9 Ways to Counteract Facebook’s Big Algorithm Change

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Facebook’s ranking algorithm decides which posts get shown to each user in their News Feed. The algorithm has gone through some major changes in the past, but the most recent one has thrown a lot of social media marketers for a loop.

An Adage article based on a sales deck sent to Facebook partners pointed out that Facebook has admitted organic reach for brands will slowly decline. According to Facebook, this is unavoidable due to the growth of the network and the amount of content being produced.

On an episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast with Michael Stelzner, Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith said that that there are around 1500 stories that could be shown to a Facebook user in their News Feed at any moment. As that number continues to grow, Facebook has the tough job of choosing what to show users—and of course, the algorithm needs to prioritize content that users will enjoy and engage with, so they spend more time on the site.

All of this means that for businesses, advertising is becoming the best way to get your stories to show up in the News Feed of your fans. There are some ways you can work with the change to continue building your audience. Here are ten to get you started.

1. Don’t give up on Facebook – reap the benefits of having a Page and keep it updated

Mari warned against abandoning your Facebook Page altogether, as she’s seen some people do already. Though it might feel like Facebook is working against you, there are lots of benefits to having a Page. Without a Page for your brand, you’ll lose opportunities to run contests, integrate Facebook apps and see detailed analytics of how people are interacting with your posts.

There are some simple ways you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your Page, simply by keeping it updated. There’s a great post on Social Media Examiner that has tips on this. Here are just a few it includes:

  • Take advantage of your cover image by adding a call-to-action
  • Keep your profile image up-to-date
  • Update your short description (below your cover image)
  • Make sure your location and all of your “about” fields are filled in correctly

2. Focus more time on community building — here are some great examples

Another suggestion from Mari was to put more time and money into community building. From her own experience, she said few brands answer questions and interact with users on Facebook, which is a missed opportunity to build a strong community. Fans of your brand will help you to spread the word just like ads do, and Mari insists it’s worth putting your time and energy into this method of brand-building.

Mari does a great job of this on her own Page, jumping in to answer questions and comments to keep fans engaged:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.14.50 pm

Another great example of this is the Social Media Examiner page:

sme facebook

3. Use your profile and groups for extra reach

If you’re planning on keeping your Page but exploring other ways to reach your fans, don’t forget about your own profile. You can turn on the “following” feature to let users follow the public posts on your profile and use this in conjunction with your Page. It’ll work like this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.58.24 AM

From the next page, you can then also choose who is allowed to follow you (of course “everyone” will give you the best reach) and you can then also embed the follow button straight from there on your website:

fb follow

The number of people following you will show up in your main “about” section, under your profile picture:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.25.11 pm

Profiles generally get preference in the News Feed over Pages, so this can help you reach more people.

You could also try using Facebook groups to actively reach your fans with new, regular content. Both Joel and Leo have this feature turned on for their own Facebook profiles, so we can reach even more people than those who have liked the Buffer Facebook page.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.25.28 pm

4. Keep experimenting with Facebook’s new features

Author and marketing consultant Jay Baer also appeared on the podcast episode I mentioned earlier. According to Jay, what not everyone has cottoned onto yet is Facebook’s latest golden child—Instagram. Since Facebook wants to push users towards Instagram as it continues to grow, there seems to be slight push for Instagram posts to be prioritized.

This will change when something new takes precedence, so continually experimenting with new features or integrations can help you to keep on top of what’s working best right now.

If you’re keen to get started with Instagram, this guide should help you out.

Facebook also keeps putting out tons of new features all the time, that are certainly worth checking out, to stay ahead of the game.

5. Build your own platform — a marketing channel that you own

Both Mari and Jay agreed that any company whose marketing eggs are all in Facebook’s basket is probably in trouble. Especially for those brands that can’t afford a big Facebook marketing budget.

One of the ways to spread your marketing to other platforms is to build up one that you own. Jay used a great acronym when he talked about this:

POEM. It stands for paid, owned, earned marketing.

