6 tips to make the Facebook algorithm work for your business in 2020

As a small business owner you try to keep your Facebook account updated, posting interesting content constantly. If you’re a hairstylist for example, you post wonderful pictures of the hairstyles and colors you experiment with, you share useful hair tips and advice for your clients. But somehow you really struggle to get more likes and shares. All of this, while the other salon has a massive amount of likes on their page. Why is that, you ponder… Are you missing something? Aham. It’s the Facebook algorithm which gets updated all the time, making small businesses invest more effort into making their brand visible on the social network. Facebook reach drops for small businesses. So, is there a way to crack the algorithm and make it work for you?

What is “Facebook algorithm” and why should you care?

Facebook algorithm is the set of calculations that Facebook uses in order to decide what content you and your social media followers should see. It used to be simple at the beginning, as Facebook was showing content in chronological order. But oh boy, oh boy how things changed in the last couple of years! A facepalm emoticon would fit so right here…   

In 2018, Facebook was facing massive criticism for the quantity of ads they were showing, the lack of enough useful information for users, etc. Faced with all of that, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook “will prioritize content that sparks conversations and meaningful interactions among users”. This sounded like a great threat for businesses, as their content was no longer prioritized as powerful, as posts from friends, family and Facebook groups. The algorithm was set to prioritize content that earned a lot of high value engagements, such as reactions, comments, replies and shares.  

Now in 2020, Facebook says that they are going to help users understand the algorithm and take more control of the ranking factors. These ranking factors are “data points about a user’s past behaviour, and the behaviour of everyone else on the platform, too”. That means collecting data such as: are people sharing a certain post with their friends? How often do you like posts from your boss, your mom, brother, sister, professor, co-workers, etc.? What’s your favorite group? How often do you watch live videos? How many posts can you look at right now? How recent are they? 

After putting together answers to these questions and throwing a whole bunch more factors into the mix, Facebook finally decides to show you the gel nails photo of your babysitter, the sunset giraffe picture from Kenya, or the “Happy birthday, Mom” post that a co-worker shared. Now adapt these little examples to your own small business field and the information will be according to the profile of your clients and the pages you follow. You care about beating the Facebook algorithm in order for your clients to see your posts and interact with them. Facebook doesn’t show your business page content unless it’s really relevant for your clients, and they get engaged with what you share. 

Facebook ranking factors 

The three main categories of ranking factors mentioned by Facebook are: 1. Who a user interacts with on Facebook. 2. How popular the post is. 3. The type of media in the post – video, photo, link. That must be the reason why in the spring of 2019, Facebook introduced a button to build transparency and user control on the newsfeed, called “Why am I seeing this post?” If you tap on it, it will tell you that the post is more popular compared to other posts you’ve seen. If you need more explanations, it will show you how many people have seen the post and pretty much who they are . 

The VEGAN makeup brush 

Here’s an illustration of what Facebook algorithm would favorize, if you’re a makeup artist for example. Let’s say you’re also vegan or vegetarian. You share on your Facebook business page an article about “the best vegan professional makeup brushes”. For the sake of the example, let’s say you see on Facebook and share this specific article

Now some of your clients probably know that you’re vegan and they admire your love for animals. But as with everything in life, some may admire it and some may not. But as you share this article, the conversation starts. The dialog is ignited between your users. They comment about makeup brushes made of animal hair, versus the benefits of the new cruelty free brushes, made of synthetic material. Pro and cons on each side, and good vibes in general. 

Facebook is happy. Your few vegan clients would probably defend their position. Comments flowing about how sad and cruel it is to produce makeup brushes from animal hair, from cute little weasels, squirrels, ponies or goats. They share lots of animal love, aiming to convince the other side about the importance of using vegan makeup brushes. So there’s a conversation and interesting debate going on, which pleases Facebook. 

At this point only a number of your followers were shown your post. Facebook is still waiting to see if it’s worth sharing it with more of your clients. Then some friends of your followers see this article, and they send your followers a Facebook message sharing the article with them. 

Those friends may not understand the vegan “phase” the person is going through, so they might add a somewhat mischievous comment like: “why in the world would someone call “vegan” some plastic hair brushes? Anyhow, these products might be spot on for you, girl! ;)” By this point, Facebook is convinced that the article is very relevant to your followers, so it gives it priority, putting it at the top of the newsfeed, so that more of your followers would see it and join in the conversation. We hope this little example helped illustrate the algorithm a little more. 

How can you make the Facebook algorithm work for you?

1. Create conversations

There must be many topics related to your small business that your clients would be interested in, topics that can create conversation among your followers. For example, clients don’t know enough when it comes to taking care of their hair. As a stylist wanting to build your social media presence and be more relevant on Facebook, you can do a good job at informing people about the newest hair trends, latest colors, craziest haircuts, etc. And doing that in a conversational way, igniting dialogs and interactions among users. 

For example, under a theme like “did you guys know that…?”, and you ask and share useful tips about how to get rid of splits ends, how to stop hair fall, or tips for dealing with greasy hair. All of these topics should be valuable info for your followers. Here you can check out the reasons your followers love sharing online and the content they expect from your social media channels, to get more ideas about what your Facebook page content could look like. 

