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Why Facebook’s latest algorithm update could make reaching your audience even harder

Organic reach for brands on Facebook, the world’s largest social network, could be even more challenging following the company’s latest algorithm update.

Facebook uses algorithms to decide what users see on their News Feed. For some time now, posts from Pages (company profiles on Facebook) have been finding it more and more difficult to get a look in unless they are sponsored.

A couple of months ago we wrote about an update aimed at limiting the number of posts users see from the same brand. Facebook said that change was in response to user feedback.

The social network said users would see more posts from the people and Pages that they ‘care about’ because their level of interaction with those people and Pages would be a more significant ranking factor. So, just because a user has liked a company Page in the past, they probably see that brand’s posts in their News Feed unless they regularly interact with the Page or other posts or friends who have shared those posts.

Now Facebook has pushed a further update that will also likely impact the organic visibility of company posts.

How the News Feed will change

In what is likely to be another hurdle for brands trying to reach their audience without paying for ads, Facebook has changed the rules for how users receive content from Pages, relying solely on whether the posts are being shared.

Previously, post engagement, such as likes or comments, would have helped push brand posts into the News Feeds of their followers. Now, content will only be able to reach a wider audience if followers share the posts with their friends.

Continuing the theme of prioritising posts from people that users ‘care about’, Facebook has announced in an official blog post that its direction for the News Feed is to focus on family and friends.

“Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family,” the company said. “That is still the driving principle of News Feed today. Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”

The implications for Pages are that organic reach is likely to further decline along with referral traffic back to brand Pages. Facebook even acknowledged this fact, stating that Pages receiving the majority of traffic from posts will suffer a greater impact.

“Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages,” Facebook said. “For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.”

So, how should brands prevent the loss of their Facebook audience? While the algorithm change will likely have a negative effect on organic reach, there are some things that brands can do to increase the odds of their content being seen by their followers.

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How to overcome declining organic reach

Unfortunately as a Page owner you don’t have any control over the way Facebook chooses to distribute your content into News Feeds, however, you can change the way you create and promote your content.

What may seem an obvious option but still requires a mention here, is creating content that your audience will want to share with their friends. This means not only creating content that is engaging, informative and interesting but also ensuring that it is optimised for all devices so that users can easily view and share it. If your content doesn’t stand out from the crowd and fails to offer something unique then it is unlikely your followers will be inspired to promote it for you.

Perhaps the best method for creating content that users want to share is focussing on topics that are currently trending and popular. People want to be kept up to date on the latest crazes and internet fads, so if you are producing content that informs them about these hot topics they will be more inclined to share it with their friends. Whether its coverage of a popular event or content that refers to something that a lot of people are talking about (such as the latest Game of Thrones episode) it will likely reach a lot more people.

Among Facebook’s best practice recommendations is the use of hashtags, which can help users easily find all the posts on a particular topic. If you’re hoping to tap into a popular story or theme, hashtags can be a great way to get some attention for your content.

Increasingly though the best way to guarantee an audience for your Facebook content is to pay for it. Facebook is one of the most successful advertising platforms on the planet and offers various products to help brands get in front of the right people.

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