Jay’s advice was that every brand should have some of each type of marketing: paid ads, a platform you own, and fans that you’ve earned on social networks.

altimeter-poe-chart

Your owned platform could be a blog, a company website, a podcast or something entirely different. Remember to choose something that suits your business. If you’re building up a blog as your platform, this post offers some simple hacks to help you increase your blog subscriber rate.

To get started with more tips on building a great platform, this might be a good place to start.

A quick last note from Jay, though:

Always remember: Earned media is the most important. Anything a brand or marketer says is immediately suspect, but trusted third parties are just that – trusted third parties.

6. Move to an email list — use your Facebook Page to encourage signups

If you’re not ready to build your own platform or you just want to try a new channel, you could move your main marketing efforts over to a mailing list.

Derek Halpern suggests using your Facebook Page to encourage sign ups and sharing content straight to your customers’ inboxes. He even offered up some copy you can use on your page:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.32.25 pm

 

For more tips on getting started with getting more email subscribers, you might like this guide.

7. Try building your audience on other networks as well

Lastly, you can actually take some of your eggs out of Facebook’s basket and drop them elsewhere. Jay mentioned that he thinks 2014 will see growth in Google+ company pages, as marketers look for alternatives to Facebook where they can achieve a bigger reach.

Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Snapchat may all see a surge of activity as marketers try to connect with their fans in new ways.

Here are some resources to help you start building a strong community on other platforms:

For Snapchat:

For Twitter:

For Pinterest: 

For LinkedIn:

 

8. Ask your followers to help — here’s how they can choose what they see in the News Feed

If your followers are disappointed to be missing your updates, you can help them adjust their News Feed settings. Setting the News Feed to show “most recent” posts rather than “top stories” will uncover more variety in the stories shown.

Facebook-Sorting-Mechanism-300x296

Facebook also has a friends organizer tool that makes it easy to move friends to an acquaintance list so their updates are seen less often in the News Feed—making room for your brand’s content instead.

It’s definitely a good idea to stay ahead of the game and keep up to date with all Facebook newsfeed changes.

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9. If you do advertise on Facebook, be clever about it

It’s pretty clear that Facebook expects brand to pay for reach, based on these changes. Although it can be frustrating to know that you now have to pay to reach as many users as you once could for free, you can be clever in the way you spend money on Facebook to get the most out of it.

One of the points Jay made was that it shouldn’t come as a shock that Facebook has made this move—after all, other social networks charge for advertising, and Google charges for keyword ads. As he put it, we’ve had it good for while now, being able to reach so many people on Facebook for free.

If you are going to advertise on Facebook, Jay has some suggestions for getting the most out of your efforts:

  • Try retargeting: serve up ads to users who have recently visited your website without making a purchase, since they’ve already shown interest.
  • Advertise content, rather than your company: ads that focus on content like eBooks, webinars or podcasts are more likely to receive engagement that company- or product-focused ads.
  • Use targeting aggressively: take advantage of Facebook’s demographic data to target your customers carefully, rather than wasting money on showing ads to users who probably aren’t interested in your product.
  • You can follow this guide, to get started with Facebook Ads.

Jay also mentioned on the podcast that not every brand has noticed a drop in reach, yet. In fact, many have actually seen the recent changes work in their favor, though nobody has really pinpointed why this is yet.

So don’t give up hope. Facebook has changed but it’s not useless—we just need to understand how to take advantage of the changes.

Do you have some other suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

If you liked this post, you might also like The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Ads and 10 Big, Recent Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Changes You Should Know for a Better Social Media strategy

Image credits: Alex E. Proimos, Jay Baer 1 and 2

  • http://www.mealime.com/ Jeffrey Bunn

    Very informative post, Belle! It really all comes down to building a community and gaining trust with your customers and fans. I’ve learned a lot about Facebook marketing from Amy Porterfield – she has a kickass blog.

    Thanks for posting :)

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    Terrific post. Many thanks for stitching it together, and that was one of the best podcasts I’ve done.

