The Facebook & Instagram Algorithm Demystified And How To Conquer It
Imagine this scenario.
You’re happily sharing your content and creating ads on Facebook and Instagram that your audience loves and gathers to their collective bosoms.
Life is sweet…until your reach and engagement takes a nosedive leading you to panic and believe “Algorithm Armageddon” has spanked your accounts.
But is it fair to blame it on the algorithm?
Let’s take a look at what the algorithm actually is and how you can work with it rather than against it.
What is the algorithm?
Think of the algorithm as a puppy that was created in order to please people. It’s all about the user experience. It basically takes data points from the user; what they care about, what their interests are, and in all its eagerness, fetches and drops in the feed content they like to see.
This helps in creating the best possible newsfeed experience for them to keep them on the platforms for longer.
The longer they spend glued to the platform, they can be served ads and Facebook makes more money. So it’s in everyone’s interest to prioritise user experience.
If you’ve been dabbling in ads for a while, you may have seen costs rise dramatically for most people; your ads are not reaching the expected audiences and CPM’s are skyrocketing costing you more to reach the same number of people year on year.
There is a big reason for it, 2018. The year Facebook would rather forget.
2018 was a tough year for Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Fake news Data breaches and GDPR laws introduced across Europe. Facebook lost a lot of credibility and trust with users and that is a BIG problem.
Facebook wants people to trust and use their platform.
No users equals no advertisers, and Facebook isn’t foolish enough to bite the hand that feeds it.
Getting back into the users’ good books is the number 1 priority, with trust and transparency being the mantra we hear about all over the shop. The response is to purge the platforms of undesirable behaviour (fake news, bad-actors, overselling and people taking offence)
For now, the algorithm is all about people getting the best user experience, making them feel their time is valued and providing “meaningful interactions” which has always been what it was designed to do all along.
What’s the Cause and The Cure?
So, if you’ve been seeing a big drop, it could be down to the following
Your posting schedule – If you have not been posting enough or posting too much. Too little posting your page may be flagged as inactive and your reach cut and too much, you may be flagged as spammy. The only caveat to that is if you have an engagement that is usually off the hook, then you can jolly well post as often as you want!
Competition – If you share the same followers with others who in essence “do the same thing” as you in your niche, and they stepped up their marketing strategy and are killing the game, the algorithm will show their content more instead.
Content – Your audience simply DNGAF about your content, they simply don’t connect with it. Facebook/Instagram will see your engagement is down. Your Insights will give you a view if they have been in steady decline.
Keywords – You started using forbidden keywords that the algorithm does not like. Calls to action such as “like/comment/share my post” makes the algorithm go mental and subdue your reach. When using Instagram ensure you do regular keyword research and you are actually tagging the right audience. If it’s not relevant to them, they won’t care for your content.
Engagement Pods – Bit controversial here, but bear with me. In some instances, engagement pods DO work but the majority are goat poo. When you have a whole heap of disconnected people from the audience you are trying to reach suddenly start liking your page, you’re basically feeding the algorithm with poor data and it can’t optimise properly. Plus you might get a few spambots coming in. This creates the perfect storm for your reach being cut.
The cure is simple. Simply produce really good content!
Stop being too “salesy”. It might come as a big surprise, but people hate being sold to on social media. Imagine walking into a shop and having the salesperson chase you through the aisle screaming “buy my shizzle!”. Don’t be that fool. Instead, engage with your audience like the humans they are, tell a good story and entertain them whilst casually introducing your product or service and how it can help them. Make it all about THEM.
Talk like a real person, not like an infomercial. If someone spoke like that in real life, well that would be weird. Go to Facebook and Instagram accounts from brands you love, and I can bet their tone is more conversational.
Ask great questions. Not “how much are you willing to spend in my store”, but “what was the worst fashion mistake you’ve ever made” if you’re a clothing store or “what was your favourite toy as a child” if you sell toys. Ask for their opinions about new product developments, use polls asking which of your products are their favourite.
The name of the game is to keep your audience engaged and online. The more they love your content, the more they will stay and interact with you. Keep that in mind, and you can make the algorithm work for you instead of against you.