Facebook’s notorious algorithm undergoes another transformation to return to what it first promised: to connect you with friends.
When you hear the word ‘algorithm’, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with imagery of numbers, algebra and the cast of The Big Bang Theory. Sure the first two are correct, but these days you don’t see too many nerd stereotypes from the 1980s walking around Palo Alto, do you?
Facebook’s algorithm is one of the most famous mathematical processes in popular culture. Many of us imagine it as a faceless figure, laughing maniacally as it plucks the dog selfies out of your timeline and casts them into oblivion. While we can confirm it is faceless (it’s just code guys, not a demigod) it actually is trying to show you puppers rather than your ex-boyfriend’s new baby.
First launched in 2006 to create a central News Feed (which is now a pinnacle of the platform), the algorithm has been updated numerous times since Facebook exploded to over one billion users.
Back in 2006, Facebook users shared EVERYTHING. From what they were eating for lunch to how they felt after their latest break-up (life hack: DON’T be that person), oversharing was commonplace on the platform.
Fast forward to 2014 and people were well and truly over seeing everyone’s dirty laundry. So much so that the majority of users were no longer using Facebook as a place to share personal updates.
In order to keep information circulating, Facebook updated the algorithm to prioritise Pages. This made the News Feed show more content from companies, news sources and brands that people liked, rather than the latest photo album from your co-worker’s boring family holiday in Geelong.
From here, the algorithm was updated again with new calculations to reduce clickbait, monitor how long you were spending hovering over an update and to prioritise video content over other mediums, such as photos or text status updates.
Time hop to 2016 and we’re back to square one (but with a better smartphone). The News Feed is, once again, going to do what Facebook always claimed to do: connect you with your pals. This is great news for users, but what about advertisers?
The bad news is if you manage, or are trying to grow, a page with limited engagement and reach then this new update is going to affect your performance. Even Facebook’s VP of Product Management for News Feed, Adam Mosseri, admitted that “I’d expect reach for publishers to go down a small amount but a noticeable amount”.
To combat this problem, brands will have to turn to less sales-focused and click-driven content and think outside the box. Increasing discussion on your page, through methods such as engaging directly with your audience or word-of-mouth influencer marketing campaigns, are two ways to continue to improve reach and engagement without relying on the algorithm.
If you happen to manage a page that’s in the minority and enjoys high organic reach and engagement, then you should expect to see minimal disruptions.
What do you think the new algorithm has in store for your brand? Are you concerned? Share your thoughts in the comments below.