Tips and Tricks to Beat Facebook's Algorithms

Tips and Tricks to Beat Facebook's Algorithms

Ever since Facebook changed to curated news feeds, there has been endless grumbling in the photography community about diminished reach and post engagement. That shouldn’t stop you from trying to beat their algorithms. You can still have a ton of success with Facebook posts. You just need to know how to work the system.

Tag Your Subjects

Tagging whomever is in the photo is the best way to get more reach. Depending on the person’s settings, the post will automatically show up on their wall and also in other people’s news feeds. Facebook doesn’t allow businesses to tag people, so you’ll have to tag them as yourself. Tagging yourself will help as well if you have it set to show up on your wall.

Timing

When you post is extremely important. According to Adweek, page engagement and number of likes are highest on Fridays between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. You can also tell when people are engaging your posts most often by looking at your Page Insights. It varies from page to page and depends who your audience is. You can schedule all of your posts to be published at the optimal time.

Call to Action

Calls to action are critical. Facebook has started to penalize low quality posts. They also penalize overt advertisements, so the wording of your call to action is important. Adding one is a good way to get people to engage and show Facebook’s algorithms that you have a quality post. Asking people to like your page or visit your website will most likely be more detrimental than good. Instead, ask people "what do you guys think?" or something else benign.

Congratulations

According to Business Insider, posts that mention the word “congratulations” or “congrats” get bumped up in news feeds. They do this because it could be related to one of your friend’s important life events. You want to know when your friend gets married, right? If you're a wedding photographer, this is easy. Ask people if they can give the newlyweds a congratulations. This will get you tons of comments, higher engagement, and people will say the magic word.

Interact With Your Own Posts

Like your own posts as soon as you post them. The earlier your post gets engagement, the better. Replying to people’s comments also builds rapport with your audience and makes them more likely to engage in the future.

Drip Content

Dripping content is a great way to keep people interested in your page. You can use Facebook’s scheduling feature to set up a series of posts, each revealing a little more about what you’re doing.

Don’t Pay

Paying for page likes may seem like a good idea at first, but may be detrimental in the long run. You will get more page likes, but the people who liked your page from the ad probably won’t interact with your page at all. This will result in extremely low engagement, even though you may have thousands of page likes.

Photos Are Best

The type of post greatly affects how much engagement posts get. Photos will get the most engagement, closely followed by videos. Links get far less. Plain text updates have the worst engagement. I have posted plain text updates before, and the reach was so pitiful that it wasn't worth doing it. Wait until you have a photo to post to say what you have in mind.

Appeal to Emotions

Evoking an emotional response is the best way to get people engaged. This has long been a technique marketers use to get better return on their ads. It won’t stop working anytime soon.

Storytelling

People are obsessed with stories. Telling a story (with emotional appeal) will work wonders for your engagement. Take Humans of New York for example. All of his posts are about people, and they are relatable. He has the most successful photography page on Facebook, and it's hardly even about the photos. My best posts to date have been about veterans and cancer patients.

Short and Sweet

Keep your posts as short as possible to get your point across. Most people don’t want to spend five minutes reading a Facebook post.

Post Consistently

Posting consistently gives your fans something to look for. The more consistently you post, the more people will come to expect seeing your work. This also helps prevent your content from being filtered out of people’s news feeds. If people don’t engage with your posts, Facebook interprets that as them being uninterested in your content.

Content Is King

You can do everything mentioned above, but if your work isn’t up to snuff, your engagement will suffer. Only post your absolute best work. This cannot be stressed enough. Live by the motto of "if someone else posted this, would I press 'like' if it was in my news feed?" If the answer is "no," don't post it. The work you post has to have a wow factor, or people will scroll right past it.

On Facebook’s New Reactions

As of now, any reaction to your post still counts as positive engagement, even if it’s “anger” or “sad.” They may change it in the future so that your post and similar content will be filtered out of people's feeds if they react angrily to it.

Conclusion

There are, of course, limitations to what will and won’t work with the tips mentioned. For instance, commercial photographers may not be able to tag the people in their photos for various reasons. I’ve tested each one of these tips, and they all work well for me. My page is definitely not the largest on Facebook, but my reach and engagement is higher than some pages with 10 times the amount of likes. I hope these tips help you out and grow your business as a result!

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33 Comments

Matthew Stauffer's picture

Great material! It would be interesting to see someone publish a study of empirical data from analyzing multiple users who use these approaches to see which are the most effective.

Brandon Adam's picture

Thanks, Matt! Most of the tips that I mentioned have come from studies. I can't answer as to which is the most effective though.

Kyle Medina's picture

I stopped using Facebook all together. I don't see it as a place to build a following. Especially if you're doing it for yourself. If you are doing wedding I highly recommend Facebook. If for yourself then Instagram.

