How to Optimize Your Facebook Posts for Maximum Shareability, considering algorithms & structure for maximum share-ability.As a business or organization employing Facebook for social reach, the ultimate objective of your efforts is to create shareable posts. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms have evolved quite rapidly since their birth in 2006. Understanding how these changes affect post visibility, coupled with taking a look at the type of posts that receive the most engagement, you will have the means to start generating stronger brand reach on this social platform.Let’s take a look at the history of EdgeRank, it’s development into the formula Facebook now uses to gauge post importance, and how you can start making sure your posts get more shares.

Past Changes to Facebook Algorithms

In the early stages of formulating post ranking, EdgeRank was the means for Facebook to determine which posts were the most important. It decided which content was chosen for News Feeds.

Original EdgeRank Formula

When originally in use, the algorithm formula included only only a small set of information to determine a post’s rank, as explained

  • Affinity – Closeness of relationship between the content source and the user: The more connected a user was with the content being posted, the more likely that content would show up on the user’s  News Feed. Passive views of content did not contribute to the affinity score.
  • Edge Weight – Type(s) of action taken on the content i.e. like, share, comment: Each action taken by a user, aside from clicks, would add to the weight of the post. Comments weighed more than likes. Liking a page via an ad may have weighed less than an organic stumble to the page.
  • Decay – length of time between when the content was posted and engagement happened: Stories would begin to lose points as they became older. Login frequency seemed to play a role in the decay of a post as well.

Marketing Land, when they announced the “death” of EdgeRank, described the 3-part formula as an advancement from “turning knobs” before they went on to explain the ranking method changes that had been freshly implemented in 2013.

Affinity, weight, and time decay are still important ranking factors for posts. Now, though, the measurements for post importance are much more complex. Taken into account are user relationships, opting-in to receive updates from certain users/ pages, post types, spam reporting, clicks, timeline views, devices used, story bumping (giving old stories a second chance if they have a high volume of interactions), and more. Rather than studying each of these factors individually, know that Facebook is doing their job well by continually updating their methods to provide users with “high quality” content.

Choosing High Quality Content for Your Posts

Survey after survey have been done to find out what types of posts get the most engagement. These are the types of posts that willcontinue to be shared at the top of News Feeds. When choosing what to share with users, use Facebook’s advice:

  • Make your posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with your audience
  • Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

What Users Won’t See in Their News Feeds

Facebook found out that their users didn’t like seeing posts that are too promotional, and announced on November 14, 2014, that they would start ignoring posts with certain traits. Now, posts with the goal of pushing people to buy something or install an application, asking people to enter promotions or sweepstakes without any real context, and those that contain re-use of old ad content will show up in users’ News Feeds less. This is important to understand when creating your posts, as using this type of content will instantly decrease your post reach.

How to Leverage This Information to Make Your Posts Rank Higher

When you’re ready to start implementing the above information into your posts, you first need to understand that your fans and friends aren’t necessarily going to see your post, initially, in their News Feeds. Likely, users will have to be opted-in to see your updates or have frequent engagement with your posts in order to see them right away. You’ll want to make sure that the feed is set up for shareability. By default, you should have all posts set to “Public” visibility. This way, when your content is shared, anyone can see it. From there, make sure that your posts are structured for optimum engagement.

Louise Meyers How-To Graphics shared an infographic with tons of useful information about increasing post engagement on Facebook. According to the statistics she shared and some personal experience, these tips will help you structure the perfect shareable posts for promoting your brand:

1. Images engage

Facebook posts with photos get 39% more interaction than those without.  Photos have 104% more comments and 84% more clicks than text-only posts. When you have something to say, choose an image to help you tell your story. Note: Don’t use anything for business purposes that may infringe on someone else’s copyright.

2. Keep text short and sweet

Status updates with under 80 characters of text seem to get 27% more likes than those with more. So, when you have a story to tell, find a way to condense it before you post.

3. Don’t  forget the emoticons

Facebook users seem to engage with posts that use emoticons like smiley and winky faces more than 1/3  more than those without. These posts have a 33% higher share rate, a 33% higher comment rate, and a 57% higher like rate.

4. Use your own photos with links

When posting your links to articles or other web content, share an image and a personal description of the content along with a link for users to click through. This type of post will generally get more engagement than if you let Facebook generate it’s own preview of the content.

5. Self-host videos on facebook

Even if you want to get users away from Facebook to another site, share your videos by uploading them to Facebook directly. You can include a link to other content along with the video if you like. Videos hosted in Facebook get more views than those shared from other sites like YouTube and Vimeo.