It seems like every time I get on Facebook there is always something “new,” “flashy” or “better” about the website: I’m usually greeted by a new dashboard, add-on, or font—never mind the endless games. However, the recent News Feed algorithm change, which Facebook enacted last December, is generating more discontent than usual amongst Facebook brand page owners. Although the change is supposed to flood users with “higher quality content,” such as more news articles and current events posts, a lot of Facebook page owners are unhappy in the Facebook kingdom. This new change has significantly diminished the organic reach which admins previously were able to disseminate.
In order to understand why Facebook admins are currently so upset, you have to have a basic understanding of social media jargon. Otherwise reading about algorithms is more reminiscent of listening to the adults on a Charlie Brown special than a more accessible Discovery Channel documentary on African Lions. The Facebook News Feed algorithm takes into account a myriad of factors in determining what posts should be shown, how they are shown, and to which Facebook users. In fact, there are more than 1,000 individual contributing factors alone, in determining what news feeds are shown to individual users and which ones are not–from information relating to the individual’s relationship with the postee to how recently the post was last made. It’s a very complicated process.
The key Facebook algorithm change is that the now the new program now focuses more on generating increased engagement with the audience around each individual Facebook status you post. While the program increases the engagement that individuals have with your Facebook content, it simultaneously shrinks the audience size that your content reaches as well. The consequence is that your organic reach—your non-paid reach–becomes significantly less. While not all Facebook users have experienced this problem, the majority of users have, and are now searching for other ways in which they can both maintain the previous reach the once had, while continuing to increase their reach as well.
Facebook admins, once reliant on the organic reach they had to distribute their content, are less successful in reaching their original, larger audiences. If an individual wants to maintain the level of organic reach they had before December, an admin has to pay for Facebook Ads. Facebook generates more revenue, but the user is required to dish out more cash in hopes of sustaining and furthering his total reach.
While Facebook has stated that these algorithm changes are supposed to decrease the frequent call to action and meme content tactics, this new change still punishes, in most cases, those admins who once reached 16% of individuals who liked the page’s content, to now just a mere 2% of these users. In order to maintain some of the previous organic reach admins once had, Chad Whitman from Moz.com recommends that admins focus on creating content which engages the audience, such as asking for and soliciting feedback or including images that connect with the audience. An individual’s success with engaging the audience means that the interaction is based on more than the audience’s amount of simple views, but rather is defined as all clicks, not only by the comments, likes, and shares associated with it. Another suggestion Whitman makes is to study why your fans click the like button on your content, and also test different times for posting different types of content. Certain types of content are more popular in the morning than the evening, for example.
Ultimately, Facebook is the ultimate arbiter of the website’s mechanics, however users can adapt to the new algorithm. And then, six months from now when Facebook “updates” its website, users will once again be prepared to make the necessary changes as they see fit.