Decoding Facebook’s New Algorithm

Facebook, still the granddaddy of social media platforms, recently announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm, which determines the content users will see as they scroll through their newsfeeds. The change, which will roll out over the next few months, will prioritize posts from users’ friends and family that inspire a two-way conversation over content from news outlets, companies and organizations.

What exactly does this mean?

Video, news, and other content you share from your official Facebook page(s) will be considered lower priority than posts from a users’ friends and family; comments on posts will rate more than the number of post likes; and posts where people take time to write long comments will do better than posts that only have short comments. News and video posts will continue to appear in newsfeeds, but the number of a user’s actual friends sharing it will matter more than the post’s overall popularity.

What, then, does this mean for your organization?

With this new algorithm, it’s almost certain that your company’s Facebook page and post engagement, video watch time and Facebook website referral traffic will decrease. You should immediately let your Facebook users know that they are able to opt into seeing posts from the pages they follow at the top of their News Feed.

You can even share this handy graphic we created:

There is, however, no guarantee that your followers will take this step, so it’s important to rethink the way your organization uses Facebook. We’ve provided some food for thought below as you begin to navigate the new paradigm.

1. Social media monitoring will be more important than ever. Posts that receive very long and very angry rants will get a boost, and are more likely to be displayed in users’ feeds. It will be important to monitor your comments several times a day so that you can correct misinformation and prevent a potential crisis from developing.

2. Facebook ad prices are likely to increase. When announcing the new algorithm, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the average user’s time spent on Facebook will decrease. If people are spending less time on the social media platform, there are going to be fewer ad spaces to purchase. With businesses less likely to breakthrough organically, ad spends will have to increase to get in front of the right audiences. Both of these factors are likely to drive up ad prices.

3. Strategic, creative and targeted ad buys will be crucial. Though ad prices are likely to increase, sponsored posts and ad campaigns will be a key way to ensure your Facebook content is viewed by the audiences who are most important to you. This is when a solid understanding of your online audience – best developed through a digital audit and the development of online personas – will be key. Using fresh, compelling ad creative that stands out will also be important, as will smart retargeting and remarketing strategies.

4. Brand advocates will be a necessity. Getting your staff or a few social media influencers to share content from their personal pages on behalf of your company is a strategic way to bypass the new Facebook algorithm. So, how do you leverage your staff’s collective online power or build an influencer marketing campaign? By developing a creative and reciprocal program. It’s not enough to simply ask anyone, even your employees, to share a post. That may work once or twice, but doesn’t generate real results over the long-term. A successful program provides a diverse mix of curated content and successfully monitors and measures activities and posts.

5. Flexibility is key. At JT, we’ve long believed that post “likes” were a passive, vanity metric and it seems Facebook agrees with us. Now that post comments will drive which posts show up in a users’ feed, you’ll want to regularly measure and analyze which content sparked the most discussion and optimize on the fly. If something doesn’t generate discussion, you’ll need to adjust and try something else…quickly. If you aren’t regularly reporting on social media analytics, now is the time to start. More important than reporting is interpreting the data and using it to inform your strategic direction.