The Facebook Algorithm: How Does It Work?

Out of all the mysterious terms swarming around social media, Facebook’s algorithm is one of the most popular. And most misunderstood. It controls how your business is seen on the platform, so it’s important to understand.

Just maybe not as important as some people may lead you to believe! If you focus on providing great content that your audience enjoys while monitoring what is and isn’t working, you can maximize the algorithm and limit the impact it has on your business. But first, let’s start with the basics.


Facebook Algorithm Basics

The most significant change to the Facebook algorithm was prioritizing friends over business pages. This decreased how many users see a business page’s posts, which impacts how much you can do on Facebook. This is guided by four factors:

  1. Inventory: How many posts are vying for a spot on a user’s feed.
  2. Signals: The features businesses control, like the type of content, when it was published, its purpose, and more.
  3. Predictions: Facebook’s expectation that a user will engage with the content.
  4. Score: The final number given to content based on the chances a user will respond to it.

Out of these four factors, there is only one that you can control: signals. So, let’s review how it impacts your business and what you can do about it.


How the Algorithm Impacts Your Business

Awareness about the Facebook algorithm is important because it impacts how people see your business on the platform. Because only an estimated 1-3% of your followers on Facebook see your content, it’s essential that you’re consistent across all posts. Always use the same tone of voice, share images that are consistent, and post on a similar schedule every week. A user may see a post on Monday, not see Wednesday’s, and then see Friday’s.

To ensure they have an accurate perception of your company, each of those posts need to be consistent. You never know what posts each follower will see.

Now it’s time to cover what you really came here for: how to maximize the algorithm.



5 Ways to Maximize the Algorithm

We don’t like the term “beat the algorithm”, because that’s never truly possible. Instead, we like to think of this as maximizing the algorithm. These are five best practices to improve your performance on Facebook by working with it, not against it.

1. Start Conversations & Promote Engagement

The best way to improve your content’s performance is to make your page look desirable through posting engaging content. This can include asking questions, running polls, and latching on to holidays and other well-known events.

By improving engagement like comments, likes, and shares, you can improve the chances that your content will be shown.

2. Always Ask, “Does My Audience Care?”

The biggest downfall we see companies making on social media is sharing content that doesn’t matter to their audience. You can’t maximize the algorithm if you’re making it about yourself! Social media is all about being social, which means you need to focus on what your audience cares about.

Consider your ideal customer’s lifestyle, needs, desires, and questions they have about your product or service. Then, share content that meets each of those points. Once your audience begins to care about the content you’re sharing, they’ll begin to engage and lift your content within the Facebook algorithm.

3. Promote What Performs Well Organically

Another way to work with the Facebook algorithm is to put your ad budget behind what is already performing well organically on your page. (Organic means there was no money spent on boosting it.) You’ve tested it with your audience to determine if it’s working, so now it’s time to put it in hyperdrive.

There’s a caveat to this, though. It’s important to run this as an actual Facebook Ads campaign instead of boosting the post. Once you boost a post, Facebook will begin significantly decreasing your organic reach to encourage you to continue boosting.

If you launch a traffic campaign, though, there is more separation between organic and paid so you can drive people to your website through already high-performing content without impacting your future organic engagement.

You will still see an increase in impressions and reach when running Facebook Ads campaigns, but we haven’t seen as significant of an impact to organic posts compared to boosting.

4. Never Use Clickbait

You know the headlines. The ones that say “you won’t believe what [insert actress name] is doing now,” or “follow these five steps to better health”. These are clickbait, and using it in your ads will negatively impact your campaign performance.

Including “please like, comment, and share” is also a one-way trip to the Facebook algorithm no man’s land. Wait, so how do you get engagement if you don’t ask? By focusing on content that your ideal customer is already interested in. People will engage with what they care about without being asked.

Focus on content that touches users where they care, even if it’s not specifically related to your product.

5. Monitor Performance & Update as Needed

This is the most important point of them all. Once you test out content to maximize the algorithm for your business, it’s time to measure. We recommend reviewing your page performance monthly, at a minimum. This gives you a chance to see trends rather than putting too much focus on one piece of content over another. It all plays together to improve your page.

While you’re reviewing your page’s performance, look at the types of posts with more engagement. Are they images? Videos? Text with a link to a blog post? Next, see if there’s a type of post or specific topic that continually doesn’t bring as much engagement or traffic.

One post is an outlier, while multiple posts is a trend to watch.

Once you get an idea of what is performing well and what needs to change, you can better shape the content you share to maximize Facebook’s algorithm for your business.

You Can Make Facebook Work For Your Business

We hope this post clarified some of the mysterious nature around Facebook’s algorithm. Ultimately, we always recommend focusing on high-quality content that is relevant to your audience. By following these five tips to maximize the algorithm, you should begin to see greater success on the platform for your business.

If you’re ready to start maximizing your content and the Facebook algorithm, let’s talk. Our social media strategists are ready to discuss how we can help your business succeed on social media. Give us a call at (415) 640-8009 or drop us a line.

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.