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:
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?
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:
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.
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’.
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:
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:
To change the advertisements the algorithm shows you:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
To simply block profanity from your page:
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.
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.
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.