Facebook – Engagement Algorithm – Changes

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As most social media users know the option to ‘Like’, or its equivalent, a post is a simple, quick, way to let someone know their post has been enjoyed and appreciated. In addition, liking a post usually results in further posts published by that person being displayed in a timeline and newsfeed. However, as any long term user of Facebook will know, the frequency with which these posts are shown has consistently changed as Facebook amends its algorithms. Many have been frustrated by the constant changes as they may no longer guarantee, without paying a fee, posts by relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintance will be shown. It is a disappointment to most that Facebook has tended to become far more income orientated than it used to be. Even when researching some of the following information, within the help pages, the system kept pointing to the advertisement feature even though advertising had not been mentioned in the search criteria.

It can be difficult to keep up with Facebook changes because they now seem to be so frequent. In January 2017 further updates where made to the algorithm that determines where posts will rank in an audiences newsfeed. The change affects three main areas: Video; Authenticity; Trending.

Video

The ability to add video within posts was added not so long ago. Not something the writer has utilised but it is apparent many have taken to it in a major way. Now, any video that has a greater completion rate will be rated more highly. The ‘completion rate’ is determined by length of time watched and percentage completed. With the abundance of video posts now appearing some, especially those short of time, may only watch the first section of a video and then move on. This naturally impacts upon the identified ‘completion rate’.

Authenticity

For most this will be the most important aspect.

If a post is identified as being less authentic it will be ranked lower in the algorithm than posts considered authentic.

What identifies a post as being less authentic?

There are principally two areas: Negative feedback and inappropriate content. For example:

Negative feedback: e.g. Pages being ‘Unliked’; Posts being hidden; All posts from a particular page being hidden.

Inappropriate content: e.g. Posts requesting likes; comments; shares.

Note: Even if the content of a post is otherwise authentic, with the new algorithm, asking for the above will more than likely result in it being identified as less authentic and consequently, not being added to a newsfeed or, if added, appearing far lower down.

Naturally, pornography, excessive violence and other such material are inappropriate under the normal terms and conditions.

The new algorithm will also identify if a page continually contains content that is identified as being less authentic.

What is considered authentic?

The following will improve a post’s ranking.

  • Good content that audiences are engaging with.
  • Multiple, positive, comments (unsolicited!).
  • Multiple ‘Likes’ (unsolicited!).
  • Frequent sharing (unsolicited!).
  • How recent: e.g. within the last few minutes, perhaps up to an hour. (Older posts will, by default, and logically, be ranked lower.)
  • Content is of immediate interest (see ‘Trending’ below.).
  • Relate to a topic a user has shown a particular and consistent interest in. (This relates more to the individual than the general audience.)

Trending

Posts will be given a higher ranking if they:

  • contain content that relates to something concurrently in the headlines or that is of general interest to users e.g. sport event; political activity; health issue; celebrity news; etc.; and/or
  • are receiving a lot of real-time comments and likes.

Note: This sort of popularity can change hour by hour and even moment by moment. Consequently, even if a post has received a lot of engagement it can quickly fall within the ranking system.

Conclusion

Over recent years Facebook has regularly amended its procedures, algorithms and systems. For the average user, it can be hard to keep track and pace.

The changes have, generally, resulted in less exposure for posts. There is no guarantee, without making a payment, as to whose newsfeed a post will be added to.

It has to be accepted Facebook has become more of a business and consequently has a tendency to increasingly focus upon income. In fairness, it is providing a communication/sharing service that many avail themselves of for free.

Users need to be far more aware of what they are posting. In principle they need to generate good content that people engage with and that will not result in a post being identified as ‘less authentic’.

Users must NOT try to ‘influence’ the system by asking for likes, comments and shares. The new algorithm will result in the post, and the user page, if it is consistent, being identified as ‘less authentic’ and consequently being ranked much lower compared to other posts. In effect this could mean it will rarely, or perhaps never, be seen.

Even, with the limitations imposed by the changes, Facebook remains a popular and useful social media site that two billion monthly users (as at June 2017) are happy to use. For those independent (indie) people seeking to gain attention to their products and who do not have the resources to pay for formal advertising, the new limitations can be frustrating. Nevertheless, there remains a vast audience, some of who they may be able to reach if they post quality and relevant content.

 


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