Is the Facebook Algorithm Is Out to Get You?

Understanding The Facebook Algorithm Windy Lawson

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Dear Sister #BossBabe, Facebook isn’t out to get you. The Facebook algorithm isn’t suppressing your reach. You are! I’m willing to bet a dollar that your declining reach on Facebook has more to do with how you use the platform than whatever Algorithm-Conspiracy-Of-The-Week you’ve heard.

Using a social media marketing strategy is a staple for the microbusiness owner. It’s free-fifty-free, and there are no barriers to entry. Anyone can create a Facebook personal profile and a business page. You can post to your heart’s content, giving you a megaphone to promote your business.

Yay.

But, having a megaphone doesn’t mean people have to listen to you. Facebook {or any other platform, for that matter} gives you access. They provide the megaphone. It’s up to you to make the message enjoyable, so people want to listen. If you don’t, they won’t.

“But, the algorithm…”

Okay, let’s break this down.

An algorithm is a procedure to solve a mathematical problem.

So, what mathematical problem is Facebook attempting to solve? Since their goal is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible, the mathematical problem is which content is most likely to generate engagement. Which piece of content is most likely to keep the users on the platform longer?

Consider this: Every 60 seconds, 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, 4 million posts are liked, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

Every second, of every minute, of every day.

At any given moment, the average user has 1,500 pieces of content that could be available in their feed.

So, Facebook uses the algorithm to provide the user with the specific content it deems most likely to keep them on the platform. And how does the algorithm do that? By looking at what the user has previously interacted with before.

If Aunt Cathy always likes your posts, Aunt Cathy will continue seeing your posts.

Given the sheer volume of activity that occurs every second, it is impossible for everyone connected with you to see your posts immediately. So, when you post something, a small sample of our audience is exposed to it. And how that sample engages with your content determines how many other people will be exposed to the content.

If no one engages with the content, off it goes to the content graveyard. Not because Facebook hates you, because its users have shown that they don’t care about it.

It’s not Facebook; it’s your content.

The Mistake That Started It All

More Followers/More Friends = More Sales

It’s logical to think that the more friends or followers you have, the more people will be exposed to your message, and the more sales you will have. If your marketing involved standing on a street corner waving a sign for your business, you’d pick a busy intersection in the heart of town and not the end of a cul-de-sac in your subdivision.

But, leveraging a social media strategy isn’t a numbers game. Focusing on vanity metrics- likes and follows-without measuring engagement is the fast path to crushing your reach.

Jumping on a like ladder for your Facebook page {like my page and I’ll like yours back} and friend requesting people from your networking group- is working against you. You are filling up your followers with people who don’t actually care about you, your business, or your message. When you post, they don’t interact, which gives Facebook a thumbs down on your content.

Even if they do care, your post is one of 1,500 other pieces of content that will cross their newsfeed. If it’s just another generic ‘BUY THIS’ post, they’ll tune out.

With every post, you are suppressing your reach a little more. Not Facebook, you.

It sucks, right? Because you are doing exactly what the gurus told you to do. Go get a bunch of followers/friends and post about your business every day.

Three Tips on Working with the Facebook Algorithm

Once you understand how the algorithm works, you can work with it, instead of shaking your fists at the sky, bemoaning how unfair it is. 

#1: When to Post

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy mistake to make. Post when your audience is most likely to be online, and you are able to interact with them. If your audience is most likely to be online at 9pm, but that’s when you take your bubble bath {kudos, sister}, that’s not the best time to post. You don’t need to be online for hours after you post, but at a minimum you want to be available to interact with the initial engagements. Don’t post and ghost.  

#2: What to Post 

Post an assortment of messages and media types. No one wants to see ads all day long, so your content strategy should include a mix of connection, education, and promotion posts delivered through a mix of video, images, and text posts. Variety is the spice of life, baby. 

#3: Ditch Dead Weight 

Whether it’s a group, your personal profile, or a page, it’s time to clean house if you are drowning in deadweight. Get rid of all the accounts that you aren’t truly connected to:

  • “Friends” you don’t know,
  • Group members who have been silently lurking in the shadows for a year, 
  • Page fans who live somewhere that makes doing business with them impossible. 

By ditching the dead weight, using a variety of posts, and adjusting your posting schedule, you can stop suppressing your reach.

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