The Facebook Algorithm Signal No One Talks About… Including Facebook

I have a theory about Reach. My theory is not based on any scientific experiments and to be honest, it’s only based on my observations of what seemed to be some odd behavior on my latest post which caused me to go back and analyze my Insights.

One hour ago I posted this silly update on my Page.

What? Facebook is going to start removing inactive accounts and may be shutting down completely in November? tweet

I included a link to an article on All Facebook about one of those idiotic memes that has started making the rounds again, telling people that Facebook would delete their account for inactivity if they didn’t share the post with at least 15 of their friends. I only included a bit.ly text link with no image and no link preview. So far, that post has gotten a reach that exceeds the reach of any of my posts in the past month after only 1 hour.

Normally a post will do well if it gets lots of likes and comments but most importantly, shares, and the more it gets the higher the reach. But…This post has only gotten 5 likes, 3  comments and 0 shares so far.

Update: The post is 21 hours old and the reach is now 3 times higher than any of my posts in the past 2 months and it has gotten 5 times as many clicks. The breakdown on the clicks is 60% fans and 40% non fans.

I’m about to tell you my theory but first, you’re probably wondering why the heck are so many people clicking on a text only link with no image and no preview? I think it’s because they either thought my post was funny and wanted to see what I was on about, or more likely, it scared the crap out of them and since I didn’t provide any details in my post they had no choice but to click the link.

So, why in the world is the reach so high so soon with such low engagement? Here’s my theory. Since my post has not gotten enough likes, comments or shares to warrant the high reach there can only be one conclusion. It’s the number of clicks the link is getting. So far, almost one third of the people reached have clicked on the post. I have noticed a correlation between clicks and reach before but it wasn’t quite this noticeable because typically those posts also got a high number of likes, comments and shares.

Conclusion? Find ways to compel people to click the links in your posts.

If you check your Insights you’ll find that typically, a very small number of people actually click the links, and far fewer if you don’t include the preview and just leave a text link. The conundrum there is that text only posts with links and no preview get a higher reach than posts with a preview but people are less inclined to click a text ink than they are if they see a cool photo and a lead-in blurb in a preview.

The best way to achieve a high organic reach is to get lots of likes, comments and shares and apparently a lot of clicks. Find ways to get more clicks.

If you include a photo in the post see if you can find a way to get people to click it. This would be easy on a photographer’s page because everyone will want to click to see the full size, high res version.

If you leave the link preview and the photo that Facebook pulls from the page you’re linking to doesn’t grab your attention it’s not going to grab anyone else’s either, so replace it.

If you leave the text link in the post and remove the preview, be sure to include a compelling call to action to encourage people to click the link. One way I like to do this is to start my post with my own commentary about something I’m linking to and then copying and pasting a small bit of the story with something like “Read the rest here” or even “continued” in front of the text link.

I’m not a big fan of hashtags on Facebook, especially when more than a couple are added, but it since a click on a hashtag counts, it might be worth throwing one in once in a while.

Write longer posts so the “See more” link appears and viewers need to click it to read the rest of the post.

When you read anything official from Facebook about the signals the News Feed algorithm pays attention to they always mention likes, comments and shares, but they never talk about clicks.