Have Facebook changes harmed social media engagement efforts for nonprofits and companies? We wanted to get the scoop, so Network for Good’s Katya Andresen turned to Facebook expert, John Haydon. He provided these excellent, understandable and level-headed responses to the most common questions on why people see what they see on Facebook.
How do Facebook updates work and what do supporters see?
When someone publishes an update (photos, videos, text only updates, links) to their brand’s Facebook page, some of the people who have liked that page will see that update in their newsfeed. Whether a specific person sees that update or not is determined by an algorithm Facebook calls “Edgerank”.
In other words, liking a page does not guarantee that a user will see updates from that Page in their newsfeed. This is actually a good thing, because if you and I saw every update from everyone we ever friended (including people who were jerks to us in high school), no one would ever use Facebook.
Explaining organic reach and the Edgerank algorithm
Organic reach is simply seeing content in your newsfeed directly from a page that you’ve liked. This is different from viral reach which is seeing content from a page because a friend has liked, commented on, or shared that piece of content.
Edgerank is Facebook’s algorithm that determines what is published is each user’s newsfeed. The goal of this algorithm is to publish only the most interesting and relevant content for each specific user.
To determine if any given Page post shows up in the news feed, Facebook looks at four main factors:
1. If you interacted with a Page’s posts before: If you Like every post by a Page that Facebook shows you, it will show you more from that Page.
2. Other people’s reactions: If everyone else on Facebook who is shown a post ignores it or complains, it’s less likely to show you that post.
3. Your interaction with previous posts of the same type: If you always Like photos, there’s a better chance you’ll see a photo posted by a Page.
4. If that specific post has received complaints by other users who have seen it, or the Page who posted it has received lots of complaints in the past, you’ll be less likely to see that post.
Does this mean a drop in Facebook engagement?
Facebook periodically adjusts their algorithm to account for various different phenomenon in the newsfeed. For example, Facebook has adjusted it to include complaints on posts.
Some pages have seen a decrease in reach, while other pages have had no change at all in their reach. So it’s really case-by-case, and not a global phenomenon. The pages that have seen the most dramatic loss in reach were pages who weren’t publishing content that was interesting or relevant to begin with.
(This article was adapted from a post that originally appeared on Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog.)