Facebook’s New Algorithm Change Is Actually Two Updates In One

You already know that Facebook uses algorithms to determine who sees your updates and when – and they adjust those algorithms all the time.

(Which means that occasionally, you need to adjust your strategy, too.)

Facebook’s latest update is actually TWO updates – a couple of changes to totally different parts of the overall algorithm!

Updates like these can impact your visibility in the News Feed not just for individual updates, but for your Page as a whole – and that means you should definitely pay attention to them.

So, double the algorithm changes, double the fun!

Wanna make sure you’re playing by the rules?

Here’s what’s new and different:

Facebook is judging your authenticity

When Facebook is determining who should see your updates and when, it looks at two different types of signals.

Personal signals are specific to the user seeing an update. For example, if there are certain people on Facebook with whom you frequently interact, you’re more likely to see their updates.

Universal signals are specific to user or Page posting an update. For example, if a Page’s updates frequently score high engagement rates, its updates may be shown to more users.

(Think of Facebook like a very trendy personal shopper – it shows you items based on what it knows you like, as well as the overall quality of what’s available.)

Facebook Value Scores.png
Facebook assigns value scores based on different signals – and those scores may vary for different users.

One of Facebook’s most recent algorithm changes relates to universal signals. That means it has to do with your Page and what it posts – specifically, your authenticity.

Facebook has new ways of determining how authentic you and your updates are – and if you aren’t authentic, you could be in trouble.

But what does that mean, exactly?

How do they know whether or not you’re authentic?

It’s not like they can turn you inside out and check your label! (That would be weird and gross.)

On Facebook, authenticity takes different forms.

First, it can mean trying to game the system.

Facebook is usually forthcoming about what you can do to increase your visibility in the News Feed – but that also makes their algorithms vulnerable to exploitation.

Last year, for example, they explained that live video broadcasts would get higher reach than some other types of content.

Sounds like a good way to get people to share live video, right? (Which makes sense, because this is a feature they were promoting pretty heavily at the time.)

The good news is, it worked! What also happened, though, is that people found ways to exploit the system. By posting graphics-only “live videos” like countdown clocks, for example, they could enjoy better exposure in the News Feed without producing an actual live broadcast.

The result? Facebook had to find a way to crack down on people taking advantage of the algorithm – in this case, by limiting visibility for graphics-only live broadcasts.

Trump Facebook Poll.gif
Facebook is already reducing the visibility of poll-style live videos like this one.

Remember what we said about how high engagement rates can increase your visibility?

Some Pages explicitly ask people for likes, comments, and shares as a way of increasing their reach – a tactic that Facebook believes is dishonest and inauthentic.

Another sign of inauthenticity is posting the types of content to which users have certain unfavorable reactions – Facebook gives the example of Pages whose audiences frequently hide their updates.

Another example may be Pages whose updates are frequently reported – especially as Facebook is under scrutiny for issues related to the spread of “fake news.”

Legally Blonde Fake News Facebook

Facebook has used the habits of Pages that regularly share inauthentic updates to build a model that can automatically identify and predict whether or not other Pages’ updates are authentic.

The way they see it, Pages that frequently do things such as asking for likes or sharing updates that people hide aren’t exactly great examples of the authenticity users care about. The more you have in common with those Pages’ tactics, the less likely that you’re authentic, either.

So while Facebook isn’t sharing all the different ways that they measure authenticity – after all, they’re trying to prevent people from gaming the system – they’re making it plenty clear that taking shortcuts when it comes to quality isn’t the answer.

That’s one big algorithm update out of the way, but remember – there’s still another new update to talk about!

Here’s the other big change to keep in mind moving forward:

Facebook is tracking real-time changes more closely

Facebook’s algorithms are always working in the background, so that when you visit your News Feed, you’re seeing the information they think is most relevant to you at that moment.

The second update they’ve just made is to how information is processed in real time – specifically, information related to an update’s subject and its engagement.

Basically, Facebook may place a status update higher in the News Feed if:

  • It is related to a topic that is popular on Facebook at that moment (for example, if you share an update about the Academy Awards while the Academy Awards are being broadcast, and people on Facebook are talking about them)
  • It is getting a lot of engagement at that moment (for example, if several of your followers get into a real-time debate in the comments on one of your updates)

Does that mean that all of your updates should be relevant to what’s trending at that exact moment?

Of course not!

What you do isn’t always going to be that timely.

Bobs Discount Frogs FB Update

(You’re better off not forcing it.)

What it does mean, though, is you should be prepared for the times when it is relevant for you to post timely, live updates.

The best way to do that? Plan your updates ahead as much as possible – even by using a scheduling tool that allows you to share evergreen updates more than once.

An overwhelming majority of marketers prefers planning their Facebook updates in advance over trying to do everything live, and with good reason: it’s too much work!

The more you can plan, write, and schedule in advance, though, the more time you’ll have later when there are appropriate opportunities to post live – and being prepared for those moments is especially important now.

What do YOU think of these updates?

So, Facebook is fine-tuning their ability to measure real-time signals, and they’re paying closer attention than ever to whether or not your updates are authentic.

What do YOU think of these changes, though?

Do they make sense?

Will they influence what you share?

Do they address concerns you might have, or that you’ve had in the past?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Dana

    I hide page posts after liking or commenting if I don’t want to read the other comments. I need to pay attention and see if I can collapse the comments instead.

  • Thanks for sharing this! I think there is a HUGE push for us to get back to sharing our stories as a brand and not just trying to shove the product down their throat. Show people how to use the product and make it relevant to their situation, their world. Consumers are even scrolling past the fake and the overly “salesy” pitches.

  • Good to see the changes but truthfully the internet marketeer is the one who make the whole facebook algorithm part be as difficult as it is. Though is guess that is man as whole. We have to figure out how something works and then use it to our advantage.

  • I’m so glad they’re cracking down on the graphics-only live broadcasts. It’s the dullest and most uncreative use of live video I’ve seen. It’s just lazy and a desparate attempt to increase page engagement without having to put the hard work in. I’ve been hiding every live video that I see doing this.

  • Lakhshya Verma

    Makes me happier to know how ‘good internet’ and best practices are becoming more important. Hopefully more SME clients will know the difference between the good and the bad marketers.

    However, will these updates also effect the GA reporting is what I would be interested in knowing.. 🙂

  • Jasmine Andrews

    I like that they attempt to make the feed more relevant. What I don’t get is how hiding a post from my feed or a negative reaction to it would indicate to fb that it’s ‘fake news’. I might just be upset at the image used or be a bit sick of seeing something. Also, it is vulnerable to exploitation by people wanting to suppress a particular message. They would be able to send users to like that page and then repeatedly hide the posts to artificially manipulate facebook’s rating of that page and its posts. In the context of ‘fake news’ and seemingly strong desires to limit news to propaganda, this could be a weapon of misinformation.

  • Michael Wilkinson

    Thanks you for this news. Not too long ago a bought an app that made it easy to set up poll-style videos like the one in your example above. Thank goodness I haven’t been using it. If I had been, I might have gotten a Facebook slap for being ‘inauthentic.’ Still, I feel like a sucker for buying that crap.

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