A few years back, if you had a Facebook page with thousands of likes, it was considered as a good digital asset. If you posted an update on your Facebook page, it would actually be seen by most of the people who follow your page.
As the popularity of this publishing medium grew, more people and brands started creating Facebook pages and publishing updates regularly. Facebook users also ended up following a lot of pages. This resulted in too many updates in a user’s feed which were not always relevant and useful.
Facebook knew this was coming. Hence, they built an algorithm in such a way that only selected updates were displayed on a user’s Facebook feed. The decision is made by Facebook’s algorithm. This is called the Facebook’s EdgeRank.
According to Wikipedia: “EdgeRank is the name commonly given to the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what articles should be displayed in a user’s News Feed.”
The Facebook team is continuously working on improving the algorithm to show the most relevant and useful updates on the user’s feed. It makes sense because if users are shown updates that are not interesting enough, then they will stop logging into Facebook frequently. Even, you would stop using Facebook if the updates that you get are not relevant and interesting.
Facebook now uses more than 100,000 factors in deciding what to display on a user’s feed. As more people and brands use Facebook to post updates, Facebook will become even more selective in what to display in the user’s feed. Only the highly relevant and useful updates will be displayed.
Obviously, Facebook doesn’t have manual reviewers to check if the posts are interesting or not. That’s why they use the algorithm to take the decision. But the algorithm is built by humans.
How a Post Gathers Momentum
A simple way for Facebook to check the quality and relevancy of the posts is to see how many likes, comments, shares and clicks the post gets, and how fast it gets.
If you post a new update, Facebook will show it to a test group of people. If it doesn’t get enough activity the post will die down. Lack of activity is the proof that the post is not of good quality. If it instantly gets a lot of likes and other activity, then Facebook’s algorithm ‘knows’ that you have posted an interesting update and it will show the post to more people.
Facebook is continuously working on improving their algorithm and making it fool proof. For example, many people post click-bait and like-bait articles such as ‘Like this post to win XYZ’ or something like that. The Facebook team has reviewed a lot of such posts and they have built it into the algorithm to look for signals for such misleading and click-bait posts.
If you post such misleading updates, it may reach more people in the short term, but in the long run, your page and domain will be flagged and your reach may be restricted.
So how do you make sure that your Facebook posts reach more people? You just need to think from the shoes of Facebook. Make the posts interesting enough to make people stick to Facebook. Share limited posts on your page and share only interesting posts. Build authority for your domain and page slowly over time. Make Facebook trust you.
Also if you think from Facebook’s shoes, it makes sense for Facebook to retain users on Facebook – than let them leave and visit some other site. So obviously, the posts that do not contain links perform better than posts with outbound links.
I have noticed that Polls, photos, text posts and Facebook videos reach more people than external links. This has been tested several times by others as well.
For example, look at the post below. It is a set of 3 photos with one line of text. Here, people spend time on Facebook and do not click away to another website.
Such posts usually have high organic reach. But the higher reach also applies for paid reach. Here you can see that for $5, I’ve got 957 photo clicks. That’s just 0.52 cents ($0.0052) per click!
Apart from getting more post engagement, this paid promotion has also given me 50 new page likes.
Your Facebook Page is Not Your Property
End of the day, try not to depend on Facebook too much for reaching your audience and followers. Because you are building your home on someone else’s land.
Try to get people back into your digital properties and use Facebook and other social media channels to build your brand. Do not build something on top of Facebook. Even if people ‘Like’ your Facebook page, they are still Facebook’s users and not yours. FB’s terms can change and it may become even more difficult to reach your audience in the future.
That’s why it is important to build an email list. When people sign up on your website by giving away their email ID, they become your users and you have explicit permission to contact them; and no one can restrict your reach when you are sending emails.
In the next post, I will talk about how to get targeted Facebook page likes and followers – using a mix of organic & paid promotion techniques. Stay tuned!