The New Facebook Algorithm: Secrets Behind How It Works and What You Can Do To Succeed
The Facebook algorithm is constantly evolving in order to provide a better experience for users.
But few changes to the algorithm have sparked as much interest and conversation as the recent ‘meaningful interactions’ update, in which Facebook said it would be prioritizing posts that create meaningful conversations, especially those from family and friends.
The reaction to this update was one of curiosity and worry from brands, publishers, and Facebook Page managers, wondering whether or not their organic reach would once again take a hit, causing them to reach an even smaller percentage of their audience on Facebook.
We were lucky enough to get an inside look at the brand new Facebook algorithm for 2018, directly from an exclusive News Feed webinar for publishers (thanks to Matt Navarra and Ned Berke).
Here’s everything we know about how the Facebook algorithm works and what marketers and brands can do to thrive on Facebook in 2018.
Let’s dive in!
How the Facebook algorithm and News Feed works (2018)
When a user visits Facebook, there are thousands of potential posts that might be displayed in their News Feed. The sophisticated algorithm takes these posts and arranges them according to how likely the user would be to interact with the content.
That’s the basic theory, at least. Let’s take an even deeper look.
In the recent Facebook News Feed webinar, their team broke the algorithm down into four, very simple components:
Inventory (content available)
Signals (considerations about content)
Predictions (considerations about person)
These four key algorithm factors serve the sole purpose of providing Facebook users with a better overall experience.
Signals are what we as brands and marketers can focus on in order to have our content seen by more users on the Facebook News Feed.
Previously, Facebook used all sorts of signals to determine which posts would be shown to users:
Now, the algorithm will use signals that heavily favor “active” interactions such as comments and shares:
One reason why Facebook will be prioritizing posts from family and friends over public content from Pages is that they believe a person-to-person connection is more valuable than a person-to-page connection.
In other words, content from friends and family tends to spark more “active” engagement from users.
As Alaura Weaver writes in her Medium article on the importance of story-driven content, “Instead of focusing on what makes content popular and attention-grabbing, we need to focus on what makes content personal and conversation-worthy.”
Understanding each of the top signals and ranking factors in the Facebook algorithm is the first step in creating content that ranks well.
Top ranking factors in the Facebook algorithm
When considering the types of content that Facebook will favor in the News Feed moving forward, it’s important to distinguish between “active” and “passive” interactions.
Active interactions such as sharing, commenting, and reacting will hold much more weight than “passive” interactions such as clicking, viewing, or hovering.
Let’s take a look at each active interaction in a bit more detail.
The signal at the very top of the new Facebook algorithm in 2018 is comments.
As Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, wrote in a January press release: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook–in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”
However, it’s important to clarify that using “engagement bait” to goad people into commenting will actually
Facebook Page admins should continue to focus on posting relevant and meaningful stories that do not use engagement bait tactics. More on that later in the post!2. Sharing
Directly behind commenting in the new Facebook algorithm for 2018 is sharing.
In the graphic above on “signals” you might have noticed that Facebook mentions two types of sharing:
People sharing links or content within Messenger
Engagement with a publisher post shared by a friend
In other words, Facebook is placing a great deal of emphasis on posts that are shared publicly as well as privately.
The other key thing to notice here is that it’s no longer enough just to have someone share your post. Facebook will now favor shared posts that spark conversations among friends.
For example, if I share a post from Buffer’s Facebook Page and my friends start to comment on my shared post within the feed, then that post will continue to be shown to other people, increasing the post’s reach.
But if I share a post from Buffer’s Page and it receives no comments (or reactions) from my friends, then Buffer’s post will begin to be demoted in the News Feed.result in a demotion of your posts in the News Feed.
Keep a close eye on those shares moving forward!
The third main signal that Facebook will factor into their algorithm moving forward is reactions.
While not as strong as comments or shares, reactions remain a form of “active engagement” that will help brands’ posts reach more people within the News Feed.
We can’t expect everyone to share or comment on posts and so reactions are a great tertiary way for Facebook to judge the quality of the content. And according to Mark Zuckerberg in a recent Facebook post, quality is a crucial piece moving forward:
“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good”
Here’s a quick recap of what we know so far: