How the Facebook Algorithm Changed in 2020 & What Small Businesses Should Take Away From It

Yes, it’s true: the Facebook algorithm has changed again.

It’s already a challenge for digital marketers to keep up with fast-paced social media platforms, which means small businesses without the resources can easily fall behind. Luckily, we’re here to help. In general, Facebook’s 2020 algorithm goal was to make its platform more transparent for all users and increase user enjoyment based on what they interact with. However, let’s take a quick step back to 2018 to see why you might be hearing so much about organic reach, otherwise known as the number of unique accounts who see your content without paid promotion.

Since 2018, Facebook started to de-prioritize business posts on the feed in favor of updates from friends and family that “sparked conversation” and “meaningful interactions,” according to their Facebook Business update. This is when many pages started to see a decrease in organic reach. In 2019, that resulted in posts that created more divisiveness—in other words, they earned more engagement due to dueling user views in the comments—to be prioritized on the feed. Facebook realized that they had achieved more conversations but lacked the meaningful part. So, they adjusted once again.

Throughout 2020, Facebook tried to be more transparent and focus on making their algorithm easier to understand through ranking signals: who a user typically interacts with, the type of media in the post (i.e. video, photo, link, etc.) and the popularity of the post. In general, they encouraged users to start positive conversations with their friends/audience and share engaging media. However, posts that included signals like links to sites with stolen content, misleading health information, manipulated videos, or misinformation would be automatically down-ranked.

So what are the three big takeaways we find most important for small businesses?

Paid Advertisement

As organic reach for Pages continues to decline throughout these algorithm updates, utilizing Facebook’s paid advertisements will help get your brand in front of potential customers. Facebook has made some changes this year to help business owners especially get the most out of their platform. Some notable ones include:

  • In April, Facebook added an ad manager status tool so business owners who have under-performing advertisements can see if it is because the platform itself is experiencing any issues.
  • Facebook gave users the option to control what information is shown to advertisers in August. This both helps and hurts businesses; the number of people viewing your ad will decrease, but the chance of engagement can increase.
  • Facebook set out to help small businesses in September with their launch of Facebook Business Suite. This digital tool is an interface designed for business owners to manage Facebook and Instagram in one spot. This means notifications, alerts, and insights for Instagram and Facebook will all be in one place.

Facebook Groups

As Facebook continues to focus on those “meaningful interactions,” they found that Groups were a great way to do that. Small businesses can take advantage of this by creating their own group to:

  • Build a private community of previous and potential clients and give them early access to sales or products.
  • Showcase your expertise and build a community of like-minded professionals through Q&As, discussions prompts, and articles.
  • Discuss a relevant part of your business with like-minded individuals: for example, a candle company could create a group for local crafters.

Going into 2021, having a strong base of loyal customers will be key in social media marketing. Most experts predict that larger companies will continue the COVID-19 mindset of working on strengthening current relationships with customers instead of building new ones. By doing the same, small businesses can ensure a steady stream of customers even as we experience the lingering aftermath of the pandemic.

Facebook Shops

While Facebook might not have expected the huge boost in e-commerce needs at the beginning of 2020, they took it in stride with many updates to benefit businesses selling products. Facebook has rolled out other online shopping changes, including:

  • The creation of Facebook Shops in May, which gives Facebook users the opportunity to check out in the app. Facebook Shops also allows customers to reach out to the business page and ask questions about different products.
  • In July, Facebook Shops was expanded to include Instagram with the creation of Instagram Shops. This tool works just like Facebook Shops, giving businesses the opportunity to sell products directly through Instagram.
  • Facebook also rolled out a new way to target ads in July as well. Business pages can now target advertisements to people who have viewed your products, added products to their baskets, or people who have made a purchase. This way you can target the group of people most likely to return to your page and help increase engagement.
  • In October, Facebook helped businesses get ready for holiday sales by giving them the opportunity to apply discount features. Now business page owners can put individual products on sale, set up automatic discounts for qualifying orders, activate promo codes, and even apply discounts to specific collections or your entire store.

Bottom line? If your followers are not interacting with your posts, your content will show up lower and lower on their news feed. There are ways to increase interaction with your posts, but first you need to understand the 2020 algorithm and the changes ahead. Be prepared for all 2021 has to offer when you work with That’s My Idea! Marketing, your marketing team for hire.