Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Change Hurts Pages…Again


Facebook has done it again…the company’s made a change to the Newsfeed Algorithm, and the results don’t look good for Pages. As a reminder, the Algorithm is the complex formula Facebook uses when it decides who among your Page’s followers will actually have a chance to see your content…and over the past couple of years, it’s been skewing against Page content more and more, to the extent that many Page owners have begun to despair.

But wait, there’s more! From Facebook’s actual blog post published yesterday:

We’ve also learned that people are worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there is a lot of content for them to see each day. The second update tries to ensure that content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it. If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed. This update tries to make the balance of content the right one for each individual person.

and

Lastly, many people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked.

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The Facebook Algorithm rendered by Beth in the form of Phred, the Content Concierge

The Facebook Algorithm rendered by Beth in the form of Phred, the Content Concierge

So what does this really mean? It’s really a bit early to say definitively…I’d prefer to wait for a few weeks and take a look at the data. But anecdotally — based on personal experience today, spending a few 15-minute blocks of time just scrolling thru my Newsfeed — it appears that page posts are in fact appearing in the Newsfeed less.

This doesn’t mean they weren’t there at all. In those 4 test scrolls I did this morning, I did see posts from pages that:

  1. Were posts that a page made and appeared in my newsfeed as usual with a note that all of those had significant amounts of engagement already happening
  2. Were posts that a page made and a friend then shared
  3. Were posts that a page made that contained a link and a friend had also posted the same link…in this instance i saw the link and then the multiple sources within my network that had posted that link
  4. And of course, a few promoted post ads

So now what? Well, if you’ve been following some of the basic best practices of engaging your community and building authentic relationships with that community, I suspect you may not see much of a change in your engagement levels. Again, I urge caution because, at the 24 hour mark, no one yet has enough data to say that definitively.

Meanwhile, what can you be doing to make your time on Facebook time well spent? I have a few suggestions

  • This change reinforces the holy grail of content engagement. If you’re posting content your audience engages with, your content will make it into the Newsfeeds of the people who consistently engage with you as it always has. Note: that threshold for how much engagement causes the algorithm to mark a piece of content as “good” may have bumped up a bit, only time and data will tell us for sure.
  • The holy grail of content engagement is – without a doubt – getting someone to SHARE. People liking and commenting on your content is still good, but the goal should be to create content people will SHARE. That means content that validates the social self and that people are comfortable being seen sharing.
  • Take the time to identify your Facebook champions, build relationships with them offline and find a way to encourage them to share your content regularly. For instance, you could obtain email addresses from your champions and send a weekly email to this vital subset of your Facebook audience with one or two posts from the week you’d like them to share. Or, offer training framed as “we’d like to help you use your social media to help us and other orgs you care about”. (Pro tip: never just send a share email, instead ask the recipients if they’d like to participate in a special “thing”– opt-in is still queen!) However you do it, the key is not to explicitly ask people to share right in the actual Facebook post…Facebook said months ago that explicit like/share asks will get dinged. So ask in an email instead!

Those are some quick thoughts on this latest change. At the end of the day, Facebook is all about creating a data-driven great experience for their end users…your community and all our Pages are just a part of their strategy for doing so.

I would like to end by repeating that 24 hours into the change is way too soon to start freaking out. Let’s all give it a month and then look at our data. For those interested in that follow-up, I will be leading a webinar for ActionSprout the first week of June (exact dates to be announced shortly) specifically to talk about Algorithm changes. So keep an eye out for information on that!

Ed note: for more on the Facebook Algorithm, see Beth’s past work on Epolitics.com and Kim Blomgren’s write-ups of her recent Facebook content strategy webinars.

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