How The Game Of Facebook Algorithm Works In 2021

How The Game Of Facebook Algorithm Works In 2021

Sep 9, 2021 13 min read

Have you ever wondered why some of your Facebook posts gain many likes, shares, and comments, but others just seem to get a few engagements from your most loyal followers? It all boils down to the Facebook algorithm.

Every Facebook user sees a unique news feed molded by the Facebook algorithm according to their past behavior and the kind of content they interact with. As a result of this, it becomes difficult to reach all your followers with a single post. On average, your organic Facebook posts will reach just 5% of your followers.

Facebook used to be quite secretive about its algorithm, but lately, it has released more information on how it ranks content. This guide will explore how some of the most common Facebook algorithms function and tricks to hack them.

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What Is Facebook Algorithm?

The Facebook algorithm is the one that decides which posts users will see every time they check their feed and the order in which those posts will show up on the feed.

Instead of presenting several Facebook posts in chronological order, the Facebook algorithm evaluates every post to see if it's of the user's interest, scores it according to major ranking signals, and arranges it in descending order of interest. This process results in creating a customized feed for every Facebook user-tailored as per their topics of interest.

As Facebook engineers are constantly tinkering with the algorithm to improve the user experience, it isn't static.

How Does Facebook Algorithm Work?

Facebook released new details on how its algorithm works in 2021 through a blog post. The Facebook algorithm 2021 for ranking several posts on users’ news feed is based on four factors.

1. Inventory

Inventory is the total number of posts available to Facebook to show for a specific user in their news feed.

2. Signals

Signals are the only part of the Facebook algorithm which you can control as a marketer. They are further divided into two categories: Passive and Active.

  • Passive signals include non-active metrics such as view time, story type, and time posted.

  • Active signals include actions that promote engagement, such as likes, reactions, shares, and comments.

The new Facebook algorithm changes focus heavily on meaningful interactions. Hence, the algorithm attributes more weight to active signals as they drive genuine interactions. The four most important ranking signals for the Facebook algorithm in 2021 are:

a. Relationships

Facebook looks if the post is from a person, news source, business, or a public figure with which the other users often engage. Engagements here include messaging, tagging, following, etc.

Interactions between users and pages carry less weight.

b. Popularity

How are other Facebook users who have already seen the post reacting to it? Do they like it, drop in a comment, reacting to it, or completely ignoring it?

c. Content-Type

What types of posts (i.e., video, link, image) do users interact with most? How informative is the post? And how much time do users spend on the post?

d. Recency

Newer posts get shown first. When was it posted, and what time is it now?

3. Predictions

Facebook assesses your profile and behaviors to understand what to show in your news feed. Facebook aims to understand your likes and dislikes in terms of posts with predictions so that it only shows you content you are likely to engage with.

4. Relevancy Score

Facebook assigns a relevancy score to every post. Relevancy score refers to how much the content of the post is relevant to a specific user.

Needless to say, every user will have a different relevancy score for a particular post. Facebook is likely to display those posts at the top of your feed with higher relevance scores.

Facebook News Feed Algorithm

Facebook has finally pulled back the curtain on how its algorithms decide what to show in users' news feeds. Facebook news feed algorithm uses artificial intelligence to sort and moderate content on a user's feed. A brief explanation of the highly mechanized process is given below.

  1. Facebook newsfeed algorithm collects all the posts available in a user's feed according to the page they follow, the groups they have joined, and their interest.
  2. It allots them scores based on ranking signals such as its recency, type of post, popularity, and relationship to predict how valuable different posts are for a specific user.
  3. Then the Facebook newsfeed algorithm removes and obsoletes those posts that a user is unlikely to engage with and does not fall in the interest category of the user. This includes misinformation or clickbait content.
  4. Now Facebook newsfeed algorithm's "neural network" works on further narrowing down the posts by ranking them based on the ones that the user might take action upon, such as reacting, liking, or commenting.
  5. The final step of the Facebook newsfeed algorithm is to find a sweet spot between different types and sources of the post so as to make an exciting news feed for every user to scroll through and spend as much as possible.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook Algorithm Change In 2021

Facebook introduced some new updates on March 31, 2021, to give its users more control over what they can see and share in their news feed.

Update 1: Commenting Options On Public Posts

Facebook hinted that the friends you add, pages you like, groups you join, and every other thing you interact with on Facebook contribute to shaping how your news feed looks on any given day.

Facebook now provides you control over who can comment on your given public post with three options to choose from. Public, Friends, Profiles & Pages you mention.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Facebook

You can thus control how you invite conversation onto your public posts and limit potentially unwanted interactions by adjusting your commenting audience.

Know more about How To Turn Off Comments On Facebook Post

Update 2: Manage News Feed Preferences

Facebook now gives you more control over what you see in your news feed. Facebook provides a feed filter bar at the top of your news feed that provides you with three alternate feed options to choose from.