Brandon Adam's picture

I honestly haven't had much luck with Instagram. Most of my business comes from Facebook, so I won't stop using it any time soon.

For me, it's a waste of time. I'm promoting a website, not a business, but the click rate is so low, despite decent engagement. It is simply not worth the effort.

Tomash Masojc's picture

Interesting, but posting something at friday evening gets me lowest number of likes :) every other day i can get more

Brandon Adam's picture

Interesting! I've definitely had the most success on Fridays. Like I said in the article, it all depends on who your audience is.

G. George Flanik's picture

Brandon, Spot on. Facebook is where the fish are at. Thanks for the tips.

Brandon Adam's picture

Thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful.

Kyle Medina's picture

Thats the problem with stats like this. Sure there are millions more but majority of these people are just on Facebook to complain about their lives and other peoples lives. Take Trey Ratcliff, he very little interactions on Facebook compared to Youtube and Instagram. Also you can take his website too, where that has little to no interactions. These are vanity numbers that don't actually apply to any of us. Where as Instagram people are looking for photos thats why they are there. Also when was the last time you actually used the search bar? I never do....ever. Reason why weddings and portraits work so well is because people want to show off themselves its more personal than wildlife and landscape. So thats where the photographers page comes in.

Matt Rennells's picture

There is one thing that this leaves out. If you're marketing to a younger generation (under 25), then instagram and snapchat are where the users are at. Daily use on those is much higher than on Facebook (even though they may have a Facebook account, it is just linked to the other one).

Chris Adval's picture

is there a legitimate service, like facebook to provide that data of specific audiences engaging most at certain times of the day? If they did I think I'd invest in boosting posts to get the most out of my audiences. Other than that its a guessing game unless I have tons of giveaways to get surveyed data. I know if you go boost at certain times of the day on certain audiences it would automatically be based on other people bidding for that audience and times but I'd like to plan ahead and already know X times work with my audiences best.

Brandon Adam's picture

There aren't any that I'm aware of. You can tell what demographics are engaging in your page overall, but it won't tell you per post or when they interact.

Chris Adval's picture

I know there are many that claim to provide this, but is it legitimate data? I don't know lol..especially its not affiliated with facebook officially.

Tomash Masojc's picture

Maybe for me it's like that, because my audience is more young people to 35 year. And at Friday night everybody are partying. But for instagram this doesn't work, i get everday about the same.

I jumped off FBook about 2 years ago; since then my lawn is greener, my BBQ tastes better, creativity comes easier, and my pants fit better.

Brandon Adam's picture

Hey, whatever works! It's not for everyone.

Dave McDermott's picture

Some good tips. I usually get the most engagement on Friday and Sunday evenings. However I often get an update from facebook telling me that a certain post is getting 95% more engagement than the rest of my posts, yet the numbers seem to contradict this.

Brandon Adam's picture

I'm glad you found it useful! I agree with you. I'm not sure why they have that notification in place, other than a plug to get you to boost the post.

Dejan Smaic's picture

I'd like to #congratulate Brandon Adam on an informative post.

Brandon Adam's picture

I see what you did there. Thank you!

Dejan Smaic's picture

And I also misspelled congratulate ;-P

Drew Pluta's picture

I'm not a fan of all this cynical gaming of our social interactions through structured behaviors built into our systems specifically to make us engage the way the overlords want us to engage. This whole post is a well trained rats guide better cheese. Reminds me of why I'm a life member of the counter culture.

Harry Kanelopoulos's picture

Great Post! My main problem with Facebook ads, is the Targeted audience. It seems that it doens't matter what country I choose, I'll get likes from people in Pakistan or mainly arab countries.

I think Facebook has a pool of those people where it sends your ads to, or they're bots.

Randy Smith's picture

What are your thoughts on paying for Facebook marketing?

Brandon Adam's picture

I addressed that in the article. I don't think it's worth it or beneficial. Having 50 people who are interested in what you do is far better than 10,000 who don't.

Randy Smith's picture

No I know that...But you can say target people interested in Weddings with an ad for wedding photography. So the marketing is targeted. Thoughts?

Brandon Adam's picture

I don't have a good answer for that but my hunch is no it won't do you much good. People are so bombarded with ads everyday that it'll just add to the noise.

Radoslaw Kazmierczak's picture

What do you think about focused ads? I mean very narrow. Is it not worth paying for as well?

Brandon Adam's picture

I don't have a good answer for that but my hunch is no, not worth it. In my opinion you still can't beat word of mouth. I have a refferal program in place in which I give clients 15 or so numbered cards. They are numbered so I know which client they came from if they are returned. They get a $25 credit in return for sending me a referral.