Can you remember the time before social media? I can't. Since its creation in a Harvard dorm room way back in the early 2000s, Facebook has changed the way we interact with one another, in particular, the way brands communicate with consumers.
As social networking services evolved, so has the marketing strategies of companies. And with a fifth of the world (that’s about 1.3 billion people) logging onto Facebook at least once a month, it’s easy to see why.
Since its conception, Facebook has continuously updated its visual look, the options available and its algorithms, sometimes to the dismay of its users.
With constant changes it can sometimes be difficult for a brand to stay up to date with the best way of angling a story or campaign. Facebook posts only reach a small percentage of fans. That is down to Facebook’s ever changing algorithm.
Previously known as EdgeRank, the changes to the algorithm keep companies guessing on how the latest modification will affect the promotion of their products and services.
What are the Core Components of the Facebook Algorithm?
The core components of the algorithm, which calculates the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories users see, haven't changed...much. The three integral mechanisms are:
By looking at explicit actions, Facebook calculates affinity score based on how frequently two users interact.
For example: Two users who have a large number of mutual friends and post on each other’s walls often, will have a higher affinity score compared to two users who have few mutual friends and interact rarely. The affinity score calculation is based on explicit actions taken by users, factoring in three different variables:
The strength of the action
The closeness of the relationship with the person who took the action
The time elapsed since the action was taken
Edges are actions that Facebook users take, which the Facebook team attributes different weights to. For example: A comment is worth more points than a like. Therefore, they are likely to be more stories in your news feed about your friends commenting on posts, rather than liking them.
This refers to when a story was posted. As a post gets older, it loses points and is less likely to appear on your news feed.
The Latest Algorithm Update
Despite the main ‘rules’ staying essentially the same, Facebook has tweaked and added various additional guidelines.
In September of this year, Facebook made another edit to its algorithm, centred on timing. It is speculated that the most recent algorithm change may have arisen as a result of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. As Twitter was dominated by tweets about the protests in Ferguson, Facebook was inundated with videos of celebrities completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Despite Facebook attempting to be a one stop shop for information, critics believe that Twitter is still the "hard news king" destination, where users will find information and updates on breaking news.
As Twitter delivers tweets of the people users follow in real-time, with no filtering, Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Library and Information Science, Zeynep Tufekci, said,
"But I wonder: what if Ferguson had started to bubble, but there was no Twitter to catch on nationally? Would it ever make it through the algorithmic filtering on Facebook? Maybe, but with no transparency to the decisions, I cannot be sure."
Would it ever make it through the algorithmic filtering on Facebook? - Zeynep Tufekci
This latest Facebook change based on timing will add more weight to posts that correlate to trending topics on the site. Those topics will appear higher in the News Feed and when the topic has stopped trending, will shift lower or disappear altogether.
Our Tips to Improve Organic Post Reach
For brands reaching out to consumers, the algorithm updates are hard to predict and respond to, so follow our tips to improve your organic post reach:
Optimise the times you post
Use different reporting tools to see when your audience is most active and when competitors aren’t. Post during those peak times to receive greater fan engagement.
Add a Call to Action
Write copy that explicitly asks for fans to like, share or comment on content.
Use More Visual Tools to Create Content
Social users aren't going to visit your Facebook page to read content. They are relying on seeing it in their News Feed, so use videos, infographics and pictures to grab attention quickly.
Be a Human, Not Just a Brand
Make sure to interact with fans of your page when they comment on a post or give feedback on a service.