Ask yourself how you can truly be relevant

At its core, the new algorithm works to prioritize and arrange posts that you will be most likely to interact with—the posts you, personally, would find most relevant. Zuckerberg’s underlying goal with this update is to ensure that time spent on Facebook is truly valuable to its users. What do we value? Genuine personal connections, which he argues are built through active interactions, rather than passive ones. Users are more likely to comment and react to a post with a familiar face rather than a brand’s post. But that doesn’t mean your brand has to go unheard all together: this new focus on fostering stronger person-to-person interaction challenges brands and marketers to create more story-driven and conversation-worthy content.

2. Make sure you know your audience’s desires, not just their current conversations

Relevance transcends what’s topical, especially in the age of meaningful interactions. Redirecting your content strategy from “what are people already talking about?” to “what do people want to talk about?” can launch your brand to the top of users' News Feeds. To predict what your audience will want to talk about you have to see what’s already been said. With Spredfast Intelligence, you can in real time measure what’s been said and by who. By defining your who and what you are able to gain an accurate read on what will be relevant to your preferred audience.

Redirect your content strategy from "what are people talking about" to "what do people want to talk about?" to launch your brand to the top of News Feeds.

 

3. Prioritize engagements by their power

Every interaction on Facebook matters, but some more than others. For the most part, the actions users take on Facebook are entirely passive, i.e., hovering, watching a video for no longer than the default 6-second view, and not clicking through. Active engagement, on the other hand, is what all marketers aim for: reacting, commenting, and sharing. Here’s a quick breakdown of which interactions should matter most to you and why:

Comments

Comments lie at the top of this social interaction food chain, as they are the essence of creating conversation online. A word of warning, though: It’s important as a brand to shy away from “engagement bait,” the act of asking for engagement versus gaining those engagements organically. An example of engagement bait might be, “Comment if you LOVE pizza!” goading social interactions within the new algorithm will be read as spam and can result in Facebook dropping your post down on the News Feed.

Shares

Sharing is the next best form of engagement. Whether it is a link sent in Messenger or a post shared to a page, Facebook is measuring your private and public shares. Posts with a high mix of shares and comments will rise to the top. (Also see our blog post highlighting the NFL’s efforts in expanding shares for more strategic tips.)

Reactions

Reactions are the most basic form of engagement, but they are still worthy of measure. For the people not likely to comment and share, reacting is their best bet. So while not the most robust engagement action on Facebook, reactions still add to your relevance score— a metric employed by Facebook to see the positive and negative feedback on your ads.

Figuring out who you’re speaking to is key in gaining positive engagements online, these recent stats can help shape your marketing strategy and assist you as you navigate Facebook’s updated algorithm.

Four more ways to keep your brand at the top of the News Feed

Create conversation-worthy content

It’s important to remember to speak with and not at your audience. Give users opportunities to interact with your posts as well as creating content that they can relate to because if users are relating to your content they’re more likely to speak about it, or to it.

On Facebook, it’s important to remember to speak with, and not at, your audience. — @jaimenetzer

 

Incorporate more video into your content strategy

Facebook prioritizes video content, as video content tends to drive more interaction and overall audience engagement. Pro-tip: Live videos create stronger engagements. Facebook Live videos get nearly four times the comments of any other post. Read more in our most recent Smart Social Report on how to best benchmark your Facebook engagements.


Speak to the people already speaking to you

Audiences that are already interested and interacting with your brand create an online loyalty and can trickle through the top of their related friends’ profiles, especially if they are regularly engaging with your brand’s content. Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed, has said that interactions around content in Facebook Groups are powerful. So, look to Groups when thinking of where to place content.

Aim for evergreen content

Evergreen content is content that stays relevant, doesn’t have an expiration date and doesn’t decay. Employing messaging that can transcend time could help build your brand’s unique voice online and generate consistent conversations.

Overall, Facebook’s recent change to foster more meaningful interactions online might redirect your content strategy—but then again, if you’ve already been following some of the best content marketing advice out there, it might not. The bottom line remains that good content that is tuned into the needs and challenges of your audience is going to win. That shouldn’t be a disruption to your current social media content strategy. In fact, some Spredfast customers have found that they’ve seen similar engagement even with less overall impression volume in the wake of the algorithm change.

The changes do require brands—and/or the agencies they partner with—to be nimble: no one can afford to let complacency get in the way of remaining agile to the networks’ regular updates. The changes also mean that it’s no longer tenable for paid to live its in silo; instead, paid and organic social must be in lock-step to keep up. Marketers need to push for more authentic and conversation-worthy content, keeping their brand relevant for their chosen audience, and therefore at the top of user’s News Feeds. It’s time for marketers to find their brands’ place between and among friends and family.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.