Facebook post display algorithm

Every social media specialist wonders what to do to make his posts appear to the largest possible audience. That is why the Facebook algorithm has been a hot topic for many years. Below I will present you the basics of its operation and some less known principles of factors that affect organic reach.

First, let’s consider why organic reach on Facebook is dropping. We ourselves are responsible for this state of affairs, not the algorithm. We are producing too much content, more than our society can consume. We always focus on quantity, not quality. The average Facebook user, assuming no algorithm, would consume up to 1,500 posts a day. According to Facebook data, daily users scroll through the newsfeed of the size of a large skyscraper with at least several dozen floors. No wonder that the website from Menlo Park is trying to make our lives easier and show only things that may interest us.

Organic reach on Facebook: how to get it?

How does Facebook evaluate posts?

Every time we visit Facebook, the system compiles our newsfeed from scratch. The first step is to collect all of our friends’ posts, the groups we belong to, and the pages we follow. So the above mentioned 1,500 posts.

Then it analyzes the so-called “signals” for each of the posts. This is where the magic begins, because we know that there are up to 100,000 of these signals. However, we are aware of the existence of only a fraction of them! Additionally, we do not know which of them are stronger and which are weaker.

On the basis of the data that provide the signals, Facebook creates predictions.

Prediction : What is the chance that we will comment on our friend’s photo?

Facebook takes into account not only how often we interact with this particular friend, whether we belong to the same groups, but also whether we are generally more inclined to comment on any content on Facebook. The third factor is the influence of our friend on his target group – the bigger he is, the greater the chance that we will see his post as well.

Prediction: What is the chance that the given video will be watched to the end?

In this case, not only is the source of the video important (and our link to it necessarily), but also whether we will watch it on a cell phone with a weak Internet or laptop connected to a permanent connection. Facebook will also pay attention to how much time other users have devoted to this video. If the retention rate is high (less than 20 percent survived to half of the material), he will assume that you are not interested in the video either.

The number of predictions combined with 1500 posts and over 100 thousands of signals of varying strength gives us an almost infinite number of combinations. Somehow, Facebook’s servers hold up and are able to assign a specific result to each post. Importantly, the results for given posts are constantly being calculated from scratch!

In this way, in our newsfeed we only see posts with the highest results.

Fighting with Facebook’s algorithm is a doomed fight in advance of failure

Firstly, because we are aware of maybe one per mille of its components. The remaining elements will always remain a mystery to us. Second, this algorithm is constantly changing. Even if we “discover” something, the next morning it may already be out of date. Third, it depends on how people in general react to posts, and we don’t have much influence on that.

Of course, we can nibble ours if we carefully analyze a large number of posts (at least several hundred a month). However, we will never be able to find the Golden Grail that will allow us to permanently significantly increase the organic reach.

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Facebook divides users into different groups

The division is made based on how (reaction , comment, sharing, etc.), we respond to a specific form of content (video, graphics, link, etc.). So among the users there is a group that mostly reacts with graphics, ignoring videos and links. It is no wonder then that the algorithm will highly rate graphic posts that end up in their newsfeed. There are also users who leave reactions but do not comment or share. Ba! This group includes people who leave these reactions mainly under the graphics or only under the video. Then Facebook will give high scores to content that has received a large number of reactions from other users.

There are a lot of such groups. They play an important role in making predictions. There is another aspect important to you that you should take into account. Well, there are people from different groups on your fan page, with different preferences regarding content formats. Therefore, you should strive to diversify your content. By posting only content in the form of graphics, you automatically cut off users who react to videos and links, and thus reduce the organic reach.

Facebook’s algorithm: the strongest signals

As I wrote earlier, we do not know exactly what weight each signal has. Probably it is also changing because Facebook is experimenting with newsfeed and looking for the perfect solution that will satisfy as many users as possible.

However, as Facebook itself admits in its materials, the most powerful signal is the time from publication – fresh posts have a greater chance of being included in the user’s newsfeed.

Another important signal is the number of comments and discussions between users (responding to comments ). Of course, comments must be extensive and varied. A hundred comments like “Ok”, “It’s great” etc. will not be a strong signal.

When it comes to links, apart from the aforementioned time, number of comments and other interactions, the domain strength also matters. You might be surprised, but there is such a thing as website positioning on Facebook. It’s about identifying domains that publish content identified by AI as fake news or clickbait.

Edit: December 2019.

My observations show that the time we spend on a given post has been a very strong signal for several weeks. And it’s not about watching a video or writing a comment. It is enough for you to look at a given post for several seconds without leaving any interaction. I would like to remind you that the average time we spend on one post in the newsfeed ranges from 1.8 seconds (mobile) to 2.5 seconds (desktop). This is a good chance for text statuses, but you need to remember that the first line of it should be attractive enough and draw attention so that users feel encouraged to continue reading. You can do it, for example, by using emoticons.

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And what are your observations on how the algorithm works on Facebook?

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Read also:

Facebook organic reach: how to get it?

Facebook changes: is this the end of organic traffic?

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