Two Facebook Algorithm Changes to Note for Your Practice Page

On our Advice Media blog, we’ve touted the value of your practice’s Facebook page in many posts. We think your practice Facebook page is a great way to show your patients a different side of your practice by creating engagement and giving a little more personal insight into your practice. Plus, this kind of engagement engenders patient loyalty, which is priceless.

To get the most out of your Facebook page, you need to stay abreast of any changes the social media giant makes to its algorithms. Facebook uses those algorithms to determine who sees your posts/updates and when. It’s constantly noting which posts get the most attention and what not, and then using that information to tweak the algorithms and, correspondingly, decide what everyone sees on their news feeds.

At the end of January, Facebook announced two changes to two different areas of its overall algorithm. While not earth shattering for your practice page, these changes could have an impact on how visible your posts are, so it’s worth paying attention to them.

One update tries to reward better “authenticity”; the other tracks real-time interaction more closely as a way to reward posts.

Authenticity

If you wonder just how Facebook weighs certain updates so that it can decide who will see them, you can thank the algorithms. The algorithms are looking at two types of signals: personal signals and universal signals.

  • Personal signals relate to users seeing posts. Facebook knows the people you interact with more, and it shows you more of their posts.
  • Universal signals are about posting. If your posts have higher rates of engagement, they are shown to more users.

This first algorithm change relates to universal signals, the posts made on your page. Facebook is looking for “authenticity.” If you’re more authentic, your posts have more mojo to Facebook, so it shows them around more often than fake or spammy posts.

To Facebook, authenticity has various criteria. Last year, for instance, the company said that live video broadcasts would receive higher reach than some other types of content. This was their way of pushing this new feature, obviously.

But, of course, this method for gaining higher visibility was instantly gamed by less than angelic types. They posted graphics-only “live videos” like countdown clocks to get their posts to receive better exposure. But these weren’t live, and they were often clickbait to false stories or otherwise misleading links.

To combat this, Facebook then reduced the visibility of those graphics-only non-live “live” video posts.

That is one sign of inauthenticity. Another is begging for likes, comments, and shares. Facebook sees that kind of pandering as dishonest and inauthentic.

It’s also trying to squash the spread of “fake news,” which many people feel pushed the recent Presidential election to Trump, by looking for inauthenticity. For instance, if updates are frequently reported or if users hide those updates, Facebook assumes they are not authentic and downgrades their value.

What should you change on your practice page to acknowledge these algorithm changes? Don’t ask for likes and comments — let them happen on their own. And try and post content that your patients engage with, things like surveys, photo caption contests, and the like.

Real-time has real status

This second update isn’t as relevant for a practice page. First, Facebook is raising the status of posts that are related to topics that are popular at that moment. Second, it also is looking for engagement with those posts at the same moment.

Here’s what those two points mean. For the first part, Facebook is giving more value to updates that relate to stuff currently going on. This would be making a post about the Super Bowl during the Super Bowl, for instance.

For the second part, if that post then garners a lot of engagement, such as a debate in the comments about who’s the best QB or whatever, that post will have more status and be pushed out to a wider audience.

This second algorithm change is a little harder to make work for a practice page. But there are possibilities. Say you’re a dermatologist and during the beach volleyball finals of the Olympics you make a post about how the players protect their skin, despite being out in the sun all the time. That would be highly relevant and timely to Facebook, and your patients could weigh in and interact with it. Facebook would like that and give your post more love.

As always, the value of your practice Facebook page is a direct relation of how much you or your staff populates it with content that engages with your patients and potential patients. Keeping these algorithm changes in mind will help those posts be seen by a wider audience. But what’s still most important is simply posting stuff on your page and being consistent over time.

If you have any questions about your practice’s Facebook page, contact your Advice Media representative and ask away.

Posted in: Facebook Marketing, News

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