You thought you were in love with Facebook, and that Facebook felt the same about you. Then you found out that Facebook only wants you for your money. As it turns out, the algorithm used by Facebook has been weeding out promotional posts in hopes of pleasing users and creating a more profitable relationship with businesses, which means that many of us are having to pay up to be seen.
The Mysterious Facebook Algorithm
The mythical status of Facebook’s algorithm, which determines what users see in their News Feeds, was given a little bit of clarity by a Time magazine article earlier this year. Facebook actually has a “feed quality panel” that includes an office in Knoxville, TN, one in Menlo Park and over 700 users across the nation who study behavior and rate their own browsing priorities against the algorithm to determine a “transposition score.”
Social Marketing Question #57
Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Snapchat? What’s a lawyer to do?
That means that Facebook’s algorithm is constantly being tinkered with to optimize user experience, and that they’re keen on making their algorithm as “human” as possible. So the algorithm is ever changing. It’s estimated that Facebook makes two to three alterations to their New Feed algorithm every week. Most importantly, since the Facebook algorithm has adapted to reflect human behavior, marketing and maintaining a business page on the world’s most popular social media platform is, in many ways, an exercise in predicting the psychology of users.
What does this mumbo-jumbo mean for my law practice?
Well, there are some tried and true methods to generate the most views possible, which, despite the frequent algorithm changes, seem to be successful for businesses on Facebook. Here are just a few of those suggestions:
- Use pictures in posts, especially high-quality pictures. People are more prone to look at a post if it has an eye-catching image attached to it. However, avoid putting a pixelated, blurry photo if you can. The better the quality of the picture, the more successful it generally is.
- Be concise. Posts with lower character-counts get much more attention in a News Feed. After all, this is the age of Twitter, and long diatribes about your future business plans will probably be overlooked in favor of pictures of kittens playing the ukulele.
- Be positive. For example, during the Ferguson protests in Missouri, users’ News Feeds were abuzz with stories about the Ice Bucket Challenge. While Facebook denied that their algorithm favors positive stories over negative ones, user psychology probably has as much to do with the popularity of positive stories as anything.
- Try not to post too many promotional deals, urge users to buy your products or seek your services. Facebook is trying to weed out the occurrence of promotional posts because they’ve found them to be less popular with their users.
What’s the future of Facebook’s News Feed?
It’s difficult to know what the Facebook panel will implement in the coming months and years. There are rumors that time spent reading a post will become a factor, but how far that will go toward increasing the frequency of longer posts has yet to be proven. User customization will lead to more personalized feeds, evident in the inclusion of the “See First” button, where users choose whose feeds they would like to view first when logging on.
It might be getting tougher to crack into News Feeds using methods that businesses used to have success with, but that doesn’t mean that we should abandon our business pages altogether. Facebook is still the most popular social media network in the world with well over a billion users. By being smarter about how to engage Facebook users, we can still generate a lot of business and connect with new people.
For more resources about marketing on Facebook, see the official page on Facebook best practices, which includes tips about post consistency and boosting. Also, be sure to check their News Feed blog to keep up to date on announcements regarding their algorithm.