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A few weeks ago, Facebook made a minor change to its algorithm. They changed the way text and link statuses are ranked in the News Feed. To put it simply, link shares from companies will be promoted while text links will be demoted.
Why is the change important?
Although the new Facebook algorithm probably won’t affect the average user, it’s big for businesses. Most businesses use the sharing feature to promote their original content (blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, etc.) in order to educate their Facebook fans and inspire them to move further along the sales funnel.
Why did Facebook make the change?
In its announcement about the algorithm change, Facebook explained that the goal of its updates are to “show people the most interesting stories at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible” and that it regularly runs tests to improve the user experience.
Through these studies, Facebook has found that users generally prefer to interact with text statuses from friends than text statuses from companies. Because of that, your business’ text statuses will not rank as high in the News Feed and can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates.
The website is treating these two types of updates as separate categories.
“We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends and we are working to improve our ranking algorithms so that we do a better job of differentiating between the two types,” the announcement explained. “This will help us show people more content they want to see.”
Why and how should I use link shares?
As mentioned, link shares from companies will be promoted while text links will be demoted. To make sure that your posts reach as many people as possible, your link shares should have metadata (a.k.a. titles, thumbnail photos and a short preview of the text you’re linking to).
Here are some examples from SkyRocket’s Facebook page:
Here, we have linked to our original content (the blog on the right) and a Pinterest pin (the photo on the left). These link shares, supported by metadata, are much more eye-catching than a plain text link with no visual elements, aren’t they? According to studies, your Facebook fans think so, too. It makes sense, because visuals like photos and videos have been proven to be the most effective content for companies to post.
There are a few ways to post a link share supported with metadata:
1. Simply click the “Share” button under the post you would like to share. Write a quick description and click “Share Link.” (Shown below)
2. Paste the link you would like to share into your status update field and wait for the metadata to pop up. You should see a loading symbol in the corner of the post. After Facebook has had a few moments, it will generate the title, thumbnail photo and text preview. You can add your own description or, when applicable, choose the thumbnail that suits your content best. Then click “Post.” (Shown below)
What does this mean for my business?
If the light bulb didn’t go off already – this algorithm update is yet another hint that visual content reigns supreme in 2014. This means it’s extremely important to include eye-catching images in your blog posts and bright, bold cover photos for your calls to action – they will show up in your link metadata if you share them correctly, and as Facebook has pointed out, they make users more inclined to notice your posts.
This algorithm change also stresses the importance of interesting titles, as the title text is more noticeable in a link share. An interesting title with an interesting photo is bound to inspire more interaction from your Facebook fans.
So, what are you going to share?