In January, Facebook made a significant change to its content algorithm: the process that determines what posts users see while they’re scrolling through their news feed. 

Simply put, Facebook now prioritizes posts shared between friends and family over posts shared by a Page (a business, organization, or public figure). The goal of this change, according to the platform, is to bring Facebook back to its original purpose: to be a place where users can have meaningful interactions with the people who matter most. 

This is a huge cutback for brands—especially following similar changes made back in 2015 that reduced organic visibility for businesses, organizations, and public figures on Facebook. 

These changes don’t have to be the end of brand engagement on Facebook, however. Here’s how brands can start engaging differently to keep up.

“Facebook now prioritizes posts shared between friends and family over posts shared by a Page (a business, organization, or public figure).”

How Facebook’s Post Ranking Works

Facebook uses a process called “ranking” to decide what posts show up in a user’s news feed and in what order. Essentially, your activity on the platform tells Facebook what matters to you. If you give a post a “like,” comment, or share—whether the post was created by another person or by a company—that interaction indicates to Facebook that you want to keep seeing that type of content in your news feed. When you “like” your cousin’s photo of her golden retriever, posts shared by your cousin or content related to pets will be prioritized on your news feed.

New Ranking Criteria Means Person-to-Person > Person-to-Page

Facebook’s recent changes center around the new criteria added to this ranking system. The actions Facebook users take on the site are now given more or less ‘weight’—and a higher or lower score—depending on several things:

  • Whether the interaction is person-to-person—between an individual and a friend—or between a person and a ‘Page,’ like an individual commenting on a brand’s post.
  • Whether a person you interact with is or is not in your network (for example, a family member or a close friend).  
  • The interaction type: A comment, a “reaction,” or a conversation, and how much time and care are dedicated to it.

Since Facebook is re-focusing on meaningful person-to-person activity, activity between close friends or family members is given a higher score than a person-to-Page interaction. For example: commenting on a photo of your sister’s baby will result in a higher score than liking a menu update from your favorite restaurant. Why? Because your sister is a member of your family network, and commenting requires more time and effort than simply clicking “like.”

How Brands Can Post Differently

There’s no skirting around it: the numbers behind this update are working against business, organization, and public figure Pages. No matter what, your brand’s organic reach is going to go down. Additionally, Facebook anticipates people will actually use the site less—but that the quality of their interactions will, over time, increase. 

This update still gives brands an important opportunity to evaluate the quality of their broadcasts, and to take a good look at how they’re providing value to their audiences on the site.

Where should brands start taking action? Spark up the conversation. Those higher-effort interactions, such as comments and conversations, are scored higher, so it’s more important than ever for brands to meaningfully engage with users. Post questions that prompt a response. Share content about relevant and timely topics that people have opinions on.

The bottom line is: Your brand’s Facebook posts are more likely to be seen by users if their friends and family are commenting on them. Are you giving your audience a reason to score your page higher in Facebook’s new ranking criteria?