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How the Facebook Algorithm Works

The Facebook algorithm is made up of four main ranking signals: recency, popularity, content type, and relationship.

‘’why do our organic Facebook numbers so bad?” – How often do you hear those words in your organisation?

According to renowned Social Media expert at Hootsuite Paige Cooper, the answer is the algorithm. She continues:

First, let’s look at some benchmarks.

As of the end of 2020, organic reach is still on the decline. The average reach for an organic Facebook post is down to 5.2%. (For the record, at the end of 2019 it was 5.5%, and the year before that it was 7.7%).

Meanwhile, the average engagement rate in 2020 for an organic Facebook post was 0.25%. That number drops to 0.08% for those of you with more than 100k followers.

These numbers should make everyone feel a little bit better – The algorithm can be pretty tough on branded organic Facebook content.

But every Facebook marketing strategy needs both organic and paid content, which means it’s time to buckle up and figure out what this complex, mysterious galaxy brain wants us social media managers to do.

What is the Facebook algorithm?

The Facebook algorithm decides which posts people see every time they check their Facebook feed, and in what order those posts show up. For its part, Facebook would like to remind us that there is no single algorithm, but rather “multiple layers of machine learning models and rankings,” built to predict which posts will be “most valuable and meaningful to an individual over the long term.”

In other words, instead of presenting every available Facebook post in chronological order, the Facebook algorithm evaluates every post, scores it, and then arranges it in descending order of interest for each individual user. This process happens every time a user—and there are 2.7 billion of them—refreshes their newsfeed.

While we don’t know all the details of how the Facebook algorithm decides what to show people (and what not to show people) we do know that—like all social media recommendation algorithms—one of its goals is to keep people scrolling, so that they see more ads.

What does this mean for brands?

When it comes to earning more organic reach, the Facebook algorithm will reward you for posting content that people engage with.

A brief history of the Facebook algorithm

The Facebook algorithm isn’t static; engineers are constantly tinkering with it.

To make its predictions, the algorithm uses thousands of data points, a.k.a. ranking signals. Over the years, ranking signals have been added, removed, and had their importance adjusted, depending on what Facebook thinks users want to see.

Here are some of the more notable changes.

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