Five Recent Facebook Algorithm Updates – What you Need to Know

There have been some more algorithm updates since the major smackdown and as a business, it only makes sense for you to stay updated with these changes so that you don’t end up offending Facebook in the slightest possible manner. You obviously want to make the most out of your business’s presence on Facebook, the final goal being to reach out to your current and target customers and make them engage with your Page’s posts – ultimately driving traffic back to your website/sales/landing pages.

So, I decided to make a compilation of all the major algorithm updates in 2015, (till now of course, because we don’t know if Facebook will come up with more in the future) so that you can find all the info you need, stacked up, in this one place.

Followed by an infographic from QuickSprout to help you improve your organic reach in the light of all these changes.

Here we go.

1. Lower distribution/reach for misleading/deceitful post types

 

Facebook introduced this change in order to reduce displaying misleading/deceitful/false stories (commonly known as hoaxes) in its user’s News Feeds. The change was introduced based on user feedback,

“We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news.”

According to Facebook,

“Hoaxes are a form of News Feed spam that includes scams (“Click here to win a lifetime supply of coffee”), or deliberately false or misleading news stories (“Man sees dinosaur on hike in Utah”). People often share these hoaxes and later decide to delete their original posts after they realize they have been tricked. These types of posts also tend to receive lots of comments from friends letting people know this is a hoax, and comments containing links to hoax-busting websites. In fact, our testing found people are two times more likely to delete these types of posts after receiving such a comment from a friend.”

With this update, when Facebook users click to hide a post in their News Feeds, they can report it as “a false news story” if they feel that they’ve been misinformed.

Posts that are repeatedly flagged as misleading will eventually get lower reach/decreased distribution in the News Feed and may carry a disclaimer informing users that it contains false information, and Pages that repeatedly share posts that get flagged this way will experience an overall drop in their organic reach.

 

Now, here’s the catch, although Facebook makes it clear that this will not affect Pages which post humorous satirical content,

“We’ve found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update.”

A user can flag any type of content as misleading, including a playful hoax or a satirical joke (even when the Page in question is not actually trying to mislead/misguide the user). More often than not, it could be because, the user does not understand the Page’s intentions – the underlying satire or because he/she fails to realize that it’s meant to be a joke. Either way, it could be a bit of a pickle for the Page in question.

 

So, how do you deal with this update?

Well honestly, if you’re a small business selling a product/service there is a very slim chance that you would share something like “Macauley Culkin is dead” on Facebook! (Unless, of course, you’re a die-hard fan or something like that, which is totally fine by the way).

But coming back to the point in case, all I’m trying to say is that if you feel that a story you’re about to share from a third party website sounds misleading, something along the lines of, “Eating whole lemons will save you from cancer“, do some research on it’s authenticity before you post it on our own page to avoid being penalized by Facebook.

 

2. Dip in the number of Page likes due to deletion of certain account types

 

If you noticed a decrease in the number of your Page likes beginning March, a big chunk of it could be due to this change introduced by Facebook.

In an effort to make audience data as relevant as possible for business Pages, Facebook announced that they will be deleting Page likes from users with inactive accounts, those whose accounts have been memorialized or voluntarily deactivated. According to Facebook, this change has two primary benefits,

“Business results: Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives businesses up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences.”

“Consistency: We already filter out likes and comments generated by deactivated or memorialized accounts from individual Page posts, so this update keeps data consistent.”

Although you might have noticed a significant (or nonsignificant) drop in the number of your Page likes over the past few months, this change makes sure that your audience insights data displays an accurate representation of your current, active audience. Which, I would say, is a good thing. Inactive likes wouldn’t really count towards anything, right?

 

So, how do you deal with this change?

Well, you don’t really have to do anything! Facebook will continue to remove inactive accounts down the line as and when they notice any. And, if a deactivated account is reactivated at a later time, Facebook will once again re-add it to the Page’s like count.

 

The next three updates are a part of a major algorithm change facebook which could ultimately affect your organic reach (unfortunately, significantly).

 

3. Ability to see multiple posts from the same source (people and Pages) in a row

 

Earlier, Facebook had rules in place which wouldn’t allow you to see multiple posts from the same source (people and Pages) in a row. With this update, they are relaxing this rule.

Now, users (especially the ones who don’t see much content in their News Feeds) will start seeing a whole lot more. Below is an example of what this could look like. (Source: Purple Clover).

So, what this means is that people who like your Page and interact with your posts (I’m guessing frequently) may actually start seeing more of them in their News Feeds.

 

4. Higher priority on content posted by a user’s friends

 

Now, this is a rather significant change that could hurt your potential organic reach.

According to this update, Facebook will start placing a higher priority on the content posted by a user’s friends (photos, videos, status updates and links) so that they show up higher in the News Feed. It will still continue to show content from the Pages users like and care about but place them lower in the News Feed.

 

How can this affect your organic reach?