  • Thomas lesenechal

    Super post Bell, i think adding Dribbble to your other networks strategies could be awsome !
    thanks ;)

  • Victoria Moreno

    I have always maintained that liking each comment and talking to the fans is KEY to making a page work and making a community emerge. Happy that made your list. :-)

  • TheMikeBal

    A big thing you left out is Facebook’s intention on showing more ‘Newsworthy’ content in the newsfeed. While we had several clients see a drop over the past month or so, we had a couple content publishers who actually had their organic reach double.

    Take-Away- Start mizing in more timely content that would be considered ‘news’

  • Paul C Amatangelo

    Is it possible to set up a “Follow” button on a business page rather than you main profile page? BTW, thanks for the great post.

    • http://KoboldEnterprise.com/ Seth Drebitko

      Liking a page is the equivalent of following it.

  • http://twitter.com/jessnola Jessica Rohloff

    Great post! An additional benefit of keeping up your company’s Facebook page is that it provides another way for customers to communicate with you directly. I think sometimes it feels more personal than filling out a web form or calling a 1-800 number to ask a question.

    So I’ve learned that although Facebook may not be good for selling our products (we’re a B2B company), it *IS* a great way to provide amazing customer service. I’ve learned a lot about the people who use our products, and gotten some amazing testimonials from customers as a result of these Facebook conversations.

    Even if you’re only getting one or two messages a month, these conversations are a powerful way to turn your company’s fans into full-fledged evangelists. You may not be reaching people on quite the same scale as you once could, but you can still have incredibly high quality interactions simply by keeping your FB page up.

  • http://twitter.com/jessnola Jessica Rohloff

    Also, thanks for the Instagram tip! I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a really good point. Gives me a reason to start using it more.

  • Jason Noblett

    Thanks for sound advice and pragmatic approach to success on Facebook

  • Azalea Pena

    Facebook is indeed a great social marketing site to market a business. But not many marketers know the full potential of using Facebook. It’s not just about keeping it updated or posting content. Facebook gives us the chance to get closer to our audience at a much different level and if we don’t take advantage of this, we’re just losing edge. Your ideas are very helpful in promoting the page, but I just want to add that customer engagement is as much of a priority.

  • Andrew @biddlywiddly

    Hey Belle, great post as always. One tiny note – you’ve got a typo in the point 9 subheading (it reads ‘avertise’, not ‘advertise’).

    Keep up the good work!
    Andrew (@BiddlyWiddly)

  • keithdshrock

    Thanks Belle Beth Cooper – It’s great to rethink our approach to marketing … and stretch ourselves.

  • http://www.TabSite.com/ Mike Gingerich

    Just finished the podcast before finding your post. Very well done! Great summary and excellent additional resources.

  • Buy It Handmade

    I have to say I now use Facebook as little as possible.
    What they do to make it harder and not easier to use is so uncalled for.
    I will be glad of the day they go the way of My Space.
    Anyone remember what that is???
    Facebook is what took over to make it fun and easier to share more than one could dream of on My Space.
    I say “Good bye and good riddance one day Facebook!

    • Avril111

      my Aunty Grace got a nearly new blue Kia by working part time from the
      internet. look at this now J­u­m­p­6­2­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Chaitanya Mehandru

    Great post…had been looking for such info.

  • disqus_KxCRoi0cz1

    It seems that Facebook is moving more towards the Google model of sponsored content rating highest it’s algorithm. Both of these advertising and marketing platforms have denied this for a long time. Unfortunately the average user isn’t adept at this realization.

  • hosmersean

    It seems that Facebook is moving to the Google model of paid inclusion for rank. It is just a matter of time before the users become sophisticated enough to realize this fact. Even my mother has realized this and has moved away from Facebook. Social networks will be seen as internet noise soon and Facebook and others will have to start disguising the way that they display data to encourage interaction much the way Google has by changing the contrast of it “sponsored links” backgrounds.