1. Home: The standard Facebook algorithmically tuned feed that decides which posts should appear in which order.

2. Favorites: A news feed that displays posts from your hand-picked 30 people and pages.

3. Recent: The algorithm-free chronological news feed that shows posts from your friends and pages in the order they were posted.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Facebook

Update 3: Get More Context On Why Specific Posts Appear In Your News Feed

To help you discover some new and relevant content, Facebook suggests posts from different pages and groups in your news feed that users don't follow, but Facebook thinks they may like it. Facebook now provides more context around the posts that it suggests in the news feed by expanding the "Why am I seeing this post?." option.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook People You May Know Algorithm

Facebook wants you to connect with more people and interact with them, thus getting to know more about your interests and making your feed more interesting. You might have noticed that the suggestion you get under the 'People you may know' section will have some things in common such as university, city, etc.

Facebook mines a wealth of your data to show you these suggestions as data is the oil. The major factors that are counted in the Facebook people you may know algorithm are given below.

  • Mutual friends (the most basic factor)
  • People who have your contact number saved
  • Facebook uses the whole of your contact lists, email ids, or all the data stored on your mobile phone to suggest you friends based on that data
  • Personal profile detail. This personal information can include your city, school, college, work information, workplace, etc.
  • People you searched on Facebook
  • Groups that you are part of
  • People who have searched or looked at your Facebook profile from their accounts, even if you don't have mutual friends
  • Interest-based on likes and comments
  • Based on keywords you type on the Facebook search bar
  • Google search terms
  • Family members
  • Third-party apps

Facebook Friend Suggestion Algorithm

Since Facebook is a social networking site, it features a friend suggestion function to encourage users to make new connections periodically and grow their friend base. Friend suggestions help users connect to others with shared aspects such as interests, friends, and backgrounds.

The friend suggestion is based on the Facebook algorithm, which considers various aspects similar to the Facebook people you may know the algorithm. However, the Facebook friend suggestion algorithm is much more filtered than the previous one.

A lot of factors from the Facebook people you may know algorithms are obsoleted. The major ones considered are.

  • Location
  • Mutual friends
  • College & year of study
  • Family members of your friends
  • Interest
  • Based on your phone contact
  • Friends of your phone contact

The Facebook friend suggestion algorithm does not depend on who looked at your profile and on third-party apps, like the Facebook people you may know algorithm. The list is endless for people’s algorithms, but it's limited to the Facebook friend suggestion algorithm.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Nerds Chalk

Facebook Ad Algorithm

Facebook does not rank ads on the newsfeed purely based on the amount of cash an advertiser puts behind them.

Facebook charges the advertisers only when a user sees their ads. So, it's paramount for advertisers that their target audience sees their ads at the right place.

This 'right place' is near the top of your target audience's newsfeed, where they are more engaged with the content, and therefore, much more likely to take action.

Ads that don't appeal to the Facebook ad algorithm will gain their impressions further down in the newsfeed, where users are normally less engaged and more likely to just skim over the content.

Know more about The 11 Do's & Don'ts Of Facebook Ads

Facebook Algorithm 2021

The Facebook ad algorithm follows three major ranking signals. If your ad appeals to all of these, it is much more likely to appear at the place where your target audience will take action.

1. Estimated Action Rate

While setting up a Facebook ad campaign, the very first step you take is choosing a suitable ad campaign objective. Facebook's strategic guess at the likelihood of your ad campaign achieving its objective is known as the Estimated Action Rate.

Facebook make these educated guesses by tracking:

  • The ad's performance (overtime)
  • The ad set's performance as a whole
  • The quality of your campaign
  • Ad feedback (from the users who 'report' or' hide' the ad)
  • Your account history

2. User Value

The actions that a user takes after clicking on your ad relates to User Value.

Facebook ad algorithm measures User Value to avoid running any misleading or click-bait ads as this will have a negative impact on their reputation and user's experience.

Though Facebook is unable to measure a user's emotion, it track's the user's behavior by looking at the amount of time spent on landing pages, tracking back-clicks and immediate exits.

Facebook can measure every user's behavior after they click on an ad by using metrics like:

  • Time on page
  • Immediate exits
  • Back-clicks
  • Conversion %
  • Video view % (natively on FB)

Facebook Algorithm 2021

3. Bidding Strategy

Predictably, ad budgets do have an impact (just not as big as you might have thought it to be).

When it comes to selecting an appropriate bidding strategy, you should allow the Facebook algorithm to do the hard work for you by choosing the 'Lowest Cost' option (which is selected as the default option).

By choosing this option, you are allowing Facebook to spend your entire ad budget for the lowest cost per action in your desired time frame. In other words, you are authorizing Facebook to bid for you. This enables the Facebook algorithm to bid higher for users who are more likely to interact with your ad.

Know more about How To Decide On A Budget For Facebook Ads - Budgeting Steps

Facebook Algorithm Hacks 2021

When trying to hack the Facebook algorithm, remember that you cannot trick the system. Rather, you should focus on creating content that interests your audience and turns the Facebook algorithm in your favor.

