Facebook Algorithm: Understanding how it works and taking advantage of it (2022 edition)

This article explains how the 2022 version of the Facebook algorithm prioritizes content and will help you give more visibility to yours.

The Facebook algorithm. Love it or hate it, one thing is sure: you have to understand it to succeed in marketing on the world’s largest social network.

On average, an organic Facebook Page generates an engagement rate of only 0.07%. To improve this score, you need to understand how the algorithm works and show that your content is valuable, authentic, and worthy of appearing in your followers’ Feed.

Table of Contents

What is the Facebook algorithm?

A brief chronology of the Facebook algorithm

How the Facebook algorithm will work in 2022

Eight tips to take advantage of the Facebook algorithm

Bonus: Download our free guide to turn your Facebook traffic into sales through 4 easy steps

What is the Facebook algorithm?

As soon as a user visits their Facebook Feed, the algorithm decides which posts will appear and in what order.

Facebook’s algorithm evaluates each post and then organizes them in descending (non-chronological) order of interest to each user. Every time one of the network’s 2.9 billion users updates their Feed, this process is performed.

We don’t know exactly how Facebook’s algorithm chooses which posts to display (or not say), but we do know that, like all recommendation algorithms on social media, one of its goals is to get users to stay on the platform, so they see more ads.

Facebook was even fiercely criticized in 2021 because its algorithm prioritized controversial content, which often generates maximum engagement and can even trigger the “compulsive use” of the platform.

In 2018, voices were raised, fearing that the algorithm promotes outrage, division, and political polarization while promoting false information and marginal content.

For its part, Facebook explains that its algorithm aims to help users “discover new content and engage with the news they are most interested in” while “keeping spam and misleading content away.” As we’ll see, recent changes to the Facebook algorithm were indeed intended to address concerns about content quality and privacy.

A brief chronology of the Facebook algorithm

The Facebook algorithm is constantly changing. Indeed, Meta has an entire team working on artificial intelligence and machine learning. One of its missions? To improve the algorithms that allow Facebook users to view the most engaging content to them.

Over time, the network has evolved the list of signals used to classify content: some have been added, others have been removed, and still, others have seen their weight change. These changes reflect a single fact: Facebook seeks to show its users what it thinks they want to see.

Here’s a recap of the most notable milestones and developments in the Facebook algorithm.

2009: the first algorithm was implemented to make the publications with the most “likes” appear at the top of the News Feed.

2015: Facebook begins to rank less healthy Pages that publish too much promotional content. The network rolls out the “See First” feature, allowing users to indicate that they would like a given Page’s posts to appear first on their News Feed.

2016: Facebook adds the “time spent on post” ranking signal to measure the value of posts based on the number of time users spend on them, even if they don’t share them or click “Like.”

2017: Facebook begins to give more weight to reactions (Likes or Grrr) than Likes. Another ranking signal is added for videos: completion rate. Videos that users watch to completion are shown to more users.

2018: Facebook’s new algorithm prioritizes “posts that spark interesting conversations and interactions.” Posts from friends, family, and Facebook groups are prioritized over organic content on Pages. Brands now need to generate many more interactions to signal the algorithm positively.

2019: Facebook prioritizes original, high-quality videos that engage its viewers for longer than a minute. This priority is further strengthened for videos with more than 3 minutes of attention. Facebook is also starting to highlight content from your “close friends” – the people you interact with the most. The “Why am I seeing this post?” tool is rolled out.

2020: Facebook reveals some information about its algorithm to help users understand how content is delivered and help them keep track of their data to inform the algorithm better. It begins to evaluate the credibility and quality of news articles to highlight those backed by facts rather than misinformation.

2021:Facebook reveals new information about its algorithm and gives users better access to their data. Here is his explanation of the algorithm in 2021.

How Facebook’s algorithm works in 2022

What is the situation in 2022? First of all, the “news feed” is gone! When you scroll down on Facebook, the content is now grouped in the “Feed.”

Facebook claims that “the News Feed shows you relevant and informative news.” Since 2022, Facebook’s algorithm has identified these news items based on three main signals:

Author of the post: you’re more likely to see content from sources you’ve interacted with, including friends and businesses.

Content-type: If you interact more with videos, you’ll see more videos. You’ll know this media most frequently if you’re more into photos.

Interactions with the publication: the Feed prioritizes content that generates the most interactions, especially those interactions often come from people you interact with.

These different signals are evaluated for each post to determine where to display it on the Feed.

Facebook also allows users to train the algorithm and customize their Feed:

Favorites: users can select up to 30 people and Pages and add them to their choices (formerly “See First”). Posts from these accounts will be ranked higher on the Feed. To access favorites, click the down arrow in the upper-right corner of Facebook, then click Settings & Privacy > Feed Preferences.

Options in the Feed: Click on any post to display the I don’t want to see this option. Then choose Hide Post to tell Facebook that you want to see fewer posts of this type on your Feed. For ads, there is an equivalent option called Hide Ad. Facebook will then provide you with various options to specify why you want to hide the ad. This will help the network understand which types of advertisers you are interested in and which ones you would rather avoid.