  • terrilee

    Hey Belle! There are some really great points and hacks in this article – especially that no entity should rely solely on Facebook for their marketing. When I first heard about the move from Edgerank to the new algorithm, I really thought Facebook might not be worth it anymore. However, I managed a FB business page for almost 2 years and decided to delve deeper into the insights section to understand what might really be going on. I found that a little more thoughtful strategy and understanding of the Insights tab might ease some of the challenges FB Page managers are facing. I chronicle my investigation here ( http://www.stayclassy.org/blog/why-facebooks-new-algorithm-might-a-good-thing/ )

    Of course, this is based on one case BUT I really think fully utilizing the Insights feature on a Page is worth the time and shouldn’t be overlooking when reassessing FB marketing strategy for success with the new algorithm.

    Thanks for these insights – very helpful!

    • Guest

      *shouldn’t be overlooed :)

    • terrilee

      *shouldn’t be overlooked :)

  • http://snafflepuss.wordpress.com/ Nicole Healing

    The point about allowing people to follow your personal account is interesting. However, the majority of people want to keep their Facebook profile separate from their work life. Obviously, one can pick which updates they share publicly/with followers, but there could be a surge in second “professional” accounts. Facebook doesn’t like duplicate accounts…perhaps that should be reviewed?

  • Ryan Mendenhall

    What’s the 10th way?

  • http://homeloanartist.com Brad Yzermans

    I would add Google+ to the list of other social platforms. I think a lot of industry professionals follow each other and could help each others website/blog with G+ profile and authorship domain authority.

  • Elmarie Porthouse

    Once again, a great post, Beth. Paying so the followers you already have on Facebook can see your posts, just doesn’t seem to me to make any sense. If someone liked your page, it should tell Facebook that they want to see your posts in their feed. Such a shame that they changed this!

  • ZuckermanCanSuckerone

    1% – 2% “organic” reach. GET REAL! 1% – 2% of your posts will be seen by the people who made the conscious decision they WANTED to see your posts! Let’s break this down shall we? Here’s some simple math for ya’…

    If you have a FB page with 1000 subscribers, TEN to TWENTY people will end up seeing your average post! The other 980-990 SEE NOTHING. NOTHING!!!

    An “epic” post that most of the whopping 10-20 people who actually see, comment on, like & share, will grow slightly and get CAPPED at around 10% (100 views). Again, this is an “epic”, “best possible” post.

    So if you have 1000 subscribers to your page, you REALLY have about 10-20 subscribers. HA!

    10,000 subscribers? 100-200.

    HA! HA! HA!

    If you have 300 or 400 followers on a site like Twitter (100% reach) or Instragram, etc. then you already have more viewers than your BOGUS Facebook page with 10,000 followers who will NEVER, EVER, EVER see your posts.

    Jr. High school girls tweeting pics of their cats are getting more views on non-Facebook sites than BIG companies are on Facebook!

    IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON PEOPLE. DO THE MATH. YOU’VE OFFICIALLY BEEN BURNED BY FACEBOOK.

  • http://cirquedumot.com/new-readers/ Susan Silver

    Love tip #3, we start using Facebook for business and we seem to forget why we were there in the first place. To connect with others. I haven’t taken this step yet, but I am seriously considering it. There are benefits.

    If you are not comfy with making updates public,,,you can create custom lists of people to share specific things with. This will keep some posts private, but you could also use it to segment your audience to improve performance if you want to be super savvy. I think it will only work for people who you have friended though. Facebook FAQ on creating lists https://www.facebook.com/help/135312293276793/

    Honestly, I do not understand the following feature of Facebook very well. I suppose it is so your friends still see the posts you want to keep private, but you can broadcast your public posts so that people don’t have to visit your profile.

  • http://www.djredsonya.com/ Sonya Lynn

    great article!

  • Kassy

    Did the feature pictured in #8 disappear? I personally liked to use this when on Facebook and I noticed it was nowhere to be found recently!