3 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

By Shannon Maguire

David Bowie’s hit “Changes” (you know, “Ch-ch-ch-changes”) should be Facebook’s theme song. After all, it seems that with each day comes another mysterious algorithm change that leaves us scrambling. Sure, you could constantly throw money at every piece of content to make it perform better, but should you really have to pay for fans (who willingly chose to like your page) to see your posts? I think not. So here a few easy ways to beat that algorithm and boost engagement.

1. Put the call-to-action on an image.

The site that was once all about the “LIKE” is now all about the “Benjamins.” Stay far away from copy that begins with the word “like” (or “comment” and “share”) because it’s pretty much a kiss of death to organic reach. There are plenty of ways around this, from moving the call-to-action to the second half of the sentence to asking for a “thumbs up,” but perhaps the best way to include a CTA  without being punished by the algorithm is by putting it on an image.

There’s a reason Instagram and GIFs are so popular: we are all about the visual. When you’re competing with adorable puppies and friends’ precious newborns, you have to get straight to the point. By putting a CTA on an eye-catching image, you get your point across immediately. Also, from my experience as a Community Manager, it’s safe to say that less than 50% of your community actually reads the caption at all. Don’t let your message get lost in the feed.

SEE ALSO: 14 Social Media Design Tips for 2014

2. Optimized link posts.

In the social network’s most recent algorithm update, Facebook Product Manager Chris Turitzin claims, “The best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share.” However, it’s not enough to share link posts with standard previews; you have to make sure that the image being pulled into the preview or being upload has the correct dimensions for optimal engagement. Then there’s something else to consider: Check that your brand’s site pulls in properly sized images to link previews automatically. This will ensure that consumers sharing your links on their own will also be sharing better, more attractive content to their networks.

3. Create in-post contests.

One last great way to boost reach is through engagement. Last year, Facebook announced a change to contests and giveaways on the platform that allows for in-post promotions. This means that you no longer have to drive traffic to a tab or microsite for your fans to participate in promotions. While there are still some barriers (for instance, sharing is not an entry option), this is still a HUGE opportunity for brands. Here are a few hacks to get the most out of your in-post contest:

  • Ask for photo comments. Image replies appear larger and draw more attention, bringing more people to check out the post and ultimately enter.
  • Ask for fans to tag friends. While sharing is not allowed, mentioning a friend in the comments is considered a proper form of entry–and it boosts your reach.
  • Make Woobox your friend. Not only does it pull all comments and likes from posts for you to view (Facebook cuts off likes after a bit), but you can also choose winners randomly and download CSVs for all post entries.

SEE ALSO: 3 Things You Need To Know Before Using Facebook’s New Promotional Guidelines

How is your brand coping with the latest algorithm changes? Share your tips and hacks in the comments below!

Relationship Expert June 8, 2014
Great information. I was recently hit hard by the facebook changes. I will implement these tips and hopefully it makes a positive difference.
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Devani Freeman January 31, 2014
Do you have any data to back up your first tip that organic reach is lower when you add a call to action to LIKE or COMMENT the post? These call to action words (in staggered posts) still seem to work awesome for the communities my team manages. We actually get MORE engagement on those posts.
Shannon M January 31, 2014
That's data we have pulled and inferred from content testing. Whenever the algorithm changes, we look at post performance across the board to see how our posts are affected. Facebook has made it clear that they want likes, comments, shares, to be earned not solicited. In my testing I've posted a week of content with CTA openers mixed in. The posts without 'LIKE' or 'COMMENT' first performed better organically, while the heavy CTA performed best when promoted.
Charlie Balk January 29, 2014
great tips!
Shannon M January 30, 2014
Thanks Chuck!

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