Keeping Up With Algorithms

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This ubiquitous and very popular social media platform is changing. Here’s what you need to know.

Facebook can be one of the most low-cost, user-friendly and effective weapons in your digital marketing arsenal, but sometimes it feels like they change it every day. Suddenly, the people you’re used to seeing aren’t showing up in your feed, the news outlet you used to follow has disappeared, and you’re not sure why updates from that frenemy you haven’t seen in 20 years are so prominent.

As a business owner, if you’re starting to wonder if your reach is about to take a(nother) hit, you’re not alone.

The power of interactions

In part, Facebook’s algorithm now prioritizes content it predicts will result in meaningful exchanges, which helps weed out fake accounts and spammers while offering users a news feed better tailored to what they are most likely to respond to. Facebook is looking for links you’ve posted that have been shared over Messenger, that have received comments and likes, and to which there have been multiple replies.

To get the most out of today’s Facebook, you need to get people interacting with your posts, and that doesn’t mean posting incendiary content or begging for likes. It means engaging in conversation, and looking for content others will want to share.

Pics from community events are one idea, especially if you’re able to tag some of the attendees, because people love to share pics of themselves. Bear in mind, though, that Facebook no longer considers a tag itself as a meaningful interaction.

“Share” is still a strong component in page rankings, but a share via Messenger counts more than a general share on a timeline in the belief that it better shows real interaction with real people, even though only one or two or a small group may see it.

Not only does Facebook now see “likes” and “tags” as less important than it once did, but baiting with instructions such as “like as you agree” or “tag a friend who’ll enjoy this” will actually get your post demoted—some key knowledge for those using social media marketing in the industry.

Facebook Live

Another great tool you can use these days is Facebook Live. Designed to compete with Snapchat, YouTube Live, Periscope and other video social media platforms, Facebook Live videos are just that—live. That means you don’t want to create a one- or two-minute video to post after the fact. You can actually share events at your store or within your community in real time, although those who come along later can still see it, so make sure you’re mentioning fairly regularly what you’re up to and why you’re sharing it.

Move around a bit to keep it dynamic, but don’t get too crazy. Introduce yourself, and if you do mess up, just embrace it. “That’s what happens when we’re live, folks!” Then ask your viewers to comment, like and share.

Focus your efforts on posting content that connects like-minded people; create content that naturally results in meaningful interactions, and use niche communities through Facebook groups to bring your message to the right audience.

Six questions to ask yourself before you post

  1. Does it show who we are?
  2. Have I included images?
  3. Does it offer an inside look at what we do?
  4. Is it useful?
  5. Is it consistent with the online image we’re working towards?
  6. Am I having fun?
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