Cracking social media: how Facebook decides what is on your news feed.

We all know the power of social media, how can we not when we spend so much of our lives flicking through countless pages of content. Some of it worthwhile, but most of it tenuous at best.

Marketing your business on social media seems pretty straight forward; create a presence, publish relevant content, get likes and critical mass should do the rest.  

Just looking at the number of monthly unique active visitors on social media gives us all hope:

  • Facebook:           1.44 billion
  • Instagram:          300 million
  • Twitter:                236 million
  • LinkedIn:             187 million

Ironically, the overcrowding of content will be one of the bigger hurdles you will need to overcome. There are more than 18 million business pages on Facebook alone. Users are both over stimulated and spoilt for choice.

Having a basic knowledge of how social media manages content might give you a leg up.

Many of us pretend to understand the algorithms that Facebook use to calculate what shows up on your news feed, but like googles, no one really has any clue.

Lars Backstrom, Facebook engineer, claims that there ae more that there are more than 100,000 individual weighting parameters that determine what content is displayed on your feed.

There are however some elements that are public knowledge:

  1. Post types that receive the most interaction from user; photo, text, or video.
  2. Which posts a user hides.
  3. How a user interacts with paid ads.
  4. And finally the device and speed of the internet.

The three pillars of EdgeRank also play a key role in determine if you will show on a news feed:

  1. Affinity, or how much a user interacts with your page.
  2. Weight, Facebook place priority on videos and photos.
  3. Decay, the older you post the less likely it will show up in news feeds.

When you thought it couldn’t get any more complicated, Facebook also monitors user behaviour to determine news feed visibility:

  1. How a user interacts with the authors page and post.
  2. The types of post a user interacts with.
  3. How other users interact with a post.
  4. And the more obvious, how many complaints or negative feedback received.

There are a few key strategies that can help you gain maximum exposure:

  1. Post at non-peak times: the less content being shared, the more you stand out.
  2. Share photos of you and your team: people can relate to real experiences.
  3. Engage with your followers with questions: don’t try to plug your product, just listen.
  4. Share valuable information; Facebook loves photos, so try infographics or pictographics.

Achieving success online is always a battle of the numbers. Don’t implement any strategy without first understanding how you will measure its success.

Make informed hypothesis and validate with analytics and conversion metrics. Just like a start-up would with the MVP lifecycle model; build, measure, learn.

Your strategy will evolve equally from discovering what works vs. what doesnt work.