Finally, the platform will remove all content that does not comply with the Facebook Community Standards. It may also “remove or restrict audiences to certain types of sensitive content,” such as “posts containing nudity, hate speech, violence, and explicit content.”

Eight tips for leveraging the Facebook algorithm

1. Determine what your audience wants to see

Facebook states that it prioritizes “relevant and informative” content. But what exactly does that mean?

Exciting news: news that the user will want to discuss with friends and family, and the amount of time they spend reading it (based on their past behavior).

Informative news: this is content that is considered “new, interesting and informative,” which, of course, depends on the user.

To understand what is relevant and informative to your audience, you must first understand their interests and behaviors and therefore study them. We have a free template to help you get started.

2. Create accurate and authentic content

Facebook says that “the Facebook community values accurate and authentic content. The network also says that posts considered authentic by its users will be ranked higher in the Feed. At the same time, it seeks to reduce the ranking of publications “deemed misleading, sensationalist and undesirable.”

Here are two quick tips to let the algorithm know that your content is accurate and authentic:

Write clear titles: make sure your title describes the content of your post. It’s okay to be creative but avoid exaggerated and misleading labels.

Be honest: truth above all. Avoid sensationalism, exaggeration, and lies. Using these ploys to boost engagement can get you flagged (badly) by the algorithm.

Conversely, here are some mistakes to avoid:

Links to sites that use third-party or plagiarized content without added value

Borderline content (which is not explicitly forbidden but probably should be)

Disinformation and fake news

Misleading health information or dangerous “cures

Deepfake or manipulated videos reported as counterfeit by third-party verification media

3. Don’t try to manipulate the algorithm

Did you think the whole point of our article was to manipulate the algorithm? Not. We’re trying to explain how the algorithm works to help you understand what content Facebook deems attractive to its users.

It’s then up to you to determine how these broad principles apply to your audience. Then, all you have to do is create content that works, which will send positive signals to the algorithm.

Bonus: Download our free guide to turning your Facebook traffic into sales through 4 easy steps

Download our guide now!

You are manipulating the algorithm with these ranking signals to gain undue visibility. For example, you could pay for interactions or comments or implement other nefarious strategies to optimize your reach. Facebook will consider this to be spam. Don’t go down that road.

Our message is quite simple: adapt to the algorithm without trying to fake it.

4. Interact with your audience

The algorithm prioritizes the publications of Pages with which the user has already interacted. Direct consequence: you have to answer to a maximum of people.

If a user takes the trouble to comment on your publication, seize this opportunity. Show them that you have read their comment by replying to them: this person will be more likely to continue commenting on your publications in the future. Of course, all these actions are perceived very positively by the algorithm. If you ignore your audience, they will stop interacting with you.

Pro tip: Hootsuite Inbox makes it easy to manage these conversations at scale, whether you’re a solopreneur or supported by a whole team of community managers.

5. Create a sense of community among your audience

Remember, we saw that the algorithm highlights content that people want to share and talk about with their friends. To send that signal, all you have to do is encourage your audience to do just that.

This advice comes directly from Facebook. If a post triggers a lot of discussion among a user’s friends, the algorithm can point them to that post, even if they’ve already seen it.

To get your audience to share and discuss your content, check out our tips for boosting engagement on Facebook.

6. Rely on stories and especially reels

Reels and stories escape the algorithm of the main Feed. They appear in tabs at the top of the Feed, above all other content, allowing you to bypass the algorithm.

Facebook Reels in the Feed

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

In February 2022, Facebook opened up reels to the entire world, not just the United States. The network claims that half of the time spent on Facebook and Instagram is spent watching videos and that “reels are the fastest-growing format.

They are designed to promote discovery. In contrast, the Feed mostly features relevant content from people and brands you’re already connected to.

If you’re looking to attract newcomers, don’t overlook the importance of reels. Facebook says it’s “making reels the best way for creators to get exposure. Brands will also be able to build new relationships using reels if they produce quality content.

In addition to the tab at the top of the Feed, reels can be shared in stories and viewed in the Watch tab. Facebook is also starting to add suggested spins within the Feed from people the user is not yet following.

7. Don’t forget the basic posts

But didn’t we explain that you should focus on video? Well, not quite. To boost your engagement statistics, you may be tempted to implement complicated strategies that take advantage of the algorithm. Yet, a post without a photo, video, or link has its value.

According to the latest study conducted by Hootsuite, a post of this type generates, on average, the best engagement rate (0.13%). This rate is 0.11% for photos, 0.08% for videos and 0.03% for links.

Facebook engagement figures

Source: Hootsuite, The State of Digital in the World in 2022

8. Expand your reach with your strongest advocates

Your employees have more credibility and authority with the Facebook algorithm than your Brand Page because they share content with their followers and loved ones, who trust them more.

Want to evaluate the potential impact of this method? We have the solution: our tool calculates the possible reach of your employees when you invite them to share your brand content on their social media accounts. Hootsuite Amplify allows your employees to safely share your content and increase the visibility of your messages.

Affiliates can also help you expand your reach and brand credibility. Please give them the resources and training to talk about you on Facebook and grow your target audience through their algorithmic signals.

Manage your Facebook and other social media presence with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, share videos, interact with your audience, and measure your success from a single dashboard. Try our solution for free today.

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