Demystifying the Facebook algorithm so you can get real results

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So many people are complaining about low Facebook reach these days, to the point that many are jumping ship and deleting their business pages entirely so they can focus their time on Twitter or Google+. The problem with that is that, for many businesses, Facebook is still one of the best social media sites to market your business and connect with your ideal clients.

Facebook marketing experts say that 6% reach is average, and 10% is excellent…meaning that if you have 500 likes on your business page, you can expect to reach 30-50 of those fans. Sound dismal?

It depends on how you look at it: you can reframe your perspective and realize that Facebook is helping you to get your posts in front of the 30-50 people who will be most likely to engage with it, in the form of liking, commenting or sharing. In other words, Facebook is helping you get your content in front of the right eyes, so you don’t have to worry about people who aren’t as interested.
 

The mysterious Facebook algorithm

The question most people have these days is: how does Facebook decide which posts to show someone? According to Facebook, there are over 100,000 factors taken into consideration for the news feed algorithm.

Facebook isn’t hiding your posts to be mean. And they’re not doing it because they want more money from you in the form of advertising dollars (well, not entirely). According to Facebook statistics, a typical user has about 1,500 stories/posts that could show up in their news feed on a daily basis.

That’s pretty overwhelming, don’t you agree? That means that Facebook had to create this algorithm to deliver the types of posts that you’re most likely to enjoy as a user.
 

What shows up in your news feed

Facebook takes into account the following elements (among many, many others):

  • Your previous interaction with the page owner
  • Your previous interaction with the type of post. If you like mostly photo posts, Facebook will deliver mostly photo posts. The same goes for links: if you tend to click on link posts, you will receive more link posts.
  • Reactions from others who saw the post. If lots of other people liked/shared/commented on a post, you’re more likely to see it in your news feed.
  • The amount of negative feedback. If lots of other users chose to hide the post from their newsfeed, odds are you won’t be seeing it at all.

Other factors

Facebook also takes into account a number of other factors, including but not limited to:

  • Stories shared automatically from third party apps. This means that if you automatically share songs from Spotify or ALL your photos from Instagram, they won’t get as much reach.
  • This does NOT affect scheduling and post management apps like HootSuite and Buffer, or individual photos shared from Instagram, for example.
  • People who watch lots of videos will see more videos in their news feed. Conversely, people who scroll past videos without viewing will see fewer videos in their feed.
  • The device being used. Posts that are difficult to view or engage with on a mobile device will not be shown to mobile users.
  • Whether or not someone has selected to get notifications or receive updates from your page is also taken into consideration.

How to beat the system?

In a nutshell…you can’t. But there is a lot you can do to improve Facebook reach. I know I said in the beginning that 6-10% reach is good (and that’s what I get on my own business page), but one page that I manage for a client regularly gets 50% reach…and often 75-90% reach, which is pretty crazy.

So I know it can be done…for free. This is all organic reach. We do it by sharing exactly the type of content that our fans love: quotes by the author, either in quote boxes or with photographs.

We get loads of shares, likes, and lots of discussion in the comment section of each post. It all comes down to sharing exactly the types of content that your fans will most find interesting, useful, and engaging.

If you want more engagement, share engaging content. That sounds silly, but it all comes down to that. More interaction equals more reach.
 

Other ways to increase reach

You can invest money in ads to increase views of specific posts. This is best for posts that are promoting something specific, like your mailing list opt-in gift, a webinar you’re hosting, or a product/service you’re offering.

Share different types of posts. Your fans will all like different things: some will prefer link posts, others will like photo posts. Remember that Facebook will serve each fan the type of content that they most enjoy engaging with.

Get better at “doing” Facebook. Don’t just blindly post stuff and hope it sticks. Go into your Insights and see which types of posts are getting more engagement…and do more of that. Get clear on which types of posts are getting less engagement, and plan to do less of that.
 

The bottom line

You shouldn’t really be worried about reach. As Facebook expert Mari Smith always says, “people talking about this” doesn’t pay the bills. You need to be focusing on solid business results, not on vanity metrics like likes and reach.

Solid business results include:

  • Traffic to your website
  • Signups to your mailing list
  • Signups to your webinar
  • Enrollment in your courses
  • Purchases on your website

High reach or lots of likes on your business page doesn’t guarantee any of these things. And your social media strategy should always be looking to track solid business results rather than vanity metrics like fans/likes/follows.

I hope this clarified things for you. Rather than being upset with Facebook for low reach, we can reframe our thinking, do a little research, and make sure we really optimize our time online. Good luck!
 

Holly Worton helps coaches and women in heart-centered businesses go from confusion to confidence with social media, so they can use it to build relationships online and get more clients. As a heart-centered business owner, you do amazing work, and Holly wants to help you help more people. The way to do that is through Connection, and social media is one of the best ways to connect with others and build your tribe. Sign up for her free 90-minute social media training at SociallyHolistic to start building connections online. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, or Instagram.