Sample image

The New Facebook Algorithm Change: Dos and Don’ts for Marketers

Written by Brad McElroy

Facebook’s newest hobby seems to be rolling out algorithm changes, and, surprisingly, digital marketers are fine with it. Although there’s a bit of a learning curve with every update, the changes are generally helpful to our efforts. Before you panic about Facebook’s latest algorithm changes, let us show you how your strategy can still benefit from these adjustments. We even have a few Facebook marketing dos and don’ts sprinkled in to help you make the most of the latest update.

Reach: The Organic Fall of Organic

Rome may have collapsed a little quicker than organic reach, but not by much. With so many competitors on Facebook, this fall is only natural. So how are you going to use this information to grow your marketing reach?

Two words: paid reach. Yes, it’s true that Facebook ad prices have increased, but a few dollars of ad spend can go a long way. Couple that with Instagram ads and Facebook messenger ads seeing more preference, and there’s a clear shift from organic campaigns to paid. Can you really put a price on a more predictable ad spend?

Meaningful Interactions

Although this happened in 2018, it appears that Facebook is still striving to inspire connections among friends and family, sparking “meaningful interactions between people.”  Even though Facebook has yet to clearly define a “meaningful interaction,” comments and reshares appear to be a huge indicator of that value. Just be sure not to chase controversial topics to generate engagement. Thankfully, those controversial, misleading, and sensational posts will now be demoted by Facebook’s AI.

Recalculating Organic Impressions

That’s right, organic is being recalculated. Again. Is this bad for organic? Probably. Basically, these Facebook marketing changes are aligning organic page impressions with the way paid ads are calculated. So, if you’ve seen your ad strategy really take off with the latest Facebook changes, maybe test it on your organic pages. It is still a bit too early to tell exactly how to capitalize on this.

Loyal Video Views?

Facebook videos want to be king. Unlike Jon Snow. (Is it too late for Game of Thrones references?)

Videos that are sought after and watched over and over again are given priority over ones that aren’t, but they each need to be at least one minute long to trigger this algorithm. And in the future, three-minute videos will skew even more in line with the algorithm, giving your longer content a better chance at views.

And the new Facebook algorithm also has an issue with reposts. Reddit users aren’t the only ones who complain about it. It turns out that repurposed content is going to be demoted by Facebook as well. The intent is to make sure that unique, original content is making it into the news feeds of its users. This should be welcomed by all because it means that users will be encouraged to spend more time on Facebook and, consequently, be more likely to see the ad that you put some dollars toward.

Making It Personal

“We want to hear your feedback! Just take this quick survey.”

But actually, Facebook is making an effort to really listen to its users. The surveys are built to receive feedback so they know how interested users are in seeing specific pieces of content or hearing from specific groups they’ve joined. The machine learning functions in the background with this information, predicting other content and pages the user will want to see.

Comments are another area that received some algorithm TLC, albeit a little earlier in the year. Over the summer, Facebook rolled out updates in the comment section to show the most engaged comments and comments from the original poster first. This compounds on the predictive capabilities of the algorithm’s already sophisticated tech.

Spam

No one’s going to be cookin’ with spam in the new decade. Except for maybe Hawaii. Still, reducing clickbait, engagement bait, and link outs to poor website experiences are all part of this new update. We look forward to the end of headlines that say things like “This one weird trick!” and “#4 will shock you!”. Unfortunately, this also means the demotion of some real giveaways; encouraging people to share a post or tag a friend can be seen as engagement bait. This doesn’t mean you have to completely stop doing giveaways on Facebook, just that you need to carefully consider how you’re phrasing the copy to maximize participation. (FYI, it’s basically best practice now to move that giveaway to Instagram, since they won’t demote your content.)

No More Miracle Cures

Greatly exaggerated health claims are another type of post that the algorithm is recognizing and demoting. This includes “miracle cures” and products advertised as such. No more essential oils for your compound fracture. There’s not enough lavender extract in the world to help you with that. Go see a doctor.

Brand to Placement Control

Every brand should care about where their advertisements appear. After all, if you’re not hitting the correct audience, then those are wasted dollars spiraling down the advertisement drain. We may be a few years removed from when ads were shown on YouTube videos that contained hate speech and violence, but advertisers are still concerned about having some control over where their digital ads appear — and for good reason. Luckily, this latest update has a feature rolling out to select advertisers that would allow you to create “white lists” and blocklists, helping you show up in placements that may benefit you most.

A/B Testing Made Easy

Google has a responsive ad feature that most marketers love — including us. Adding a machine-learning algorithm to your advertising dollars is a huge boost to see how you can best market brands to your customers — and it turns out that Facebook wants in on the action. They’re rolling out their own “Multiple Text Optimization,” which would make it way easier for you to A/B test your headlines, copy, and product descriptions. And if you’re not testing your ads to see what sticks, are you really even in marketing?

Dynamic Ad Creation

This is just a fancy way of saying that machine learning is making its way to Facebook. Which is another fancy way of saying that if you share information about your audience, Facebook will let the algorithm do all the heavy lifting to target the most receptive users to your ad. For instance, have you seen a close conversion split between carousels and collections when it comes to your target audience? Facebook will be able to see what your users engage with the most, and then dynamically display that ad to them in the form they prefer. Another good thing is that you don’t even have to enable this update. It’ll automatically roll out for you. 

So, What Now?

That was a lot. Ready for more? Here are some more tips we’ve compiled to help you have a more productive advertising strategy.

The Six Emotions to Advertising

Advertising can hit on a lot of different feelings, but the Harvard Business Review identified the six emotions that appear most often in shared content. #ThanksHarvard

  • Admiration
  • Amazement
  • Astonishment
  • Curiosity
  • Interest
  • Uncertainty

Even though you can certainly include more emotions in your advertising (and you absolutely should), these six may give you the edge on shareable content.  

Engagement Bait

We thought this was worth bringing up again. Don’t ask users to take a specific action on your organic posts. For instance, “like if X,” “share if Y,” “love for Z,” etc., are all basically off limits. Instead, use that time and energy to create interesting content that’s worth sharing. Check the last link for how to do that.

Put a Quote on It

Believe it or not, quotes are engaging, highly shareable ways to get those “meaningful interactions” Facebook keeps talking about. On Twitter, quotes see a 19% increase in retweets.

When it comes to video, entice the potential viewer with a gripping quote from the video. Got an article you want to share? Find a quote. If someone likes what they read so far, they’re more likely to click through.

Caption Your Videos

Do phones even come with sound turned on anymore?

It’s common knowledge that most people leave their sound off. In fact, 82% of Facebook users watch videos without it, which is probably why you see more accounts specify when sound needs to actually be turned on. Add captions to your video, and you’ll see an engagement increase. It also helps that videos are now prioritized by Facebook’s algorithm updates. Why not grab two people with one video? (Or, hopefully, a lot more than that.)

Got some more insights into Facebook’s new rules? We’d love to hear them. Want to give us a digital high-five? You can do that, too!

Ready to start your project?

Read More