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Understanding the Facebook Algorithm

Facebook is a difficult beast to tame.

You have 2,000 followers, but your most recent post was only seen by 200 people. It was a picture of your latest marketing flyer, scaled down to fit perfectly onto Facebook. You put a lot of work into that, so that’s pretty disappointing. 

Then, the article you shared from TimeOut about what’s on this weekend in London was seen by 1,200 and had a lot of reactions. What gives?! That’s the Facebook algorithm for you.


What’s happening?

Let’s say that 500 of your followers regularly click on your photos – which is what Facebook would class your flyer as. That means that Facebook will place the flyer on those 500 users' timelines. 

Maybe only 300 of them went on Facebook that particular day. 100 of them were just going online to respond to messages, and didn’t scroll down their timeline far enough to see your post.

That leaves you with your 200 views on the flyer.

Now let’s take the TimeOut article. You shared it without much thought – your business is based in London and you thought your audience might like to see what they could get up to at the weekend. 

It’s got 1,200 views, a significant leap from the 200 for the thing you really want them to see.

Let’s say all 2,000 of your followers are based in London, and regularly follow pages mentioning London, use the word ‘London’ in their posts, tag themselves in London locations etc. That automatically moves the article up Facebook’s priority list of what to place on their timeline. 

Now let’s say that 1,500 of your followers regularly click through to TimeOut’s website from Facebook. That moves the article right to the top of Facebook’s priority list and may be one of the first things they are shown. Maybe 300 of them didn’t go on Facebook that day.

That leaves you with your 1,200 views on the TimeOut article.

Why is this happening?

The online world is absolutely huge. There is an incomprehensible amount of content jostling for place on a person’s screen, there’s just too much to choose from. 

Facebook created an algorithm, based on a hierarchy of priority, to make sure that people were seeing the things they were most likely to 'want' to see. If you search for ‘cute cats’ a lot, and a page you’re following posts an article full of cute cats, Facebook guesses that you’ll want to see it. 

If you’ve never ever searched for ‘property’ or ‘London’ or ‘houses for sale’, then anything from a London Estate Agent isn’t going to even appear on the priority list.

So what should I do?

The trick is to find the balance between posting your own low-performing content and high performing third party content. The TimeOut article was still accompanied by your name and profile picture. If it’s attached to something that your audience likes, that’s more positive reinforcement for your business. 
The occasional piece of third party content also shows your audience that you’re not purely interested in the hard sell, but that you want to engage and share with them.

You can also increase your post visibility by sharing it among your colleagues, asking team members to like and interact with your content. That way Facebook’s algorithm will say “hey this is a little bit popular, maybe more people will want to see this.”

This organic approach takes a lot of time, analysis of your what your audience responds to best, and quality content that people will interact with. While it can take time and resources, this free approach is best suited for smaller business with lots to say but no monetary budget to say it. Those who have the budget for Facebook ads should definitely consider the investment.

There are of course a dozen other factors, and the algorithm changes constantly. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. If you’ve seen a sudden drop in engagement, but no drop in followers, the algorithm may have had an overhaul. 

Whatever the algorithm decides, there’s always a way to make sure your content is seen by the people you want to target.

*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today

This article was originally posted on the Angels Media Facebook page.

  • Harvey Tait

    Facebook brought out "REACH", all Brands and Companies are limited to a 1-16% share rate. Regardless of who you are !
    I've a Facebook marketing consultant for many years, what you have to remember is Facebook is a business that wants to be bigger than Google.
    Look at the new market place locally on your page.
    This guy is giving a free Ebook that I've found interesting, go a few minutes then have a read. (I've shortened the link to make it easy)

  • Harvey Tait

    Apologies for the grammar I'm a terrible Dyslexic, it’s what the Grammarly APP was designed for!


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