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The Facebook algorithm is a set of rules that determine what content users see in their feeds. The algorithm’s goal is to make the posts that “matter most to the user” highly visible to that user.

The way this works is that Facebook starts by showing your post to a small number of your friends. It does this by evaluating the post (or ad, Story, or Reel) and ranks it according to a set of criteria including:

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • View history
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Likelihood to click
  • Likelihood to spend time with this post
  • Likelihood to like, comment and share
  • Likelihood that you’ll find this informative
  • Likelihood that this is clickbait

The algorithm can take in more than 10,000 different signals to make its predictions about a user’s likelihood of engaging with a single post.

The algorithm rewards high user engagement, which could come from the enjoyment of your post or from outrage. This might be in the form of “Likes”, comments, or “Shares.” Not all engagement is equal of course. Facebook uses an algorithm known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank works by adding weighting to your post based on the actions users take towards it. Liking, commenting and sharing your post all have a different weighting so will affect the overall score once processed through the algorithm. The higher the score, the more Facebook is likely to show your post across News Feeds.

Likes – Likes are throwaway actions, they’re a quick one-click way of saying ‘I agree with what you’re saying’, ‘I like this kind of post’, ‘I don’t have time to comment but I enjoyed see this post on my News Feed’. By their simple nature, Likes have the lightest weighing, so score the least with EdgeRank.

Reaction Emojis  – Reacting with a reaction Facebook emoji takes an extra step that a user needs to take to show their emotion. While merely liking a post shows Facebook that it’s content you’re interested in, responding with a reaction sends an even stronger signal and shows a deeper level of user engagement each time it is used.

Comment – Comments involve a little more commitment from your reader as they need to choose and type their words, they’re representing their own views of what you’re saying in your post which requires more thought than just a simple click on the ‘Like’ button. For this reason, EdgeRank will score comments a little higher.

Share – Shares are a much more forceful action, enabling the reader to push your post out to their friends and followers in a manner which says ‘You must read this’, ‘I totally agree with what this post is saying’.

Here is a quick acronym I came up with to remember the order of importance in the Edge algorithm:

E – Easy or Enjoy (Likes) Easy
D – Decisive (Emojis)
G – Good or Great (Comments)
E – Engaged (Shares)

So, engagement isn’t just measured by the number of people interacting with your post, but by a weighted score of those interacting. But when you first create a post, Facebook makes a determination as to whether or not it thinks your content will get any form of engagement, so it makes a determination as to how many of your friends to show it to (note: not all of your friends see something just because you posted it).

For example, let’s say you own a tea shop. Let’s say that Taylor Swift happened to come into your tea shop the same day that your daughter brought your new grandbaby into the shop and you took a photo of her holding the baby. Facebook “knows” that this post might get lots of engagement, so it decides to show this post to 100 of your friends right from the start.

(That of course isn’t real – it is AI generated).

More typically, you decide to post a photo of your latest tea blend inviting your friends and followers to come in and sample a cup of tea. Pretty boring. The average Facebook user has 338 friends, so Facebook might decide to initially show it to perhaps 20 of your friends.

However, if none of those friends engage with your content, it is never shown to anyone else. If 5 of those first 20 friends engage with your post, Facebook will see that it has gotten a 25% engagement response, and will show it to more of your friends. If all 20 people engage with the post (highly unlikely), Facebook will show it to even more of your friends. The more people that engage with your post, the more people Facebook will continue to display your post on your other friends news feed. And when enough people share your post – that is how something goes viral.

Now if one of your friends is a “lurker” and never engages with your content, pretty soon Facebook will stop showing them your content all together. This of course is based upon both how many friends you have and how many friends they have – if you are the only person they have friended on Facebook, well, the algorithm has to show them something, so your stuff will still show up. But most likely, they will stop seeing your posts if they never interact with you.

This is why it is critical that your posts get engagement, especially if you are using Facebook for business purposes. The more engagement you get, the more people who will see your content.

So if you have thousands of “followers” on your Facebook business page, and none of those people ever engage with your content, pretty soon no one is seeing your content and it goes into a black hole. At that point you must start paying to “boost” your posts to get more eyeballs in front of your content.

Most social platforms work in a similar fashion. Engagement = eyeballs.

If your friends or followers are not engaging with your content, it actually hurts you in the algorithm. You are better off removing those people so that there is a higher percentage of friends and followers engaging with you posts, even if the total number is fewer. If your friends don’t interact with your content, then this hurts your reach on Facebook. It is the percentage of friends that engage with you that makes a difference, not just the number.

So how do you get more engagement?

Start by creating content that is more unique. Don’t just post a photo of a cup of tea – make it outrageous somehow.

Then – Ask! Create an open ended question and ask people for their response. Ask them to share the post. Ask people to follow you to get more great content like this. If you are on YouTube, ask them to subscribe.

It’s really that simple.

How often should you post on Facebook?

The frequency of posting on Facebook can vary depending on your goals, the type of audience you have, and the kind of content you’re sharing. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but I can provide some general guidance and considerations.

For Personal Accounts:

If you’re posting to a personal Facebook account, the goal is usually to keep in touch with friends and family. In this case, the frequency that’s most appropriate might be a few times a week to once a day. Posting too frequently (multiple times per day) can sometimes be overwhelming for your audience and could potentially lead to unfollows or being muted if the content is not engaging or seen as too spammy.

For Business Pages or Public Figures:

For businesses or public figures, the strategy might differ:

  • Consistency is Key: Posting consistently is more important than posting frequently. Establishing a regular schedule helps set the expectation for your audience and can improve engagement.
  • Quality over Quantity: Ensure that the content you are posting is high-quality, relevant, and engaging. It’s better to post less frequently with great content than to post often with mediocre content.
  • Testing and Learning: Start with a moderate frequency, such as once a day or a few times a week, and adjust based on how your audience responds. Use Facebook Insights to track engagement and reach.

Facebook’s Algorithm and Frequency:

Facebook uses an algorithm to determine which posts show up in a user’s News Feed and how high they appear. The algorithm considers several factors, including:

  • Relevance: Posts that are more relevant to the user, based on their past interactions, are more likely to be shown.
  • Engagement: Posts that receive more engagement (likes, comments, shares) are often shown to more people.
  • Recency: Newer posts are more likely to appear than older ones.
  • Relationship: Posts from people and pages that a user frequently interacts with are given higher priority.

If you post too frequently and your posts do not engage users (they don’t react, comment, or share), Facebook’s algorithm may start to deem your content as less relevant, and it could show up less often in your audience’s News Feeds. Conversely, if you post too infrequently, you risk being forgotten or losing the momentum of audience engagement.
Frequency and Engagement:

The relationship between frequency and engagement can be complex:

  • High Frequency with Low Engagement: If you post too often and your audience does not engage with your content, the algorithm may reduce the visibility of your posts.
  • Moderate Frequency with High Engagement: If you post less often but your content is engaging, it may be shown more often to your audience when you do post.
  • Audience Fatigue: Posting too frequently may lead to audience fatigue, where your followers become less responsive simply because they see too much from you.

Best Practices:

  • Analyze Your Audience: Understand when they are online and what kind of content they engage with.
  • Content Calendar: Create a content calendar to plan out your posts and maintain a balanced frequency.
  • Monitor Performance: Use Facebook Insights to monitor the performance of your posts and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Engagement is Crucial: Focus on creating content that encourages interaction.

In summary, the best posting frequency is one that maintains a balance between staying visible and relevant to your audience without overwhelming them. Continually measuring and adjusting your strategy based on audience engagement will help you find the sweet spot for your specific situation.