2. Post at the right time

Yes, there is a best time for posting on Facebook. And we’ve covered this topic in a whole article here. The idea is that you should post on Facebook when your followers are online. So posting in the middle of the night would not convince Facebook too much that your content is worth showing. You can find out details about what works best from your Facebook Insights

When are your followers online? What days and times seem to engage more people in general? Check out what worked best from your experience so far. As a general idea and depending on your business, the best times to post on Facebook could be during weekdays at noon, around your clients’ lunch break. There are good times in the first part of the morning too. But keep in mind that the engagement drops after 4pm-5pm. Is that something you’ve noticed too on your business page? What days and hours work best for you? 

3. Never post fake news or content that is copied 

There are things that can downgrade you on Facebook. Posting links that go to pages with stolen content, or posting offensive content, fake news or fake (manipulated) videos will rank you negatively in the algorithm. Facebook likes common sense, honesty, creativity and originality.  

When posting on your small business Facebook page, always be genuine, kind, professional and inspiring. Think about your Social Media strategy when deciding on the content you post. 

By the way, if you’re just starting to be active on social media as a business owner, here’s a little something for you. You’ve probably just started your small business as an independent beauty industry professional, health and fitness trainer, counselor or other small business, and you might want to first look at some Facebook marketing ideas to start with. Here you can check out 5 ways to make your small business stand out in 2020, in order to make sure you have the basic bases covered first. 

4. Do Facebook LIVE videos, find the goldfish

Before getting into the live videos, we should first mention that Facebook rates video content better than the photos and text posts. According to Facebook’s algorithm, your page would be ranked better if you post videos, and ranked best when you post LIVE videos. 

To understand how important this is for Facebook, you should know that they rank LIVE videos, 6 times higher than another normal video. So doing Facebook LIVE videos is like finding the golden fish and getting your social media engagement wishes fulfilled. 

The important thing to know about videos is that they should be original, and not copied from others. Facebook wants your business to add value and bring useful information to clients, so that people would return to watch your videos. That being said, if you can keep people entertained for more than 1 minute on your video, that’s a good sign. Aiming for 3-5 minutes videos at least, should be the goal though. Facebook really likes that. 

What could you talk about in a LIVE video? There are a million options, from sharing how a day at the salon is for you if you’re a stylist, to new haircut trends, to showing how you mix colors and apply highlights on your client’s hair. You can also start a little series of advice on hair and styling. Maybe at some point you can also mention other services that a client can benefit from at your salon. Possibly on top of haircuts and color services, the salon also offers makeup, waxing, tanning, etc. This can be a way of promoting other services, and introduce other team members working with you. It’s all about offering a more complete experience to your client. 

Educational videos on healthy hair products, could be another idea you clients would enjoy and engage with. Teaching clients about their hair type and the products they should use, how and when they should apply them, can be another video topic. 

As mentioned above, your videos should be a minimum of 3 minutes to keep users engaged. If you want your video to serve as an education class for your users, you can definitely go longer, especially if it’s live. While being “on camera”, remember to smile a lot and have the most positive attitude and energy. You always want to spread good vibes!

5. Tell people to add your business to “See first”

Together with the ideas already mentioned to beat the Facebook algorithm, another action could be informing your followers about how to see your posts more frequently. Tell them how they can read what you post and not miss important details. Teach your clients about how they can check the “See first” preference. This lets Facebook know that your company’s posts are important for them. 

You can inform your clients about “See first” directly on Facebook, as well as through an email marketing campaign. Many times followers don’t know why they can’t see your posts anymore, as in the past. So teach your followers about how Facebook works and how they can support your small business. 

6. Inform, educate, entertain and post often! 

You need to post often on Facebook, to be constant with your content. On top of your excellent hair stylist skills, you have great communication skills. So use them! Being constant in your posting is a factor that thrills Facebook and helps beat the algorithm. 

You’re a great professional and your Facebook page should be mainly used to inform, educate and entertain your followers. Let’s mention here just in case, that the majority of your posts should never be about promoting your brand. 

Actually, less than 20% of your post should be promotional, so that your followers keep being engaged to your page. Keeping their level of interest high with strong engagement is a good Facebook objective. Thus, posting frequently, like daily (but no more than three posts a day preferably) or every other day. The frequency of posting on Facebook is another method towards fulfilling your social media objectives. For topics on what to write about, and how to know your audience better, here are 7 effective ideas to create the spectacular social media content that resonates with your clients

It might seem like a lot of information, but don’t be overwhelmed. Facebook algorithms and all their tons of complicated calculations are not worth stressing over and chewing pencils for. You’re running a small business, providing excellent services, and being a visionary. You’ve already got what it takes! So try to put these ideas into practice, and see what comes out. Take heart, post good stuff, do the right thing and make that Facebook algorithm work for you, champ! YOU can do it!

Emilia is Marketing Director at Appointfix, an app helping professionals and small businesses easily schedule appointments and reduce client no-shows using automated text reminders. Feel free to drop her an email at emilia.pustan@appointfix.com.