Use the given eight Facebook algorithm hacking tricks to see higher engagement rates for your posts.

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #1: Messenger Is Meaningful

Facebook loves it when you make use of their features.

When you engage with someone through Facebook messenger, you are sending an indication to the Facebook algorithm that you know this person. Facebook gets to know that both of you are real friends who enjoy interacting with each other and see each other's stuff.

This is why you should send Happy Birthday messages through messenger instead of just posting on someone's timeline.

Know more about The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Messenger For Business

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Art Plus Marketing

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #2: Bypass The Algorithm Using Facebook Stories

Did you know that Facebook stories aren't a part of the Facebook newsfeed?

Yes, Facebook stories sail above its algorithm and aren't ruled by it at all. Facebook says that stories are highly effective at driving increased traffic. In fact, 58% of Facebook users claim they have visited a business' website for more information after watching their story.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #3: Give Engagement To Get Engagement

Don't stop after posting on Facebook.... engage!

An important step after posting on Facebook is to spend time engaging with your audience.

The Facebook algorithm prioritizes posts from pages that the user has interacted with in the past. Hence, it's essential to reply to your audience's comments and messages.

Think of it as if your audience has taken out their valuable time to interact with your brand. So, don't lose the opportunity by ignoring them. Instead, reply to them and show them that you appreciate their efforts.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: FightCamp Facebook

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #4: Post When Your Audience Is Awake & Alive

Your audience has the best chance of looking at your post and engaging with it only if it hits the top of their Facebook timeline. Since the recency of post is a major ranking signal, posting when your audience is alive provides a boost to the Facebook algorithm.

Know more about The Best Times To Post On Facebook In 2021

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #5: Use Hashtags Mindfully To Drive Facebook Organic Reach

Only use a few hashtags in your Facebook posts when they seem relevant. Use your industry-specific hashtags and create your own unique brand hashtags to gain new followers.

Use hashtags to make your evergreen content easily findable in a pool of content. Facebook creates a unique URL for each hashtag used. This means users can use hashtags to search for content.

Also, try to use trending hashtags to gain more reach. Use hashtag insights provided by tools such as Statusbrew to find which hashtags are getting you the most clicks, shares, comments, or reach!

Just sort the list by the metric of your choice and see detailed analysis around each hashtag.

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #6: Create Content Of Topmost Quality

The changes that were made to the Facebook algorithm in 2021 place a far greater emphasis on showing content from friends and connections than brands.

Facebook has become increasingly sophisticated in its ability to recognize spam-like content and clickbait. They do not want this type of low-quality content to invade their users' feeds.

As the algorithm continues to improve in 2021, brands should focus on creating content that seems genuine and relates to their audience on a human level.

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #7: Leverage Facebook Groups

As a brand, you can make the Facebook algorithm work for you and get higher visibility on your posts by creating a group.

Businesses can leverage the power of Facebook groups by building a community around the problem that their product or services solve.

Facebook groups give you the ability to directly communicate with your target audience and interact with them on a more personal level.

Know more about The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Groups For Businesses

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Image Source: Canva Design Circle Facebook

Facebook Algorithm Hacks #8: Resort To Video Content

Facebook recently revealed that its algorithm is going to reward for creating video content that fuels repeat views.

Facebook's study says that three-minute videos usually perform best, and those videos that capture the user's attention span for at least one minute are ranked higher in the news feed.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

However, the algorithm update will de-prioritize the pages that simply share videos and don't upload original content.

Know more about Facebook Video Marketing

Bonus: If you want to excel at grabbing engagements through video content, you need to analyze several parameters and act based on what the metrics convey.

Statusbrew's innovative reporting feature provides several video metrics such as organic and paid video views, videos that were clicked to play or were autoplay, and total video viewed time to meet your goals.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Make Data-Driven Decisions For Your Facebook Marketing Using Statusbrew

If you often get saturated managing your social presence on Facebook, you need to centralize and streamline your social efforts using an all-in-one social media dashboard such as Statusbrew.

Statusbrew offers time-saving reporting and in-depth analytics for different dimensions of Facebook marketing.

Facebook Algorithm 2021

Using Statusbrew, you can maximize your social media performance by making insightful and data-driven decisions that analyze only the metrics that matter to you the most.

Add all your profiles and manage comments, messages, mentions, ratings, and ad comments on regular and dynamic posts from Statusbrew's unified inbox.

Statusbrew's multi-management dashboard also allows you to create campaigns, publish dark posts, and boost posts with your Facebook ad account.

Make sure that your post reaches the right people at the right time using powerful scheduling features combined with insights on the best time to post reports, audience & location targeting.

Start your free trial today and see for yourself!

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Rushali Das

Rushali is a content writer at Statusbrew. She is fond of writing content that compels people to slow down and look more closely to discover the unknown stories.