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The Social Marketers Guide to the Facebook Algorithm (2024)

Jamie Landry
May 19, 2023
Last Updated On
facebook algorithm blog header

Facebook has been a social media mainstay since 2004 and has quickly grown to be a regular part of the social marketers’ repertoire. Since then, the website has gone through its fair share of changes, which makes understanding the Facebook algorithm an essential part of any social marketers toolkit. 

In this article, we explore: 

  • What the Facebook algorithm is.
  • How the Facebook algorithm works. 
  • How Facebook’s algorithm has changed.
  • If you can reset the Facebook algorithm.
  • Tips to rank with the algorithm.
  • Words to avoid using on Facebook.
  • How Dash Hudson supports your Facebook strategy. 

What Is the Facebook Algorithm? 

The Facebook algorithm is a set of rules and mathematical equations that determine which content to show in a user’s feeds. Each user will see different content on their timeline, depending on who they follow and are friends with, but also the content they interact with most. This means that each algorithm is unique to the individual user. 

Brands that have a robust understanding of their audience can use personas and their knowledge of their target social demographic to develop content that will reach users. But how can brands do this? 

How Does the Facebook Algorithm Work? 

While we don’t have the exact equation Meta’s Facebook uses to surface content to users, we do have the questions and four basic categories they consider before determining which content to produce. 

These four categories include: 

  • Inventory: What content has been posted by friends and competitors? 
  • Signals: Who made this post? 
  • Predictions: Is this user likely to engage with the content? 
  • Score: Will users be interested in this post? 

How the Facebook Reels Algorithm Works

Although there isn't much information available about how the Facebook Reels algorithm, from what we know from Meta, it works very similarly to the general Facebook algorithm. The Reels algorithm uses AI-powered machine learning to determine which Reels content users want to see most based on past engagements and hidden or snoozed posts. 

How the Facebook Feed Algorithm Works

The Facebook Feed algorithm uses a set of rules, machine learning and AI to determine what content gets flagged and will resonate most with specific users. They call this ‘personalized ranking’.  

All About The Facebook Algorithm Change

In the nearly two decades it’s been around, the Facebook algorithm has undergone many changes. Before 2017, much of the algorithm was a mystery to users — but since then, Meta has become more transparent about how they decide which content to show you. 

Here are some of the highlights of how the algorithm has changed over the years: 

  • Borderline content in 2018: Facebook makes an effort to reduce content that violates community guidelines and phrases or content that come close. This includes political misinformation or potentially mature content. 
  • Meaningful Posts in 2018: The algorithm introduces a feature where posts with high engagement and conversation from friends are more likely to appear on your feed and aims to bring people together to have meaningful conversations.
  • Video Rankings in 2019: The algorithm introduces ranking updates for original videos to rank higher on relevant users’ feeds based on loyalty and intent, video and viewing durations and originality. 
  • Addressing sensational claims in 2019: The sensational claims update aims to improve information quality on users' feeds. This means eliminating misleading claims, particularly anything misleading about health information, and whether or not a post promotes something based on health-related claims. This aims to reduce inaccurate health information that can negatively impact users' lives. 
  • NEQ Update in 2020: After the spread of misinformation related to the election, Facebook introduced their ‘news ecosystem quality’ (NEQ) scores. The NEQ scores the quality and credibility of news outlets and aims to boost authoritative and fact-checked content in users’ News Feeds. 
  • Personalization introduced in 2021: In 2021, Facebook introduced surveys and tests asking users what content they want to see on their feeds. They also looked at content like Close Friends or Favorited to determine what content the algorithm should prioritize. 

Resetting Facebook Algorithm: Is It Possible?

Yes, users can technically ‘reset’ their Facebook algorithm. While some of this can be reset from your settings, the algorithm is still affected by you — the user — the most. If you’re constantly faced with content you deem uninteresting, you must make an effort to tell Facebook what you like and dislike seeing. This means using ‘Hide Post’ or ‘Snooze’ when you dislike a certain type of content and, conversely, liking, sharing and commenting on the content you do like. 

If you haphazardly like, share and engage with content you don’t truly like, Facebook will think you do — and show you more of it. 

But how do you change what appears on your feed each day? Whether you’re a brand or an individual who wants to see different content on your timeline, here’s how to ‘reset’ your algorithm on Facebook to switch up the content you see: 

  • Go to ‘Settings and Privacy’.
  • From there, select ‘Feed’.
  • Here, you can select which users’ content you’d like to change. Options include:
  1. Snooze: Mute posts from a user you want a break from but don’t wish to unfriend. 
  2. Unfollow: Permanently prevent a user or page’s content from appearing in your feed entirely without unfriending them.
  3. Reconnect: In ‘Settings and privacy’ — ‘Feed’, there will be a ‘Reconnect’ heading. Unfollowed users appear here, which you might wish to see on your feed again. 

To change the advertisements the algorithm shows you: 

  • Go to ‘Settings and privacy’.
  • Select ‘Settings’, then ‘Ads’. 
  • Navigate to ‘Ad Topics’ to customize the types of advertisements you do — and don’t want to see. 

5 Tips To Work With the Algorithm on Facebook 

We’ve discovered that the Facebook algorithm is highly dependent on the user itself — so how can brands work with the Facebook algorithm to ensure their content is seen by the people that matter most? 

