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Debunking Facebook’s Algorithm: How to Beat the System


A recent update to the Facebook algorithm has brands shaking in their boots. Why?

Effective immediately, users will see less unpaid content from companies and more posts from friends and family. So, if you’re already seeing a decrease in reach on your brand’s organic content, you can blame the algorithm update.

The Facebook algorithm delivers specialized content to each user’s newsfeed, showing them more of what they want to see based on what they “like.” This is a game-changer for brands who rely on organic reach because it may significantly decrease exposure.

In 2016, SocialFlow analyzed over 3,000 Facebook posts and reported a 42 percent decrease in organic reach for brands. With each “algo” update that percentage drops, meaning only a small percent of a brand’s following actually sees their posts unless they pay to boost them.

The shifting algorithm is Facebook’s way of increasing demand for boosted posts, making it almost necessary to pay for reach. Now, not only will brands be fighting to get their content seen, having to work twice as hard to get the results they once received organically, but with demand on the rise, brands may find themselves in a bidding war with competitors, racing to see who can land highest on their target market’s newsfeed.

The impact will be even worse for brands that rely on organic reach only – namely small businesses – as this majorly decreasing their visibility among followers. Boosted posts aren’t the be all, end all of digital marketing, however. So, how can you beat the Facebook algo and increase reach without paying big?

Produce content that compels the user to pay attention to your brand.

Consumers are so bombarded by media that they have conditioned themselves to tune out any form of advertising. This adds an extra layer of complication on top of the already challenging algorithm obstacle. So, whether you’re boosting posts or not, your content needs to be captivating enough to get the user to stop mindless scrolling and pay attention.

Videos can be more compelling than static images.

Brands can convey a message more quickly and can evoke more emotion with a video than an image. Facebook videos especially help spike reach and engagement because they play automatically when scrolling through the feed. This tends to catch the consumer’s attention more efficiently than a static image.

Got the budget to experiment?

If you’re not sure what works and are interested in trying out boosted posts, consider A/B testing. If you dedicate a small budget to running two completely different ads, you can figure out which imagery and messaging resonates more among your target market.

Before you go overboard (and over budget) …

Every public relations, advertising or marketing effort you make should align with an objective highlighted in your marketing plan. If, for example, your goal is to increase awareness or drive sales, Facebook ads might be a great option for your company.

But, before you invest your entire digital marketing budget in Facebook ads, know that there is no “one size fits all” option, and what works for one brand may not work for another.

While the algorithm presents a challenge for brands looking to advertise on the platform, any social-savvy brand can beat it by simply knowing what their target wants to see and delivering content that is both captivating and “on-brand.”

About The Author

Abby came to ABC as an intern only to return and emerge as a social media, content development and PR powerhouse.

She was turned onto marketing and its cultural influence as an avid social media user and now channels her knowledge of those platforms to craft consistent messaging and engaging content.

The public relations degree-holder moonlights as a foodie and fan of all things Syracuse, from the eateries to the sports teams. Abby appreciates the family dynamic at ABC, where she can exercise her creativity in a collaborative setting.