Facebook changed up their News Feed algorithm again in an effort to constantly improve our experience on the site. Their goal is for us to spend as much time as possible on Facebook and in an effort to keep us there they will now be featuring the most highly ranked posts first in our news feed followed by those with less engagement. What does that mean to all of us? In short, it means if you post something boring it now has even less of a chance of being seen. Let me explain.
According to Facebook at any one time there are on average 1,500 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see. It would of course be impossible for them to feed all that information to us and for us to be able to digest it. So they started running some tests and figured out that if they placed higher ranked content (judged by the amount of engagement, comments, likes, shares) on the top of our News Feed that people were sticking around longer to view it. On the other hand if they just posted popular stories in chronological order the amount of stories people actually read decreased.
I snapped this photo of my boys as they were playing with their basket boats in the living room. I decided to play along and use Photoshop to help them visualize their story coming to life. Within one hour of posting the photo on Facebook it currently has over 300 likes and 17 comments.
So how does the new algorithm work, and how as business page owners can we use it to our advantage?
The new News Feed will respond to signals from you, for example:
- How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
- The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
- How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
- Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post
In addition any organic stories that have received a lot of engagement which you never saw because you did not scroll far enough down will pop to the top of your News Feed the next time you check it. In the past this was just the case with paid sponsored stories, but now Facebook is rewarding the posts that are popular and making sure more people see it.
Now some people will react with the typical, "Damn you Facebook! No one will ever see my posts now." -- OR -- You can try to figure out a way to get people engaged on your posts and interacting with them so that you are rewarded with even more exposure. I suppose the last option would be to focus your attention on the new MySpace. I believe Justin Timberlake is still using it. Anyhow I digress.
My cat loves to sneak attack. So I grabbed my camera, manually powered down my flash, pre-focused and carried my camera at the hip. I then spent 15 minutes walking back and forth from the couch to the kitchen capturing these photos of him sneak attacking me. It gained over 1000 likes, 43 shares, and 115 comments. Thanks kitty!
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when posting to Facebook.
1. Stop posting boring stuff. You might have spent hours editing the photos but if it is boring no one will see it. Which leads me to point #2.
2. Make sure the photos you post tell a story, get people talking, show off something never before seen, or generate lots of likes. As a wedding photographer that means that posting a photo of the couple kissing during their wedding ceremony probably won't cut it. I need to find an image that is different, that is maybe even a bit avant garde. It is these photos that can draw people in within just a split second that will generate the engagement which will help your post soar.
3. Word your photo captions to help tell your story in as few of words as possible. Unless additional explanation is needed, keep your captions short and sweet.
4. Proof your captions for spelling and grammar before posting. Posts with these small mistakes can turn people off immediately.
5. Post at the proper time of day. Photographers love to work late into the night. Sadly many of them also love to post at 2am. It also happens to be the worst time to post on Facebook. If you have something great, resist the urge to toss it up immediately for a few feel good likes from your friends who happen to be up watching infomercials on TV. Save it till the next day and ideally try to post it right around lunch time.
While in Portland, Oregon shooting an engagement session the couple was kissing and I noticed a biker coming by out of the corner of my eye. I crouched down and continued shooting. Turned into a great photo bomb action shot. It gained over 350 likes, and 15 comments.
Something else that has worked well for me is sharing personal photos even on my Facebook business page. Future potential clients want to learn about us, our hobbies, our kids, our pets. Even though I am a wedding photographer I get more engagement from fans when I post up a shot of my kids or some kind of pet. People always LIKE photos of puppies... oh and cats. The internet can never get enough cats.
Now of course some people are going to read this and cry foul. "Trevor I am a wedding photographer, I will never post a photo of cats on my page." That's cool. I am not saying you have to do it. I am simply giving you the same tips I have used to build my fan base up over 15,000. I understand it's just a number. But it does help for future clients to see that you have quite a following and it's nice to have a lot more doors open for future potential business.