What Decides Who Sees My Facebook Posts? Avoid Errors and Understand the Algorithm

Liberal Activists Tried to Troll a GOP Senate Candidate…But They Actually Gave Him a Huge Facebook Boost!

Everybody wants to know more about how to get their website to show up higher on Google and more eye-balls on their Facebook posts. Most of us don’t have the time or attention span to become experts. This week, I spotted a really helpful post that pulls back the curtain on the Facebook algorithm that prioritizes the content you create (and why you see what shows up on your feed). Plus, the story was catalyzed by liberal protestors using a counterproductive strategy!

Learn some good stuff and laugh at liberal failure. Great, right?!

Trey Edwards is an Alabama-based Social Media Strategist and fellow writer at the Resurgent. He was also a guest on the How to Run for Office Podcast a short while ago (Check out his appearance on Episode 11!) Trey’s original post can be read in full at TheResurgent.com and I’ve included excerpts below.

Being from Alabama, Trey is paying close attention to the unfolding Senate Special Election and spotted an article describing a liberal group’s efforts to ‘troll’ the campaign of Roy Moore, Former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The aforementioned group encouraged people to use the Gay Pride “reaction” button to react to Justice Moore’s posts and comment frequently. Their goal was to humiliate him and draw negative attention to him and his campaign for Senate. However, as Trey explains below, their copious amounts of interactions and shares gave Moore an incredible amount of cache with the Facebook algorithm controlling his post visibility and spread.

Rather than humiliating him and pushing him out of the headlines, they ensured that his posts and articles about him received an incredible INCREASE in traffic and viewership.

Check out Trey’s explanation of how this works:

Facebook uses an algorithm to determine the order in which you see all of the potential posts in your news feed. This algorithm assigns a numerical score to every piece of content on Facebook relative to you, and then displays the content in that order. The algorithm contains three primary components: Age, Affinity, and Interactions. Age is the amount of time that has passed since your post was published, although it is also somewhat impacted by the time since the post’s most recent interaction. This is why you can have an old post pop back up in your news feed when someone interacts with it. Affinity is how close the person that published the post is to you. Obviously, friends are closest, followed by friends of friends. But, beyond that, Facebook also mines an incredible amount of data in order to determine how close you are with each of your friends. If you don’t ever interact with the content that a particular friend publishes, you’ll eventually stop seeing any of their posts. Now, neither of these two things can easily and repetitively be manipulated by you to make your content go viral. However, the last factor stands out in that respect. Your post’s Interactions score is simply a tally of the number of likes, shares, and comments on the post. And, yes, this includes rainbow flags.

Let’s simplify this down even further, using completely fictional numbers to illustrate how this algorithm works. Let’s say that someone publishes a piece of content. A photo, video, status, etc. We’ll assign this post a base score of one hundred points for you. Now, for every minute that passes, this post loses a point. However, for every like, angry face, rainbow, share, comment, etc, this post gains a point. These two numbers are constant for everyone. Now, we’ll add a point for every time you’ve interacted with the other posts of the person that published it over the past 60 days. This score is unique to you. Your news feed is simply all of these posts displayed in descending order, updating dynamically. That’s why when you refresh your news feed, some of the same posts appear – their score has changed since you last loaded the page.

Let’s take three examples. Example one is a post that has been live for 15 minutes, has 5 interactions, three comments, two shares, and was published by your best friend, that you have engaged with 100 times in the past 60 days. This post’s Age score is 100-15, so 85. The Affinity score is 100, and the Interactions score is 10. Add these together, and the post’s score, relative to you, is 195.

Example two is a post that has been live for two days, but has two thousand interactions, five hundred comments, and 10,000 shares. However, it is from someone that you are not connected to. The post’s Age score would be 100 minus 1,440 minutes, so negative 1,340. The Affinity score is zero, and the interactions score is 12,500. Add these together, and the post’s score, relative to you, is 11,160.

Example three is a post that has been live for an hour. It has ten likes, 5 comments, and zero shares. It is by someone that you’ve only interacted with 5 times in the past 60 days. Subtract 60 from 100 for the Age score, add ten and five for the Interactions score, and add only five for the Affinity score to get a post score, relative to you, of only 60.

In this scenario, when you loaded your news feed for the first time, you would see post Two first, followed by post One, then post Three.

Now, obviously, these are not the actual numbers that are used. Different actions are weighted differently, and a large number of factors come into play that nobody besides the engineers know about. But this exercise should help you understand the basic concepts behind Facebook’s algorithm. If you’d like to learn more, or see a visual description of how all this works, check out this 10-minute video produced by Facebook that explains all of this in more depth.

Now, let’s apply what we just learned to this “trolling” incident involving Roy Moore. The actions of this group were designed to hurt Moore’s campaign and bring awareness to some of his more controversial views. Well, everybody that will be voting in the election already know his views on the issue of gay marriage, so that second strategy is already irrelevant. But the first strategy not only failed completely, these attempted troublemakers actually benefited Moore’s campaign greatly. Their plan backfired. If you apply the principles we just learned, what happened when this occurred? Using the math we used earlier, the algorithm scores of Roy Moore’s posts were increased by several hundred points each. And the primary score being affected is the Interactions score, so this impact is felt across the political spectrum, since these points are not relative to individual users. Now, I don’t have admin access to Roy Moore’s Facebook Page, but I can tell you exactly what happened. The reach of Roy Moore’s posts increased – exponentially! Not just to liberals, but to conservatives and independents, and without costing the campaign a dime. In order to achieve this without the “trolling,” Roy Moore would have had to purchase thousands of dollars worth of ads on Facebook. This is why I said earlier that every interaction this group made on the page was basically the same as donating a dollar.

Read the rest of Trey’s analysis over at The Resurgent!

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