Facebook continues its reign in the social media world. The company recently announced a staggering 1.28 billion daily active users and nearly 2 billion monthly active users in its first quarter of 2017.
Facebook’s algorithm determines what content each one of those 2 billion monthly users sees in their News Feed. If you want your audience to see your content, you’ll need to understand Facebook’s algorithm and adjust your social strategy accordingly. The tricky part? The algorithm is updated often.
Adapting your social strategy to an ever-changing algorithm will ensure you produce relevant content and stay visible to followers. Here are three ways to make the Facebook algorithm work for you.
1. Improve digital curb appeal
Your small business may or may not have a physical curb, but it should definitely have a digital home—your website. A website can make or break a company. Everything your business does online links back to your website, so your homepage should be informative, beautiful, clean, and engaging.
A well-organized and user-friendly website will encourage people to not only visit but also stay awhile. This isn’t just an issue of personal aesthetics, either—Facebook has recently announced that it will downplay links back to low-quality websites in an effort to curb fake news.
Ensure your website is engaging and appealing, both to your users and to the algorithm, with these easy tips.
Refresh your website
Before you invest time and energy into your Facebook business page, give your company website some attention. Establish a credible and informative website for your followers to visit. For example:
Opt for icons instead of words, especially for social media buttons
Incorporate white space to give your website a clean feel
Use concise sentences and short paragraphs to improve readability
Change fonts to adjust the overall design and feel of your website
Proofread everything—spelling and grammar mistakes impact credibility
Keep the most important content above the fold
Remove annoying ads
Remove spammy ads from your website. Make sure to test the metrics of your popups and use them sparingly. Too many pesky pop-ups can pull your audience away from important content—and your business. Remember: Facebook’s algorithm buries links to low-quality sites containing irrelevant content or shocking and malicious ads.
If you don’t already have a blog on your website, create one. Blogs are a great way to engage with your audience and boost your Google rank. Make a genuine effort to engage with your followers. For example,
Reply to comments on your blog and social media
Answer questions or concerns quickly
Like and repost content your followers share
2. Master Facebook reach
The recent ’friends and family update’ prioritizes posts from users’ family and friends. Many businesses worry reach will decrease as their target audience is served pictures of Aunt Susan’s adorable golden retriever puppy first. Meanwhile, many marketers have taken to Facebook, complaining about their drastic drop in organic reach.
Here are two different strategies to keep your content visible.
Focus on social ads
To improve brand visibility on Facebook you can emphasize paid ads. This does require a chunk of your advertising budget, but fortunately, Facebook ads are relatively affordable and can be specifically targeted to your audience
Use a sales funnel approach and create ads in three stages—awareness, consideration, and conversion. Here are a few ways to get started:
Write a useful blog post and advertise it to ideal customers to increase brand awareness
Retarget those who clicked on the first ad with another ad that establishes your business as an expert
Advertise a third time to those who clicked on the previous ads by displaying an ad with a sales pitch
Tweak organic reach
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. So, use Facebook’s prioritization of family and friends content to your advantage. Create useful content people will want to share. If Aunt Susan shares your bakery’s tutorial on how to frost the perfect cupcake, your brand lands in someone else’s News Feed. Posting shareable content can save you ad dollars.
Measure the performance of your content with Facebook Analytics. This free tool will show you what kinds of posts are most popular on your page. If you have a business page with over 30 followers, you can also access free on-page Insights.
Facebook analytics allows you to dive deeper into metrics:
Post types that drive audience interest
When your audience is on Facebook and engaging with your business
Likes and reactions to different types of posts
Number of unique viewers who saw your content
3. Prioritize video
When users share your videos on Facebook, your brand experiences a boost in organic reach. The Facebook algorithm now prioritizes video in the News Feed and analyzes the “percent completion.” If a user watches most of a video, Facebook will then boost similar videos in that user’s News Feed.
Not sure how to optimize your video strategy? Start with these three tactics.
Upload videos directly to Facebook
When you upload videos directly to Facebook, it’s called native video. Recent studies show that native videos have a 1055% higher share rate than YouTube videos uploaded to Facebook.
Focus on the first four seconds
The high share rate of native video is partly due to the autoplay feature. This feature allows the video to begin playing as the user scrolls their News Feed. Use autoplay to your advantage by capturing your audience within the first four seconds of your video.
Know your audience. How old are they? Are they male or female? What problems do they need solved? Keep this in mind as you’re creating your video, particularly the attention-grabbing first four seconds. Carefully plan your video intro. A/B test different ideas, angles, and settings to determine which is most captivating.
Keep videos short
One study shows that videos around 21 seconds or less performed the best using Facebook’s percentage completion. Facebook counts a video as “completed” if a user watches at least 95% of said video. When videos score higher on completion percentage, those videos—and similar ones—are more likely to be seen in News Feeds.
Facebook is constantly updating its algorithm. Stay up to date by checking Facebook Business News often, watch your Page analytics closely, and use the tips above to build an algorithm-approved Facebook strategy.
This article has been edited.
Alec Sears is a California native who married a Utah girl (and now enjoys mountains instead of beaches). He graduated from Brigham Young University in public relations and business management and now works for Frontier Business, where he loves scoping out and reporting on small business trends.