Facebook Algorithm Updates - How Do They Affect Small Businesses

Updated: Jan 6

Facebook algorithm updates 2020
Facebook algorithm updates 2020

2.6 billion. Yes, you read that right. There are more than 2.6 billion active users that make their way onto Facebook every month. Whether it’s for mindless hours of scrolling or checking up on friends and family members, billions of people use Facebook every month.

That is one reason millions of businesses, big and small, include Facebook in their digital marketing strategy. It’s a basic game plan strategy. It’s a platform that is both free and rife with opportunities to connect with your target audience.

However, digital marketing aficionados and experts understand that it’s not just simple Facebook posts that gain businesses the right amount of traction. There are various aspects of Facebook’s algorithm to keep up with in order to be effective.

The Complexity of the Facebook Algorithm

There are certain nuances – and honestly, complexities – when it comes to the Facebook algorithm. Besides the team who designs and updates them at the backend, and Mark Zuckerberg, there are a few people with a complete understanding of how it works.

Regardless, marketers who don’t keep up with the changes in the algorithm can risk losing out on the opportunity of getting their posts and ads to their targeted audience – which is nothing short of negative ROI.

What’s Been Happening Up Until Now?

Going back two years, 2018 was quite an eventful year for the Facebook Algorithm. There were some changes made that created some outrage among marketers. The reason was a dip in organic reach, which declined.

The trend continued to the next year as the platform saw a 2.2% decrease in audience reach. Along with the previous changes in the algorithm, Facebook’s continuously increasing audience feeds into the competition’s brands.

Since then, there have been updates made to make user experiences more transparent. Before this change, Zuckerberg had announced changes that were aimed at increased “meaningful conversations and engagement”. This means that posts that had surmounting engagement – good or bad – got more traction and screen time.

According to a Neiman Lab report published in 2019, this particular change was a driver for a ballpark figure of a 50% increase in engagement. However, there is a catch. This increased engagement also ended up promoting content that instigated outrage. This culminated in sensationalist, borderline content i.e. “fake news” and content from unreliable sources that relied on “click-baiting”.

Facebook Algorithm Updates in 2020

As we make headway into the turn of the decade, Facebook has – yet again – made some changes to the algorithm that change how users see posts. Here are some of the most important details marketers need to be aware of to ensure they oblige to the best practices and also effectively deliver.

These can be critical in helping design better campaigns and reaching potential customers organically.

Ranking Signals

The posts that individuals see on their timelines are displayed based on various ranking factors. These include: the type of content individuals interact with i.e. images, text posts, videos, etc.; who the posts are coming from i.e. friends, family, pages, advertisers, etc.; and the level of engagement on the post.

Extrapolating data from these insights, the Facebook algorithm aims to create more meaningful interactions.

Filtering Low-Quality Content

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been pivotal in driving Facebook’s success. The algorithm in 2020 will use these to filter our sensational content that reads like spam.

· Clickbait or engagement bait content

· Fake news articles

· Deepfake videos

· Misleading and unauthentic medical advisory posts

· Offensive content that plays with Facebook’s guidelines

· Links to scraped content, etc.

These will all lead to downranking.

The combination of this and the previous update may lead to a dip in organic reach for many brands. However, there are ways businesses can navigate their way around these changes with a smart strategy.

Authentic, resourceful and relevant content that entices meaningful engagement is the way to go.

The Impact of Personalization

Personalization seems to be the agenda on algorithm design for all social media platforms. In 2019, Facebook unveiled a change that has a huge impact on how audiences receive content.

To make timelines or News Feeds personalized to individual preferences, Facebook added surveys. With one click of a button users can:

· Check why they are seeing a post

· Tell if and how interested they are in the post

· Tell whether the content is relevant

· And tell whether they would like to see similar content from the specific page or group

These analytics help the algorithm make predictions as to what kind of content the user would like to see.

Businesses can rely on these insights to learn more about their audiences and their Facebook usage habits. This will help them create better ads and posts.

Video Comes First

Native videos on Facebook have 8.7% more reach compared to other types of content. This has led to businesses posting more video content on their pages.

Facebook’s algorithm changes how audiences see this video content on their News Feeds. In 2019 Facebook made a change to its algorithm that renewed how it ranks videos.

The factors that now count are loyalty and intent. Videos that people intentionally search for and come back to, will be ranked higher – quite understandably.

Here, the challenge for businesses is to create original video content that is around 3 minutes in length and engages audiences. Also, it turns out that 82% of users watch Facebook videos without audio. This means that captions are necessary. In fact, they can lead to up to a whopping 367% increment in engagement.

Limiting Ad Volume API

As a part of its Graph API 5.0 and Marketing API v5.0, Facebook announced its intention to limit the number of ads a brand could run at once. Even though the enforcement has been delayed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook still suggests advertisers and marketers limit their ad runs.

The purpose is to encourage businesses to set priorities for their marketing strategies and campaigns for the coming year. The impact of this change will reflect mostly on a small number of pages, but even small businesses can benefit by re-evaluating their internal priorities and realigning their campaigns.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of sharing Facebook algorithm updates in 2020 is to encourage small businesses to reimagine their social marketing strategy. Whether it’s an increased focus on video content or creating more meaningful content, the goal is to optimize the Facebook strategy to increase ROI, engagement and traction.

Pendragon Consulting has a penchant for research, which enables us to stay ahead of the curve with any and all Facebook algorithm updates. Regardless of the curveballs the platform sends our way, our expertise allows us to navigate those changes.

Instead of falling into the trap of engagement bait and content that the algorithm doesn’t love, we can help you strategize your Facebook marketing efforts that act in your favor.

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