Beating Facebook Algorithms


We’ve all heard about how Facebook has changed its algorithms, making it more difficult for groups like us to have our posts read and seen. Well last week at the Non-Profit Technology conference, I was intent on exploring what the experts are doing to overcome this challenged. My first session, on day 1 of the gathering gave me the tips and tools you need to succeed with Facebook engagement. And now, I’m excited to share these with you.

Thanks to the folks at GLESN and Interfaith Family for putting the session together.

If you have been using Facebook ads to drive engagement towards your digital campaigns, you may have noticed that your ad dollars from two years ago are no longer getting you the same results. That’s because Facebook has changed its algorithms prioritizing what posts get shared with whom. Posts are prioritized that:

  1. Generate back and forth conversation;
  2. Contain videos and news articles, again that spark back and forth discussions;
  3. Are posts from friends and family (over posts from pages); and
  4. Are posts with longer comments compared to shorter comments.


Facebook prioritizes posts that generate conversation

This means that you want to focus on posts that will generate comments. Once someone comments on your post it’ll appear in their newsfeed. If their comment begets responses then it’ll appear more often and to more people.  A few tips to build your post profile in feeds:

  • Reply to nearly every comment you receive on your posts. Replying will give the best chance at back and forth and thus appearing to more people and in more feeds;
  • Ask questions in your reply to elicit a response. Lead your supporters to initiate a dialogue (which you of course will respond to);
  • Encourage staff to share on their personal pages and to engage in dialogue on your orgs facebook page; and
  • Tag relevant people and supporters into comments to elicit their engagement.

OK...but what about the trolls? We all have them (if you don’t, consider yourself lucky). There’s no tolerance on our page: bullying or discriminatory comments are immediately deleted. We try to utilize ignorant comments as an opportunity to educate. It’s important to have a policy on how you treat trolls and make sure you repeat your policy in the comments if it is being violated. As a charity, for example, it’s important that our comment fields are not a battleground for partisan politics. This means that any comments that have am explicitly partisan bent have to be deleted.  


Use Facebook groups

Facebook groups are a great online opportunity to network with your supporters. They are enable dialogue, the sharing of resources, and calls to action. To make Facebook groups successful, be sure to have a core number of participants who are your designated conversation starters. They can pose questions to the group, be the first to engage in conversations and comment on posts. Many organizations find that when they share interesting materials or calls to action, people part of Facebook groups are the most likely to share that content to their personal pages. Some organizations at the conference shared stories of what a great tool Facebook groups are to elicit rapid response on policy matters.

You can build membership for your Facebook group both through your followers on your existing Facebook page as well as by inviting email contacts to join the group.  


Use videos

What do nutty cats, kooky owls and freshwater defenders have in common? People are more likely to watch a video about them than read a blog. Videos are some of the most widely shared content in the social media world and all platforms are prioritizing video posts. Many of us shy away from creating videos because we don’t think we have the budget or the expertise. But some of the most successful videos shared on social media are low to no-budget videos. They can be slideshows with text and still images. Never make a video over 2-mins, though: 60-90 Seconds is optimal.

My challenge to you: produce and share a short 60 sec video using text and still images in the next month. Post a link to it in the chat box below and we’ll be sure to help spread the social media love!

Try out tools like: Animoto; You-Tube Audio Library; Lumen5.



Use Facebook Live

Facebook Live videos are a great way to get content out into the digi-verse. Partner with other organizations and go live with a conversation. Have fun with it--it’s like scripting your own talk television show! In order to drive interest, make sure to promote your Facebook Live event for about a week before the actual event. 20-40 mins is the ideal time frame. You want to be sure to have some planned small talk for the first few minutes allowing time for people to join in. Remember to introduce yourselves several times throughout the video as people will come and go.

Using tools like Zoom or Open Broadcaster Software can help you with your Facebook Live videos.

Check out this handy guide, shared by Interfaith Family: Practical Tips to Help You Create the Best Facebook Live Videos



Easy Win: Adjusting news feed preferences

If you're a small organization and don't have the time or capacity to respond to regularly respond to comments, contribute to group discussions or do Facebook Live videos, an easy win is to ask your followers to prioritize your Page in their news feed so that they will continue to see your posts. 

In order to do this, have them go to their Facebook page, click the little arrow in the top right of the page, and choose "News Feed Preferences". Then click on "Prioritize who to see first" and then "Pages only." Have your supporters select your page (and any other pages they might like to keep up-to-date with!), and they'll be sure to see your posts in their news feed. 



So there you have it: Five tips on how you can beat Facebook’s new algorithms and drive deeper engagement with your followers online. Although many of us are pretty wary of Facebook in the wake of allegations against the platform for allowing external parties to access private information, it remains a really powerful way to reach people who are supporters and would-be supporters. So, we think that it's still a really worthwhile communications tool (although definitely believe that Facebook needs to be held accountable when it comes to safeguarding private information). 

We hope these tips have been helpful! Give them a go and let us know in the comments below how it’s working for you!  Thanks again to the folks at GLESN and Interfaith Family for sharing these tips (and more) last week at #18NTC.