Here are some tips for brands to improve their chances of being seen in Facebook’s algorithm. 

Understand Which Visuals Perform Best 

Engagement is ultimately one of the biggest contributors to success — when users share, like and comment on your content, this indicates that they are interested in not just this specific post but potentially your entire account. 

Brands should explore their engagement analytics and also revisit their content strategy before the campaign launches to see if there are opportunities to tweak their visuals and increase engagement. 

Tools like AI-powered Vision determine which visual content from your library has the best chance to perform — marketers can sort their content library by ‘Predicted Performance’, which automatically surfaces your best-predicted content and whether or not your paid, owned and earned media will be a top-performer, perform better than average or will perform lower than average. 

Understand Your Audience 

It’s important during any stage of your social strategy to have a robust understanding of who you want to reach and how. There are two groups of users it’s essential to understand: 

  • Existing audience: It’s vital to analyze your existing audience to see what resonates with them — retention is an important aspect of any social strategy. If you have an engaged audience, you risk losing them if you pivot too drastically or even if your current content becomes stale.  
  • Target audience: While your target audience might include users you already reach, depending on your brand objectives 

Fact-Check Information and Statistics 

We’d be remiss to discuss the Facebook algorithm without diving into misinformation on social media, and luckily, Facebook understands the importance of credible information. Posts and content with false data can slip through the cracks, but this does not mean brands should feel free to share statistics, data or even facts without verifying the source. 

Avoid Click-bait, Overpromising and Misleading Claims 

You’ve heard of clickbait, but are you familiar with engagement bait? If you hope to conquer the Facebook algorithm, you should be. 

Similar to clickbait, engagement bait explicitly uses persuasive phrases to encourage users to like, share or comment. For example, posts with captions akin to ‘Like this if you love red lipstick, share if you love pink lipstick’, are considered engagement baiting and will result in your post being demoted. 

Other forms of engagement baiting are: 

  • Comment baiting: Asking users to comment a specific word, phrase or emoji on a post.
  • Share baiting: Explicitly asking to share the post with users.
  • Tag baiting: Asking to tag others in the post.
  • Vote baiting: Encourage people to like or comment as a form of voting on a piece of content.

Facebook’s algorithm uses machine learning to determine which posts are engagement bait, so brands should avoid using these tactics in any of their Meta content. 

It’s worth noting that posts regarding missing people, cause-based fundraising and travel tips are not considered ‘engagement bait’ and are not negatively impacted by the algorithm. 

Familiarize Yourself With Meta’s Content Distribution Center Guidelines 

There’s no shortage of social media insights online, but it’s worth familiarizing yourself with Meta’s Content Distribution Center Guidelines. While they don’t offer every tip and trick for success, it’s a great way to determine which social tactics could hinder your Facebook performance. 

For example, thinking of a giveaway to garner engagement that explicitly asks people to comment for entry? Think again — marketers might need to reconsider the typical tactics they rely on based on insights from the Content Distribution Guidelines.

Optimize Your Profile and Posts

Don’t neglect Facebook SEO — optimizing your profile and posts to include popular keywords or answering popular questions is a great way to help your content break through the algorithm and even rank on traditional search engines like Google. Optimization also includes localization — are you a global entity, or do you have separate pages for different regions? Depending on your social strategy and your target region, understanding the needs of global vs. local Facebook pages is essential to reaching the most relevant users. 

Facebook Algorithm Words To Avoid 

While there’s not a long list of specific words and phrases to avoid using, there are some general concepts brands — and users — should avoid using on Facebook and social altogether. 

Brands should altogether avoid language that can be deemed as harassment, racism or bullying. If Facebook’s AI detects language they identify as harmful, you’ll receive a warning that the language used could be harmful — users then get another chance to alter their copy and keep their posts up. 

For brands concerned about community, moderators of pages can detail specific words and phrases they wish to block from their page. To do this:

  • Go to ‘Settings’.
  • Select ‘Page Moderation’. 
  • Type out the words and phrases you wish to block from your page, separated by commas.
  • Click ‘Save Changes’ — posts with these phrases will be automatically hidden. 

To simply block profanity from your page: 

  • Go to ‘Settings’.
  • Select ‘Profanity Filter’.
  • Choose between a ‘Medium’ or ‘Strong’ Profanity Filter. 
  • Click ‘Save Changes’ — posts with these phrases will be automatically hidden. 

Get Found on Facebook With Dash Hudson

Capture robust Facebook Insights and take your strategy and content to the next level with Dash Hudson’s end-to-end social tools. Dash Hudson supports your strategy from the planning and scheduling phase with our Scheduler tool, plus options to redistribute your best Facebook content to other channels. 

Facebook Algorithm FAQs

How can I improve my Facebook algorithm?  

Users can improve their Facebook algorithms by interacting with the content they truly enjoy and making a point to hide or snooze content they dislike. If you don’t interact with content at all — positive or negative — the Facebook algorithm doesn’t understand what type of content you’d like to see. Tell Facebook what you want to see, and they’ll make an effort to show you more of it. 

How to change the Facebook algorithm?

As we mentioned above, users wanting an immediate algorithm change should visit their ‘Settings’ section and snooze or hide content they dislike. From there, users can change their Facebook algorithm by hiding content they dislike and liking and sharing the content they do like. 

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