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Dirty secrets of the new Facebook news feed and how to solve them

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 10:09pm
AllVoices

You"ve probably heard that Facebook has changed the algorithm of what shows up in your news feed but you don"t know exactly how. That"s because Facebook isn"t telling you exactly how. The Facebook news feed algorithm, the complicated formula that determines which people"s posts do or don"t show up when you visit Facebook, is a closely held company secret.

Social media strategist Justin Kistner makes it his job to crack this closely held Facebook secret. Mr. Kistner is currently VP of strategy at the mobile marketing firm ShopIgniter and he"s run exhaustive Facebook analysis patterns to crack the algorithm"s code. His work has been recognized by Facebook when his company was named a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer three times. Justin Kistner does not work for Facebook -- which is why he"s able to go public with the findings of his Facebook research.

Mr. Kistner presented a thorough analysis of his first batch of data on the new Facebook news feed algorithm at an ad:tech SF session called “Facebook Native Advertising: Four Key Lessons.” The PowerPoint slides of his presentation are now available and they are massively helpful for understanding how to get your posts seen with the new Facebook algorithm.

You think the only way to get seen on Facebook is to pay Facebook more for advertising? Paying Facebook is important if you want your posts to go viral but it"s not a complete strategy. This ShopIgniter analysis showed your unpaid posts will be seen by around 5 percent of your followers, whereas paid posts can be seen by around 16 percent. "Without paid, there really isn"t viral," Mr. Kistner pointed out. "If you"re trying to drive viral traffic through unpaid posts, it"s not going to work."

A complete Facebook marketing strategy absolutely needs to involve mobile-optimizing your Web page or implementing your mobile app. Facebook doesn"t want to just "keep you on Facebook" anymore. Their long-term business focus is switching to what they call "off-Facebook value." "They would prefer to be seen as a platform that drives people to other experiences," Kistner said. "It"s about lead generation and e-commerce, or more traditional marketing methods."

Want proof? Text-only status posts have 65 percent fewer views since the algorithm change. Posts with links embedded have 30 percent more views since the change. If you want to be seen on Facebook, you need to link.

But the big push is toward links to apps or mobile-optimized webpages. Facebook knows that their users are transitioning very strongly to using Facebook just on mobile devices. Mr. Kistner estimates that 80 percent of Facebook users are on the mobile Facebook every day, and more than a third of Facebook users only check Facebook on their mobile screen. That percentage is growing daily.

The desktop experience is becoming less relevant, in Facebook"s opinion. "If you don"t focus on mobile, you"re shooting yourself in the foot," Kistner said.

Kistner recommends going all in on either a mobile web page or a mobile app, and linking to these in your Facebook posts. His PowerPoint presentation has some excellent examples of optimized mobile pages that have performed very well under the new Facebook algorithm. I strongly recommend you spend some serious time studying Slide 16 – “Social + Mobile Optimized: Unique features that support social ad campaigns.”

It"s a mistake to assume that the Facebook algorithm change is just a grab to squeeze more advertising dollars. Facebook is trying to fundamentally change what you post and the actions readers take when they see your posts. Facebook wants to reward advertisers who post mobile-optimized experiences. If you haven"t started a strategy for how to mobile-optimize your web site, you need to do so immediately – or be stuck with just that dwindling 5 percent of your friends and fans seeing your Facebook posts.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest, longest-running digital marketing and technology event. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.

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