5 Steps to Prepare for Facebook Algorithm Changes

I sat down with Audrey Tanberg, Senior Social Media Strategist at The Fearey Group, to discuss the upcoming Facebook algorithm changes along with 5 steps businesses can take to prepare for them. You can listen to the podcast or read the full transcript below.

Transcription of Podcast:
Chris Guizlo: Hi everyone, this is Chris Guizlo from the Fearey Group in Seattle and I am joined today by Audrey Tanberg, our social media strategist, and the topic of the day today is Facebook algorithm changes. Yesterday Facebook announced, and it has been widely reported, that the social media site will be prioritizing news and updates from your family and friends over brands. So that’s going to be a huge impact if you’re managing a social media brand for a company or an organization. But Audrey reminded me before we sat down that this is not the first time that this has happened, right Audrey?
Audrey Tanberg: Yeah, that’s right, there have been updates that have been happening since Facebook ever started. I can remember in 2009 or maybe 2011 when people were really freaking out about the change that reduced your reach and you weren’t going to be reaching as many people. Maybe as far back as 2012, you were reaching as many as 16% of your fans and now it’s closer to maybe 2% perhaps of the people who already like your page on Facebook. But this change is big, this is a bigger deal than the ones we’ve seen before. We don’t have all the details on it yet. There’s a lot of speculation going around out there; I’ve seen a lot of people in the social media world talking about what this might mean, but we don’t have all the details yet. So it’s going to take a couple of weeks, possibly months, as it rolls out, to see what this really looks like for everybody.
Chris Guizlo: So, if you’re managing a brand page for an organization, what are the five steps that you need to be taking, or the five things that you need to be thinking about right now, as this change rolls out and we see how this grows and changes?
Audrey Tanberg: The big things to think about from what we do know so far is that they say they are going to be prioritizing content between people, so meaningful interactions between people, and just showing less stuff from business pages and media type pages. So, the top five things I think business pages need to be thinking about right now are:

  1. Don’t over-post. If you’ve got content planned and some of it’s just so-so and some of it’s your really great content, push your really great content and maybe just scrap your so-so content. We don’t need to add any extra fluff right now because you don’t want to show up to the Facebook algorithm as having content that people don’t want to engage with. You want the Facebook algorithm to see the content that you share is very engaging. So that would be number one: don’t over-post.
  2. Prioritize engaging content. Prioritize the type of content that you’re sharing to be the type that really encourages interactions. So, if it’s a question, or if it’s the kind of post that people want to tag their friends in and say “oh check this out, we should go there”, or share with other people and say “this is pretty cool”, that’s the kind of content you want to be sharing. Now keep in mind you don’t want to be doing what they call “engagement baiting”, which is something like “comment below to enter to win tickets to…” or something like that. That kind of thing, that engagement baiting, will be downgraded by the Facebook algorithm. They will know that you’re doing that and it won’t be shown to as many people.
  3. Encourage fans to choose to see your page first. Encourage your fans, the people who currently like your Facebook page now, to choose to see your page first. So, this would be a call to action to send out to the people that already like your page now. You might want to put a little bit of money behind it and tell them, “hey, there’s a change, so if you want to continue seeing our content in your newsfeed, choose to ‘See First.’” There’s a way to do that when they’re on your page. At the top of the page they can click to see you: “By Default” is the regular one and then “See First” means your posts will show up at the top of their newsfeed when they log in.
  4. Consider setting up a group. If your page is one that would work with a group, then I would say go ahead and set up a group, because groups are performing really well in the newsfeed. And that’s the kind of place where people are interacting back and forth a lot. That’s not going to work for a lot of businesses, but for some businesses, it would work really well. So, if a group would work for your business – maybe it’s a certain group of people that interact with your page a lot – you might consider setting up a group so that it does continue to show up high in their newsfeed.
  5. Use Facebook Live. One of the things that was mentioned in this update was that passive types of content, like videos that people are just watching and perhaps not even turning the sound on, that’s considered passive content and they’re really going to be prioritizing the type of content that encourages engagement. So, Facebook Lives would be great, because those kinds of videos really do encourage engagement. It’s a back and forth with you to the viewer; people are asking questions, you’re answering questions. So, if you are currently doing videos, you might consider doing Facebook Lives to keep your content high in your users’ newsfeeds.

Chris Guizlo: Great Audrey, that’s awesome advice. But outside of these five core things, organizations should still be thinking about how they can pay to play. We know that Facebook is moving in that direction and has already gone that way, and this is just another way and move towards that. So, we always recommend people boost their most popular content on a weekly basis even if it’s a small amount. Can you tell us a little bit about how you help businesses do that and what your recommendation to them would be?
Audrey Tanberg: Yeah, Facebook has been – and social media in general has been – a pay-to-play space for some time for businesses. Like I mentioned earlier, we’ve been reaching fewer and fewer numbers of our audience or percentage of our audience as the years go by because there are so many people on Facebook now. I mean, we’re talking there are billions of people on there. Every business has a Facebook page. There’s only so much space, and you only have so much time when you’re on your newsfeed. So, if you look at your own personal newsfeed right now, you probably are only seeing stuff from your friends and family and the only business posts you’re seeing are sponsored posts, and that means people paid for those. So that’s already been the situation for some time now, and we have been encouraging people to definitely set aside a budget for promoted posts, and moving forward it sounds like it’s going to be even more important to do that. There was no mention in this update about how this would affect ads, but I can imagine that you’re probably going to need ads moving forward. The basic thing that we recommend doing for engagement is to look at your content from the past week, see what performed really well and then promote that. You could choose to promote it for a week, or for two weeks. You might choose to look at your top posts from the last month and promote it for the next month if its evergreen – it’s proving that it already resonated well with your audience so that’s the post to pick. Don’t pick the post that hasn’t done so well and try to elevate it, because your audience has already said that they didn’t like it as much. Pick the post that has performed the best and put a little bit of money behind it—and when we say a little bit of money, I mean, it can be $5 a day, you know, it doesn’t have to be a ton. Then, of course, any other campaigns you’re doing to perhaps drive people to your website or to do lead generation, that’s important as well.
Chris Guizlo: Great, well we’re going to keep an eye on this as it moves forward and this change actually rolls in, so please stay tuned and thanks for the listen.
Audrey Tanberg: Thanks.