Kissing Up to the Facebook and Google+ Algorithms
There’s a fine line between making social media useless by posting things that aren’t relevant for business and making it ineffective by having posts that are too promotional, thus killing the posts through “death by algorithm”. Done right, businesses have the ability to be interesting enough to make the algorithms like them while being relevant enough to get a benefit out of the networks.
It’s a relatively complex formula used by both Google+ and Facebook when determining whether or not to present a post to people in their feeds, but the process to master them is pretty simple. The basics summed up in a sentence is this: by mixing in likeable content with business-relevant content at the appropriate levels and applying the right amount of advertising pressure (at least with Facebook), business posts have the ability to keep the algorithms happy while still getting the business messages out.
Understanding the Two Styles
There are two types of content that should be posted on Facebook and Google+. The first and most common type is the “happy” post. It’s the type of content that your fans will enjoy. It’s normally not business-relevant other than that it should pertain to the type of business or local area. In the image above, a Mazda dealer posts an image of a hot Mazda vehicle. It performed well – on a page with under 600 fans it received over 30 likes. This is positive for the algorithm and will help future posts find exposure on news feeds.
The other type of post is a “money” post. It’s business relevant. It is designed to drive foot traffic, website traffic, or both. It promotes a sale, a community event relevant to the business, or a message of some sort that the business wants exposed.
Mix it Up
There’s no formula for this, unfortunately. In other words, it’s not a matter of posting 4 happy posts for every 1 money post. Every page has different thresholds and diverse fans that make it necessary to test, test, and retest before determining the right strategy.
The key is to keep it changing. You don’t want to let your fans get fatigued. In other words, a dealership that posts car picture after car picture will eventually force people to stop liking the posts. Keep it fresh. Try new things. While we definitely do not recommend mixing in anything that isn’t relevant (cat pictures, for example), there are plenty of things going on in the local area and at the business itself that allows a page to continue to succeed against the algorithm.
A Warning About Facebook Ads
Facebook ads work. We use them efficiently as part of our client’s strategy. They have a caveat that must be noted, though, and it’s a mistake that more and more businesses are making every day.
They are a two-edged sword. While they’re great for getting more exposure to the page and to individual posts, they can also hurt a page. If the wrong posts are highlighted through Facebook ads, it can have the opposite effect than intended. Posts that get a ton of negative sentiment through Facebook ads can cause future posts to be invisible to just about everyone who has the potential to see them. Keep in mind that Facebook and Google+ are both aware of visibility.
In other words, they know when someone is scanning their news feed and when they pass over a post without interacting with it. Every time they see a post and do nothing with it, they are telling Facebook and Google+ that they didn’t find your content worthy of engagement. This effects their chances of seeing future posts.
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The algorithms are not difficult to master. They just take understanding and a willingness to test, test, and retest. Are you willing to make the effort?