At the beginning of 2015 Facebook’s algorithm for the posts users see in their feeds was highly skewed toward brands and news outlets. In May of that year the social media giant changed the algorithm to instead favor posts from friends. This was bad news for content marketers who had been heavily reliant on Facebook ads and shares to successfully generate leads, raise brand awareness, and make sales.
Some of the statistics illustrate just how far of a reach content marketers had; clearly many had learned to work the system. For example, funny or mindless quizzes with no scientific foundation got millions of hits, shares, and comments. However, Facebook came under fire when marketing campaigns disguised as news became rampant. They changed the game.
In August of 2016 Facebook altered their algorithm to promote posts from friends and demote click bait and content regarded as viral. A little over a year later they went a step further, demoting posts that asked people to interact with content by liking, sharing or commenting. Demotions continued systematically through May of 2017 with Facebook surveying thousands users in an effort to find the sweet spot between quality content and ads.
Other contributing factors, such as misleading or false stories masquerading as news and a tidal wave of partisan political content meant to provoke anger, caused users to lose trust and interest in the platform. In a massive course correct, Facebook is now on a mission to encourage “meaningful interactions”. Although it’s still tweaking its algorithms, and will likely continue to commoditize social media, this is great news for nonprofits. Here’s why:
Making the Most of the New Algorithm
Facebook’s new algorithm combined with their mission to “do more good” means nonprofits will very likely have much wider exposure than before. It’s evident that helping nonprofits is part of their new strategy and culture. So how can you make the most of their intentions?
Avoid posting content that asks users to share, comment, or like. Instead, create content that sparks meaningful interactions and good discussion.
Any content you post should be measured against Mark Zuckerberg’s own words. He said “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”
Before you post content, ask yourself if it’s meaningful to your audience, if it connects people, and if it improves the wellbeing and happiness of your followers. If you play by Facebook’s new rules, you could see greatly increased reach and engagement.