If you didn’t know already, Facebook is one of the social media platforms that constantly updates and changes their news feed algorithm to improve what posts visitors see in their news feed.  Over the years, these tweaks seem to lean towards progressively getting businesses to pay if they want to reach a higher percentage of their page fans. Nevertheless, there are many times you can counteract their effect, at least to a certain degree, by switching up your Facebook strategy.

Here are two of the most recent changes:

1.) Reducing links to low-quality web page experiences

This is another version of many other algorithm updates Facebook has made to reduce the number of click-bait type content. The problem with this type of update is that Facebook is not necessarily manually checking every link.  As a result, your web page might be rated as a low-quality experience even if it isn’t the typical click-bait style site.  Here are a few flags that are triggered programmatically to indicate to Facebook that the link leads to a low-quality experience;

Short visit– If the person visiting the link clicks away or closes the window within a few seconds of having visited, this is the most substantive indicator that the content on the page is what they consider “low quality”.

The best way to avoid this flag is by providing landing pages or links to content that your fans want to read, watch, or interact with for at a minimum of a minute or longer, keeping in mind that 2 minutes or more would be ideal.  A minute might seem like a relatively short period to keep someone interested in the content on the page, however, with people’s ever-shrinking attention spans, this is a much more daunting task than some might assume.  If what you are linking to can be reviewed and digested within 30 seconds or less, it might be smarter to just post it natively to Facebook instead of taking a ding to your EdgeRank (the algorithm by which Facebook decides to serve up your content) score which will affect how well all future postings will reach your fan page audience.

Also keep in mind that as you accumulate “negative points” for these individual links, Facebook counts them against the entire domain – so, for example, if Facebook flags www.yourdomain.com/my-newest-article as a low-quality link, it will begin to consider all links that start with www.yourdomain.com as low-quality links, no matter what comes after the slash (/).

Pop-up ads or lightboxes – It wasn’t that long ago that pop-ups were the bane of our online existence. Later, sites began to implement ads in lightboxes or modals – a kind of pop-up that doesn’t open in the web page via a script or other types of programming – so that they couldn’t be blocked by pop-up blockers until ultimately sites started to figure out that visitors hate any kind of ad that keeps them from viewing what they came to the site to view.  Even so, they haven’t gone away completely; most sites have just modified their use to only make asks related to the site or brand itself, such as signing up for a newsletter, following them on social media, or just sharing the article, which can be a great list or follower builder. Unfortunately, Facebook makes no differentiation between these new uses and the pop-up windows of old.

If you have any kind call-to-action (CTA), regardless of whether it opens a secondary tab/window or if it is a lightbox that opens within your web page, Facebook will flag the page as a low-quality experience because you are serving up an “ad” instead of taking the user immediately to view the content they are expecting to visit. You will need to make a judgement call about what side of the trade-off you want to land on; either use the pop-up to build your list of followers and get penalized by EdgeRank, or work a little harder to build your list by placing these CTAs in places that don’t disrupt the site visitors’ view, consequently keeping your organic reach safe from being affected by making sure your domain isn’t flagged as “low quality”.  In the end, as with most things, it is all about moderation and proper use-.

Broken-up articles or excessive ads– You may have seen sites that show 20 or more ads and links to other articles, or alternately, gallery-style articles that are broken up over several pages and that require the reader to click a “next” button to get through. The purpose for these types of links is to either rack up page visits or to serve the viewer multiple ads in one visit to get paid more for additional impressions, but either way it is another tactic that Facebook considers a low-quality experience since the user simply wants to get to their content without being distracted, as well as read through the content with the least amount of effort.

The bottom line with these types of links or articles, don’t use them unless you absolutely have a specific need to increase your page views or serve up ads.

 

2.) Latest Conversations

On mobile, users will now begin to see “Latest Conversations” in their search results that will display the most recent public posts about hot topics they may be seeking, similar to how people may watch what is “trending” on Twitter. As of the date of this article, this new feature only applies to mobile and not desktop, however, will surely be updated on desktop as well.

As with the use of hashtags, this new update reiterates how important and useful it can be for brands to chime in on current topics, news and pop-culture in an appropriate manner in order to reach users that otherwise will only be exposed to the brand via this means.   However, trying to post about every trending topic should not be the top priority when creating content.

This article is intended to provide a general overview of a few of the most recent changes Facebook has implemented as well as some suggestions for what should be done with this information either to avoid being affected negatively by it or take advantage of increased reach.  At the end of the day, if we here at C+C are managing your social media platforms you can trust that we are constantly working to balance goals and changes for you.

You can read more about these updates here:

https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/05/reducing-links-to-low-quality-web-page-experiences/

https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/05/facebook-debuts-a-twitter-like-latest-conversations-feature-that-shows-public-posts-about-buzzing-topics/