Facebook: The Constant Quest to Beat the Algorithm

Originally published on The Herd Brand

Have you ever heard of the Facebook algorithm? If not, let me break it down for you: the Facebook algorithm is 1) the reason your news feed isn’t in chronological order, 2) determines what you see and when you see it, and 3) the marketer’s worst nightmare. In less simplified terms, the Facebook algorithm is the way in which Mark Zuckerberg and the folks at Facebook control the flow of information you see as you scroll through Facebook. Granted, the intentions of the algorithm are good- they’re to keep you from being overwhelmed and to show you what Facebook believes matters most to you- but that doesn’t mean it actually works.

One week ago, Facebook announced that they would once again be changing the way that people consumed information in their news feed. Once more, Facebook is pushing brands to the side in favor of bringing your friends and family to the top of the news feed (including what they’ve commented on, liked, and shared). That sounds great, doesn’t it? 

If you manage a Facebook page, you’re already slim reach is about to shrink even more. After all, a year ago on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Facebook page (a page I manage through my role with NCBA) had just 80,000 followers, but had the ability to reach 250,000 people on a weekly basis. Today, with over 100,000 followers, our weekly reach remains relatively steady at 80,000. With the new changes, we could see a reach of only 60,000 per week or less.

So, unless your budget for social media increases significantly, chances are you won’t be able to beat the algorithm consistently. However, instead of aiming for that unachievable goal of beating the Facebook algorithm, how can you mitigate its effect and still get your message out there?

Invest in a Website (And Publicize It!)

First things first, if your company doesn’t have a website, but instead only uses Facebook and your social media platforms to communicate to your audience, then you’re about to feel the pain more so than those who do have websites. Take the time to invest in your company. A website is so much more detailed than social media, and can help push a potential customer in favor of spending their money on your product or learning about your story.

Without a website, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. And if you do have a website, but you haven’t been promoting it in your social media posts, you may want to reconsider that. As the reach of your Facebook page decreases, familiarizing your audience with your website is an incredibly important task. After all, what if your brand name isn’t unique enough to get you to the top of Google’s search bar? I hope that isn’t the case, but I’ve seen it happen. If people can’t find you on page one of Google, then you’re going to need to make sure they know your website well enough to type it in when they search for you.

Gather a Loyal Group of Influencers

If you’ve already got a website and you’re promoting it on your social media platforms, then how else can you mitigate the effects of the Facebook algorithm? Did you know that 30% of people say they are more likely to buy a product if it’s promoted by a blogger?

Influencer marketing has made leaps and bounds in certain industries, and, guess what? You’ve probably been influenced to make a purchase for a company’s product based on a review written by an influencer before. You probably just didn’t realize it. Or, if you did, you trusted the person based on content you previously had read or seen from them, which made you accept their word as law when they told you the product you were interested in was worthwhile.

Throughout the past two years with NCBA, I have had the opportunity to work with our Cattle Industry Convention Marketing Ambassadors (a brand ambassador is just another way of saying influencer marketing), and I can guarantee that they have had an impact on selling registrations to the annual Cattle Con. In fact, they’ve reached people who may not have considered attending before through their personal social media platforms (building brand awareness), and through attending industry events.

Brand ambassadors are just regular people like you and me that love the company or organization they’re representing. They may not hold a title or actually work for the company, but that’s what makes them so much more valuable. Creating a group of loyal influencers means having boots on the ground so to speak when you need content shared across social media, thus mitigating the impact of the Facebook algorithm.

While the constant quest to beat the Facebook algorithm may be a challenge, there are ways to ease the pain. So, before Facebook becomes a fully pay-to-play game for businesses, make sure you’ve set yourself up with a proper website (and make sure it’s mobile friendly- this is 2018 after all), and start collecting a group of loyal brand ambassadors who will support your cause.