Understanding Facebook – advice for admins

You’ve proudly posted an interesting update on your Facebook Page but when you check back later you’re dismayed to see ’14 people reached’  added below it.  Your page has hundreds of followers – so why have only 14 seen your post?


Image: Pixabay.com

Not everything you post on Facebook will be seen by all of your followers.  The secret is in understanding how the Facebook News Feed is generated.  The Facebook algorithm filters the huge number of potential updates that each user might see, choosing updates to show in the News Feed based on various factors.  A challenge for Facebook admins is: “How do I get my content seen on Facebook?”

Why doesn’t Facebook show every update?

Each time a user visits their News Feed, there are, on average, 1,500 potential updates from friends, people, and Pages that they follow waiting to be seen.  Most of us don’t have the time to scroll through that many posts to find the information that we actually want to see, so Facebook’s algorithm prioritises updates to show users what they’re most likely to be interested in.

Facebook is continually tweaking this algorithm in response to feedback from users, so the actual formula currently being used is a bit of a mystery (updates are available on their News Feed FYI series).  One update that has had a negative impact on pages is that Facebook is now less likely to display followers’ activity on your page in the News Feed of their friends who aren’t followers (News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages).  

So, to help you increase the visibility of your posts so that you can reach more of your audience, consider the following when posting updates:

1. Reference a trending topic

Posts about something that is currently a trending topic on Facebook are more likely to appear higher up in News Feed.  Trending topics appear in the right sidebar of your Facebook News Feed.  However avoid piggy-backing on trends that aren’t relevant or appropriate – your followers won’t be impressed!



2. Tag other pages within a post

When a Page tags another Page, the post may also appear in the News Feed of some of the people who like or follow the tagged Page.  To tag a page type @ followed by the name, for example, @SocialMediaQUB.  Facebook will display a list of pages with similar names as you type, allowing you to choose the correct one.  Note that you can only tag pages, not personal profiles.


3. Encourage users to comment on, share or like posts

If you can get followers liking, commenting on, and sharing more content, this is seen as evidence of a greater affiliation and they will see more of your future content.  If followers don’t interact with your content, it’s unlikely to appear in their News Feed.  While a large number of ‘Likes’ can be an indication of affinity, the recent changes to News Feed mean that their influence in terms of referral reach has been diminished.  Therefore, it’s more beneficial to focus on generating ‘Comments’ that will allow you to form one-to-one relationships and ‘Shares’ that will help your content reach new audiences.

4. Keep content original and fresh

Original content and link posts that have not appeared on Facebook before will get preference, so try to keep updates fresh rather than repeating posts.  Also, make sure that your content is timely and schedule posts for the times that your audience are most likely to be online – evenings and weekends are good times to reach students.  Your Insights can help you identify the best times to post and the type of content that your audience are most likely to engage with.

5. Complete your Page profile information

Facebook is more likely to include your posts if you have a completed profile.  Recent changes to the options for your Page’s category allow you to be more specific about your category and subcategory and you can include details such as Awards or Mission.  Check out the Page Info section on your About tab and add as much detail as you can – don’t forget to include a link to your website!


6. Avoid Clickbait, Likebait or ‘spammy’ links

Clickbaiting refers to posts that use sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage sharing of the material over online social networks.  By measuring how frequently people who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, Facebook are able to detect clickbait or ‘spammy’ links.

Ways in which Facebook will determine if an update is clickbait include:

  • If a user clicks through to a link but comes straight back to Facebook
  • If a lot of people click the link, but relatively few people like or comment on the story when they return to Facebook

Likebaiting refers to posts explicitly asking users to take an action on the post i.e. commenting, sharing, or liking. These posts tend to get greater engagement but Facebook users tend not to associate these posts with quality.  Likebaiting signals include words such as “like, comment, or share” in the post.


Image via Postplanner.com 

7. Include an image, video clip or link

Text-only status updates from Pages are less likely to be shown as images, videos and links are proven methods of increasing engagement.  Use eye-catching photos or video clips to show-off the campus or appeal to your audience’s emotions.  When you add a link to your post, Facebook will automatically include one or more images from the website (or you can upload another image) within a large clickable area, making it easy for people to visit the website.


Developing good Facebook content is all about adding value and meeting the needs of your followers in order to encourage engagement.  What works best for your page will depend primarily on your target audience and what they want from your Page.  Check your Facebook Insights regularly to help you identify the type of content that resonates with your audience and makes them take action.  By ensuring your Page features in their activity on Facebook, you can increase the visibility of your posts, making it easier to build a dynamic Facebook community.

What type of content are your followers most likely to interact with?  Share your success stories in the comments!

Further information:

Making Posts More Effective


News Feed FYI: A Window Into News Feed


How News Feed Works


Decoding the Facebook News Feed


Edgerank: A Guide to the Facebook News Feed Algorithm


You won’t believe that Facebook is getting rid of click-bait News Feed spam



3 thoughts on “Understanding Facebook – advice for admins

  1. Facebook have recently announced another update to their algorithm – “News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that you would want to see a story at the top of your feed and the probability that you will like, comment on, click or share a story”. They now advise pages to “avoid encouraging people to take an action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time”. http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/02/news-feed-fyi-using-qualitative-feedback-to-show-relevant-stories/

  2. Pingback: Facebook glossary part 3 – Facebook Insights terms | Social Media QUB

  3. Pingback: Facebook glossary part 3 - Facebook Insights terms | Social Media at Queen's

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