Understanding the Facebook algorithm in 2021

The Facebook Algorithm is something that may elude and confuse most business owners and sometimes we see experts showing us tips and tricks to beat the algorithm. The one thing I can tell you in 20-plus years of marketing is, you can’t beat the algorithm but you can work with it.

And when it comes to the four ranking factors Facebook have been prioritising for a while now – recency, popularity, content type, and relationship – it means for businesses we need to do one thing, share GOOD content that our audience relates with. 

How is Facebook Ranking Posts:

Facebook ranks the posts that appear in our newsfeeds through machine learning known as the algorithm, to show us the content it thinks we will most likely engage with next, which is natural and smart when you think about it. Facebook is a social network; comments, likes and engagements keep us on the platform socialising. 

It is not new. Facebook has been sharing with us for a while now that the content that works best is content that creates conversation and engagement.
In 2021, the Facebook algorithm is made up of four main ranking signals: recency, popularity, content type, and relationship.

The signals are nothing new when it comes to marketing and social media, but 2021 is certainly the year to make sure your content is engaging and consistent.

How does the process work?

  • Facebook takes an inventory of each post in a user’s network and then ranks it against the signals: recency, popularity, content type, and relationship.
  • Then it discards the posts the user is unlikely to engage with (think click bait & misleading posts) PLUS the posts they have indicated they want to see less of.
  • Then it runs a personalised scan which they call the neural network, over the post on the percentage of content type and engagement action they will take on the post and deliver content in that order.
  • Then it arranges this into a selection of media types to deliver to the user’s newsfeed.

In the end it delivers GOOD content the user relates to. (I think we are seeing a pattern)  

How do we engage the Four Signals the Facebook Algorithm is looking for in 2021 

Facebook has indicated that it uses thousands of ranking signals. 
Everything from the speed of a user’s internet connection to whether they prefer to engage by liking or commenting and the pillars add to this. 

So when creating our content, consider the following: 

Relationship to the Content:

A user’s relationship to the content provider or content is going to be key in 2021. When we talk about relationships in Facebook terms, the algorithm is looking at; Is the post from a person, business, news source or public figure that the user often engages with? 

Think things like: messages, tags, engages with, follows, etc.
As business owners we can build relationships with our content through good calls to action in our captions and posts. 

Things like: Asking questions, encouraging conversations, encouraging followers off social media. 

The Content Type:

Learning styles transfer to engagement styles and that means users will have a content preference. 

So Facebook will look at what type of media is in the post, PLUS which type of media does the user interact with most? (i.e. video, photo, link, etc.) and then deliver that to the feed.

As content providers we need to provide a variety of content that our audience will relate to and watch our insights so we can create an authority for delivering content in the way our audience wants it. 

The Popularity of the topic:

Popularity comes down to two things when it comes to creating content. The first is the initial reaction to the content. 

How are people who have already seen the post reacting to it?  Are they sharing it, commenting on it, ignoring it?

This will impact the reach of the content in the feed for others, so our secret here is to encourage engagement and make sure the content we share creates a connection so we can encourage a reaction (timing helps with this also) 

Tip: Deliver the right content at the right time.

The second factor when it comes to popularity is trending topics. If a topic is trending, you have a good chance of boosting your post’s popularity. 

How recent is the Content:

Everyone wants the latest news and Facebook users are no different; they want to see what is new first. So Facebook will look at how new the post is and group them together in the user’s news feed. 

Actions to help you work Facebook Algorithm:

Reply to your people – If a person has taken the time to talk to your brand, don’t waste the opportunity: make them feel heard, make them smile, or inspire them to keep engaging. By doing this we work the relationship side of connection within the algorithm.

Get your people engaging with each other: If Facebook gives us a tip we should try and action it, and conversation is the engagement Facebook values most. So in the content we share we need to be encouraging conversation, not only with our brand, but between our community. Once again we are building a relationship with the content and algorithm along with engagement which will send popularity signals.

Create Communities in your Facebook Groups: As the founder of Business Business Business I have always said community is key to Facebook Groups, and that means in 2021 attending to our groups, facilitating conversations and relationship building will be key to being seen. Use your page to manage that branded group and you will also see an interaction boost.

Go for more than a “Like” get a reaction: You might have seen in your newsfeed that Facebook now offers more than a like as a reaction to a post. Reactions such as love, caring, laughter, sadness and anger rank higher than the ‘thumbs up’ as it shows more consideration from the user.

Use Your Insights to be there when your people are: Recency is a key signal. The newest posts go to the top of the news feed. It is not new, but make sure you are regularly checking your insights, so you understand your audience behaviour patterns and post when your people are online.

Tell your story with stories: Stories float above the newsfeed and are the first thing a user sees. So a good story can drive traffic to your page or website. Stories are best kept simple and easy to understand.

Use the Power of Live Video: Video has been king when it comes to content on Facebook for a while now, and Live Video works all the four pillars, providing recent content that encourages engagement through relationships with your page, which can lead to popularity.

Good Content that creates engagement is the winner in 2021

For my students and clients, it will be no surprise that good content is what Facebook wants to see in 2021. We have been talking about this in the Marketing Circle for months now. So, rather than trying to break the algorithm in 2021, work with it.

Create great content that inspires, engages and connects with your audience.

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