If the people who like your Page start engaging more with their friend’s posts (which is obviously more likely), they will start seeing more content from their friends and less from your Page in their News Feeds. I’m guessing not all is lost but they will probably have to scroll further down to see the content posted by your Page. At least, that’s what Facebook has to say,

“If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed. This update tries to make the balance of content the right one for each individual person.”

 

Before we move on to the next update, here are some recent stats on the state of organic reach (you know, the unpaid, un-promoted reach of your posts) on Facebook.

Organic reach may have fallen (albeit a lot since the inception of Facebook business Pages) but it’s not completely dead (at least not for now, although here’s some evidence suggesting that it’s demise is not that far away). But we’ll look on the brighter side for now.

 

According to a study conducted by Locowise, the average organic reach for Facebook Pages is about 7% and this number varies depending on the total number of likes for a Page.

  • Pages with less than 10,000 likes have an average organic reach of 11% (slightly higher).
  • Pages with 10,000 – 99, 999 likes have an average organic reach of 6%.
  • Pages with over 100, 000 likes have an average organic reach of 5%.

The study further reports that the organic reach of particular post types (photos, links, status updates, and videos) also varies depending on the total number of Page likes. For example, for Pages with less than 10,000 likes, links and photo posts average an organic reach of 32% and 11% respectively whereas for Pages with over 100, 000 likes these numbers drop to 15% and 5%.

Now, will this new update hurt organic reach even further? That, I don’t have an answer to right now!

It certainly could, given the fact that most people prefer to communicate and interact with their friends over business Pages on Facebook. And that could result in your content not showing up at all in your followers’ News Feeds.

The only assurance we have from Facebook is to continue posting things that people find meaningful and follow their best practices for driving referral traffic.

 

I recently wrote a post on how you can create unique and creative content to keep your audience engaged on Facebook. Check it out for some inspiration!

If that’s not enough 🙂 , here’s another post I wrote about creating and sharing your very own image quotes on social media (which work really well by the way in terms of engagement and shares). Check that out too!

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to create and upload videos directly onto Facebook, check out this tutorial. It’s really simple and helpful.

 

5. Lower priority on content liked and/or commented on by a user’s friends

 

This last update in the series could, again, potentially hurt your organic reach.

According to Facebook, many users are unhappy about seeing content liked and/or commented on by their friends in their News Feeds.

For example, you might have seen stories such as these in your own News Feed. (Source: Facebook).

Now, it could be from a Page which you like (you and your friend have Page likes in common) or from a completely unrelated Page (which you might love or loathe).

Looks like in most cases it has been rather loath-some! And Facebook doesn’t want to annoy its users by showing such content in their News Feeds.

According to this update, users will see such stories much lower in their News Feeds or not at all. Ouch! I know! That could hurt (A LOT actually).

 

The only positive outcome (and maybe, I’m being a little too positive here, but hey, we gotta keep on looking at the brighter side of things if we don’t have a whole lot to spend on Facebook advertising, right?) of this change could be that, now more people will get to see your content when it is shared by their friends directly on their timelines.

And because content shared by friends will show up higher in the News Feed, the chances of seeing shared content will be much greater than content which is liked or commented on. Bottom line, you gotta work (maybe even harder?) towards making your content share worthy to score a position in a user’s News Feed!

 

So that’s all folks! Those are the 5 changes that Facebook has come up with to keep things balanced, meaningful and accurate for now. Unfortunately, the last two don’t sound very fruity (some are even calling it the Facebookgeddon). But you gotta hope for the best! And keep posting valuable content to lure your followers into hitting that “Share” button to get the word out.

And now let’s head over to the infographic. But first, here is a brief summary of the points outlined in the infographic to help you grow your Facebook reach organically.

 

1. Use strategies followed by Fortune 500 companies

 

Here are the top 3 strategies followed by Fortune 500 companies to grow their Facebook organic reach,

  • Openness and disclosure, to show what goes on inside the company.
  • Accessibility, being available so that fans and customers can reach out and interact with the company.
  • Positivity, making a customer’s experience enjoyable and pleasant.

 

2. Post at non-peak times

 

This theory works under the assumption that when there’s less stuff being shared online, your content is more likely to stand out. This could be debatable, though. I say, try it out and see if it makes any difference to your organic reach!

 

3. Share original, behind the scenes photos of you and your team

 

When Buffer posted 5 photos of their team’s trip to South Africa, all 5 of them reached their top 10 posts within the 2 week period.

 

4. Engage with your community by asking questions

 

Ask questions and interact with your community. Don’t try to sell or promote your products/services. Your primary goal should be to listen to your audience.

 

5. Share self-explanatory photos

 

Share your information in an easy to digest format. Use pictographics and infographics.

 

[Infographic] How to improve your Facebook organic reach

 

What do you think about these new updates? Did you find the infographic helpful? Let me know in the comments below.