Facebook: Nobody Can See You

Note: This topic is based around those using Facebook as individual people. However, much of this also applies for organic reach for Pages. Facebook Page specific content can be found in next week’s installment.

Let’s set the scene:

It’s Monday morning. You’ve gotten into the office. You spent yesterday with the family, and you’re booting up the work station to get into the suck known as Monday morning in most jobs.

What’s the first thing you do?

You’re damn right. You’ve logged into Facebook. And you see photos that everybody took of the weekend’s debauchery, but wonder why your post has barely registered any likes or comments.

No, it’s not that people don’t like you. Well, maybe that’s true. But really, it’s more because you don’t understand how to work within Facebook.

This post is designed to explain how Facebook chooses to populate the News Feed, which is where almost all activity on Facebook is centered.

  • Why do certain posts wind up in your Top Stories?
  • Why do I miss posts from friends?
  • How can I use this knowledge to my advantage?

First, though, there are a couple of definitions we need to cover:

Facebook uses an algorithm (formerly dubbed EdgeRank) to populate the News Feed. This algorithm is comprised of many components, which we’ll cover in a minute.

Each and every post, photo, video, link, etc. is ranked within this algorithm. So when you post a photo of your dog playing in the snow, Facebook sees content that needs to be ranked in the algorithm.

This is the heart of Facebook. This algortihm is used to determine approximately the Top 300 organic posts that a user would see in a given 24 hour period.

Keep in mind that it is a live 24 hour period, though. Your Facebook friends are continually posting to Facebook, generating new content to be ranked in the algorithm. What may have ranked at 8:00 AM may no longer rank to be seen by the same person by 3:00 PM.

Now, 300 posts may sound like a lot, but when you consider that the average Facebook user would be eligible to see 1500 posts in a 24 hour period…that means you’re really only seeing the top 20% of content that Facebook has to offer.

I can hear all of you now: so how do I get my content into that Top 20%??

Well, there are multiple factors that determine that. As of the most recent re-write of the algorithm, these are the things that matter the most (in no particular order):

Type of Content

The kind of thing that you post to Facebook matters. Facebook tracks the interactivity and likelihood of virality on every kind of post being shared.

In general, items that keep users engaged within Facebook will rank higher than items that send users outside of Facebook. In fact, Facebook has now taken to punishing links that send people to a third-party site, and those people then immediately bounce off of that site (people who immediately exit the page without clicking anything on it).

This means that videos posted directly to Facebook will generally perform better versus uploads from YouTube. It’s simply sound strategy; as of November 2014, videos uploaded directly to Facebook generated 80% of all interactions on video posts.

Videos and photos will rank much more highly than posts including links outside of Facebook or plain text. Lists also have shown explosive growth as of late.

Proximity of Relationship

This doesn’t mean “does this friend live close nearby?” Instead, this is about how frequently you engage one another on Facebook.

So yes, you need to be an active participant in other people’s posts in order to establish this. You can’t just be a content provider; you also need to be providing value for others.

After all, these people are your friends; it’s a two-way street! Unless, of course, this person always comments, likes, or shares your content. Then, and only then, is a one-way street fine.

One other effective tool: make sure you tag people/companies in these posts; it creates a notification for that person, which makes it more likely for them to engage with your content when they check the notification.

Recency of relationship

New relationships are exciting. You’re getting to know this person! So, when you become a friend with somebody, you’re more likely to see their posts in your News Feed, so that way you can continue that feeling out period over the largest social network in the world.

This also carries over to organic content from Pages that you like. You are more likely to see content from a Page when you first like it, as you are showing interest in staying up-to-date with them by liking their Page.

However, recency of relationship has been more recently de-emphasized.

Virality index

This comes up as part of having content that got liked, commented, or shared; Facebook adds weight to these items to have them appear in other friends’ Feeds.

The added bonus of having viral content? If people are continually adding comments, likes, or shares for days, your story may appear in News Feed a second time, for days on end!

Trending Story

Are you posting about a hot button issue? With the advent of the trending story, if you weigh in with your own thoughts on one of these topics, it is also likely to appear in the middle of News Feed.

For trending stories, there are four ways you can appear in the feed (the first, Articles, only applies to News Agencies):

  1. In the Story: posts from people who are part of that story.
  2. Friends and Groups: Your friends on Facebook posting about that story.
  3. Near the Scene: Posts from users geographically proximate to where the story is happening.
  4. Live Feed: Real-time stream of thoughts and reactions on the story.

The Takeaway: What Do I Do?

There are three ways for you to start improving your posts on Facebook to reach more of your friends:

  • Post once a day yourself; comment on at least three people’s News Feed items; like five more.
  • When you post, make sure it is at least tagged with a person if it is text (unless you’re sure of the virality of the post); otherwise, lists, photos, and videos are best.
  • Add new friends to Facebook as you can tolerate new people.

photo credit: Ray Charles via photopin (license)

About the Author

Ryan Heisler
Ryan Heisler is a digital marketing specialist with a specific focus on search engine, social media, and content marketing. He is also a veteran of the specialty running and triathlon industry, having spent a decade managing stores in New England and the mid-Atlantic. He is also a former sports talk radio host at WERS-FM in Boston and holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.