PostRocket: Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Can Actually Help Pages

By Justin Lafferty 

Ever since Facebook tweaked its news feed algorithm (which many people refer to as EdgeRank) in the fall so more users would see more posts from pages with which they’ve positively engaged and fewer from pages they’ve ignored or hidden, many Facebook page marketers have been cursing the company’s name, as their reaches have decreased. But as PostRocket Co-Founder Mike Maghsoudi recently opined, Facebook’s algorithm actually helps pages get their message in front of the users who matter most.

Maghsoudi blogged a defense of Facebook’s algorithm, pointing out that even though the site picks who sees your posts (unlike Twitter, which sends all posts to all followers), the people who see the page’s posts are most likely to like or comment on them.

He compared the engagement rates of a brand that had 170,000 followers on Twitter and 80,000 fans on Facebook:

While Facebook’s algorithm changes may decrease reach for some page owners, Maghsoudi pointed out that on Twitter, with so many voices competing for space, engagement is nowhere near the levels found on Facebook:

When most people complain about EdgeRank, they immediately point to Twitter and say, “Look! Twitter lets me reach all my fans!” This isn’t really the case. Twitter’s unfiltered feed means that most tweets go unnoticed. Even worse, the feed gives no context as to how many times a tweet has been favorited/retweeted/replied to unless a user clicks on the tweet to expand it.  The problem here is that you can’t expect a user to do this to every tweet, so the most popular tweets on your feed appear to be the same as the least popular tweets.

Maghsoudi also wrote that Facebook’s algorithm actually helps brands by pushing their most popular posts and hiding the posts that were not so worthy of engagement. It also puts important posts in front of the fans who would be most likely to like, comment on, or share the message.

The reality is that not all of your fans care about every post. Maybe some fans are just interested in new developments, while others only want to see posts about discounts and contests. Those who are devoted followers can sign up for notifications each time your page posts, but that’s likely a minority. Facebook’s algorithm separates your fan base, allowing those who usually comment on photos to see photos or those who share links more often to see links. Maghsoudi writes that this essentially puts posts in the places where they’d be most likely to succeed.

Additionally, he wrote that the changes in the news feed algorithm reward the better posts while de-emphasizing the worse ones:

The key takeaway here is that there is justice with EdgeRank. In the short term, Facebook rewards you when your posts are great with more visibility — and saves you from humiliating yourself by not showing your bad posts. In the long term, those who work hard to provide quality content for their fans to appreciate are rewarded, and those who post cat memes all the time to bolster their talking about this number are punished. As a page owner, you must focus on quality before quantity when it comes to posting. Now, it’s more important than ever to monitor your negative feedback numbers. Most people who suffered a drop in reach back in September will see in their insights that the reason is likely negative feedback.

Readers: Has this changed your opinion of Facebook’s news feed algorithm?

Illustration courtesy of Daniel Chae.