If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em: 4 ways to hack Facebook algorithms in 2019

No matter how popular a social media platform might be, Facebook will always trump them all. It was the first social network that swept the world off of its feet. The popularity of Facebook lies in the fact that young people, parents, grandparents, and even cute labrador Coco can create their profiles and gain traction.

Other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat appeal to a younger audience. Not everyone is opinionated enough to have a Twitter account. And not everyone needs to form professional connections on LinkedIn. YouTube and Whatsapp are equally popular but their purpose is entirely different to that of Facebook.

You can see the popularity of different social media platforms as of October 2018, from this graph plucked from Statista.

facebook-statistics

Facebook, very clearly and expectedly, takes the crown.

Here’s how Facebook is being logged into people’s lives and affecting them:

  • 1.47 billion people log into Facebook daily.
  • 66% of monthly users use it daily.
  • 200 million people are part of meaningful Facebook groups that add value to their online experience.
  • Facebook acts as a great portal of discovery with 78% of American consumers finding new stuff to buy through the platform.
  • 150 million people are using Facebook stories.
  • 400 new users sign up on Facebook every minute.
  • Over 1.2 billion people are active on Facebook Messenger monthly.
  • Number 1 platform for adults.

These numbers, capped off by the fact that 22% of the world’s population uses Facebook, makes it the perfect social media channel for brands, advertisers, and marketers to expand their customer base and deepen connections with the existing one.

Facebook and its algorithms in 2019

In 2019, Facebook is going to implement changes to give priority to the agenda it decided upon in 2018- rank up posts that provide users with more meaningful social interactions. In view of the same, you can expect the following changes in your Facebook experience:

More posts from friends and family in your feed

The first and most natural pitstops for meaningful social interactions online are, of course, the posts from your friends and families. Because of already-established connections, you are more likely to comment with a witty one-liner or react with hearts as your eyes.

For marketers, brands, and advertisers, this is not joyful news since public content- posted by businesses, brands, and the media- will appear much later in the feed. And for this type of content to even rank up, it should score in Facebook’s area of focus- meaningful interaction. You can choose to view this organic/ unpaid content high up on the feed through the ‘Se First’ option in the News Preferenced tab. Paid posts and ads will remain unaffected.

Let’s dive deeper into what meaningful interaction means exactly so you can curate profiles, pages, posts that naturally inspire these.

First off, a post with less/ 0 reactions, likes, comments will be pushed to the bottom of the pile. More active interactions like commenting, sharing, and reacting will boost the reach of your posts. Simply hovering, watching, or clicking is not sufficient.

Be warned, though, that using engagement baits will actually do more harm than good. Urging people to like/ share/ comment on your posts is an immoral activity in the eyes of the updated algorithm. The punishment would be in the form of a lower ranking.

Commenting is the most favorably looked upon way for fostering meaningful interactions. Here, the length of the comments also carry some weight. Post commenting, the algorithm will look at how much the post is shared- publicly and privately- and the amount of conversations it has generated.

If you share a post from ContentNinja’s Facebook page in your feed or with your friend (through FB Messenger), and the friend engages with the post through comments, likes, or further sharing, then that post will be shown to other people, thus increasing its reach.

Finally, we have reactions. Not everyone is into sharing or commenting on every post that they like. In such a scenario, reactions are a great way to gauge the interactivity value of a post.

More emphasis on groups

Groups are a major part of the Facebook experience. As per the number indicated above, about 200 million people are a part of groups, and 100 million people think of them as the most crucial aspect of their experience. These groups are like hotspots of some of the most meaningful, active interactions in the world. Which is exactly what Facebook wants Facebook to be all out.

Video content on the rise

video-marketing-trends-2019

It’s not just on Facebook; video content is on the rise everywhere (Check out our post on 2019 Video Marketing trends here). Here are a few Facebook-specific numbers:

  • 150 million people are using Facebook stories.
  • The number of watches for Facebook Live videos quadrupled within a year.
  • Brand awareness increases by 67% through mobile-optimized Facebook videos.
  • Videos have the highest engagement rate.
  • On an average, 8 billion daily video views are garnered on Facebook.

Videos have consistently been on the rise since mid-2017. The upward trend will continue in 2019 as well.

Focus on local content

Zuckerberg’s motive behind making local stories and news appear higher in the feed was: local stories encourage people to be more involved in their communities. The ‘See First’ feature is applicable here, too, and if you don’t want local updates at the top, you can choose to see the national and international ones.

By default, however, stories from local publishers will appear at the top with local publishers being the ones that are ‘clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area’. 

How to work with the algorithm

Follow principles of meaningful interaction

A really broad area, but the foundation stone is this: create content that sparks conversations. Since those in people’s private circle will be getting precedence over business content, the advertising/ marketing/ branding content that you do post needs to be the match that strikes up engagement. Facebook wants to do away with passive consumption of content online.

Weave storytelling into your posts. Incorporate human elements. Create content for people and not to build your brand. Know their needs, motivations, pain points, and then seek to provide solutions.

Steer clear of engagement baits. Wherever possible, use visuals. Wherever possible, convey your message in the least amount of words. People check Facebook various times a day, but each check-in lasts 10-15 minutes. This means you have a very short window of time in which to grab your customer’s attention. Make the most of that window.

The important thing is not to ascend in the algorithm’s rating but in people’s preference for you. Once they feel the value of your content, they’ll automatically pick up the mantle for taking your content forward.

Build an active community

facebook-community

Through the use of groups, niche communities pertaining to your brand can be built. Apart from participating in group conversations, the members of this community are much more likely to keep engaging with your posts and sharing them which results in a higher reach for your organic content. The size doesn’t matter here. If your community is truly engaged, they’ll share your posts, leave comments/ feedback, and (maybe) without even meaning to, promote your content. Send them all a chocolate if you can!

Go visual

The value of videos cannot be downplayed. In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will be mostly video in 5 years. Although the deadline still hasn’t been met, there is no doubt with regards to the fact that users are increasingly preferring videos.

Hence, give the users what they want (43% of them would like to see more videos from marketers). Live videos draw 3 times more engagement than regular videos. Use a combination of both live and non-live videos to engage a wider segment of your audience and spark conversations. Facebook Stories and Facebook Watch are great tools, too.

Go local

If you look at it properly, local content is also niche content- the same kind of content that builds and sustains a group. This type of content has a higher chance of getting engagement. Since it will be relevant to your friends and family as well, you can share it with them. If they comment on the post themselves or share it further on their page, the post gets a wider reach and continues to scale up from there.

The long and short of it is: you do not need to panic over the new changes introduced because of the algorithms. Sure, there would be a bumpy phase, but that is the common outlook whenever there is an ongoing shift in the market. All of the marketing/ branding/ advertising strategies in our pockets, adapt. You’ll be able to adapt and thrive with these new algorithm changes, too. 

What are your thoughts? Tell us in comments below or email to us at contact@contentninja.in.

Mayank Gulati

Unhappy with the concept of 5 working days a week, Mayank Gulati started his own Marketing Communications firm. He now works 7 days a week, where he wears many, many hats (and a neck brace). An unfortunate engineer, he founded a med-tech startup that was inducted into Nasscom 10k. He’s now decided to stop asking people to invest in his company, and get them to invest in their own.