With more than 2 billion active users, Facebook has no shortage of content and posts to sort through.
With so much content to sort through, the Facebook algorithm is what you can thank for seeing the content you care about when you scroll your Facebook feed.
In this article, we will cover what the Facebook algorithm is, how the algorithm works, and what you can do to make the algorithm work in your favor.
Learning About the Facebook Algorithm
An algorithm is “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.”
What is the Facebook Algorithm?
The Facebook algorithm is an algorithm designed to curate which posts Facebook users see every time they check their Facebook feed, and in what order those posts are displayed.
While it is referred to as a single entity, the Facebook algorithm is actually the combination of several different ranking factors and layers of information that inform the algorithm how it should rank content.
Machine Learning and the Facebook Algorithm
This is known as machine learning (ML), and without it, people’s feeds could be overrun with content they don’t find as relevant or interesting, including overly promotional content or content from Facebook friends who post frequently. If that kind of content was allowed to make it through, it can bury the content from the people they’re closest to.
The Facebook algorithm and the ranking of posts exist to solve these problems so that people see the content they care about on their news feeds first, instead of finding it buried amidst all other posts as they scroll their feed.
How Does the Facebook Algorithm Work?
Now that we know the Facebook algorithm is actually a combination of several different algorithms, let’s take a look at the things those algorithms take into consideration when ranking posts.
Facebook’s algorithm for ranking content on your News Feed is based on four factors. Those four factors are:
Inventory refers to the entirety of content available that could be displayed on a Facebook user’s news feed. It consists of everything posted from friends and other publishing parties.
This inventory changes and fluctuates based on user activity once the user has begun scrolling.
The word signals is used to indicate what information Facebook is able to gather about a post or piece of content, and they are the only ranking factor that you have any control over.
When you create a piece of content, signals are pulled from the information you input, such as type of content, who published it, how old it is, what its purpose is, and more.
Signals are broken down into two categories: passive and active signals.
Active signals are those which prompt engagement. These signals include things such as likes, shares, comments and replies. Active signals drive meaningful interactions, which the Facebook algorithm values the highest.
Passive signals include factors such as story type, view time, time posted, etc.
When creating content, your goal should be for it to signal to Facebook that it is both meaningful and relevant to your target audience.
Predictions relate to the likelihood that someone will positively favor a piece of content. They are made by taking into account the behavior of a particular user and how likely they are to engage with a piece of content and have a positive interaction with it.
These predictions are a result of examining a piece of content for the amount of authentic engagement it receives, such as comments, likes, shares, and more from real profiles.
The final ranking factor of the Facebook algorithm is the relevancy score, which is a final number given to a piece of content. This score is based on how likely or unlikely a user is to respond positively to the post.
How to Make the Facebook Algorithm Work for You
Understanding the ranking factors that make up the Facebook algorithm is a key part of knowing how to make the algorithm work in your favor.
Unfortunately, if you are hoping to outsmart the algorithm, that’s not really an option. The Facebook algorithm is advanced and sophisticated enough that there’s no way users can “hack it.”
While the algorithm is too smart to let you beat it, there are still some simple steps you can take to make it work for you, which we cover below.
Keep Content Meaningful
As we covered above, the Facebook algorithm places the highest value on meaningful interactions, so a great way to appeal to the algorithm is by posting content that encourages positive interactions between your followers and other Facebook users.
Aim to be a conversation starter. Post content that is designed to make Facebook users stop scrolling, interact with it, and share it with their friends. If your content can provoke conversation, it should do well in the Facebook algorithm.
Appeal to Your Audience
All the content you create and share should always be relevant to your core audience. The more your content appeals to your audience, the more likely they are to share it with others, which leads to meaningful interactions.
Since this is the group of people you want to build a community around, focus on creating content that appeals to those that follow you.
If you focus on creating quality content, meaningful interactions should come organically, so focus on that instead of trying to trick others into engaging with your content.
Stay away from posts that could be considered clickbait or “engagement baiting.” If you post content that aims to get users to click on it without adding any real value or interaction for them, the Facebook algorithm is going to punish you.
You will see plenty of posts that request that you “like, comment, and share.” Try to avoid doing this. If you are posting quality content, chances are your audience will engage with it naturally,
Boost Your Best-Performing Organic Content
We know that the Facebook algorithm places high value on posts and content that perform well organically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some fuel to the fire.
Build off the momentum of your best-performing organic posts by putting some money behind them.
If you have organic content that is doing well, consider using some advertising money to boost and promote it. If it is doing well organically, it will likely continue to do well when exposed to a larger audience.
On the flip side, if content is not doing well, don’t waste your advertising budget trying to elevate it.
Last but certainly not least, be sure to track your content performance.
Once you have posted content, don’t forget to track and measure its performance within the Facebook Insights tool.
Use the tool to keep track of how different pieces of content are doing in terms of engagements and interactions, and use those insights to refine your content and post strategy.
With so much content on Facebook, the Facebook algorithm is what makes sure we see the content that matters most to us.
Unfortunately, it is too smart for us to be able to beat it or work around it. But by understanding how the algorithm works, what it considers valuable, and the ways you can create and share content that appeals to it, it is possible to make it work for you.
At the end of the day, your focus should be on creating quality content and allowing it to speak for itself.
If you need some tips on how to create content that resonates, check out our 13 Best Content Writing Tips.