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This is interesting – today, Meta has published a new overview of how creators can maximize their reach on Facebook, and connect with more potential fans via News Feed distribution.

And while the advice is focused on creators, the tips are universal, in relation to how the News Feed algorithm works, and if you are looking to get more reach to your target audience on Facebook, these notes will definitely help.  

But then again, how exactly you do that may not always be a net positive for society.

I’ll explain.

First off, as Meta has communicated in the past, the Facebook News Feed algorithm primarily relies on these key elements when deciding who sees what content”

  • What content has been posted? What posts are available from friends, other creators and Pages that we can show?
  • Who might like this content? We consider a multitude of signals such as who posted the content, when it was posted, what was the topic and past user behavior, among others.
  • How likely are people to engage with the post? We try to predict how likely a given person is to engage with your post and find it meaningful. We make a variety of these predictions for each piece of content.
  • How interested will the audience be in this post? Based on all of the data we have gathered on the post, which pieces of content should get priority?

So engagement is the key focus, showing people more content that they’ll click-through on, comment on, share, Like, etc.

That remains a potentially problematic element, depending on how the algorithm weighs each. If the algorithm favors comments, for example, that then incentivizes people and Pages to post things that will spark debate and discussion – which can be positive, in some respect, but can also be very divisive, and lead to further angst and opposition.

In any event, these are the considerations that the algorithm weighs, which subsequently means they’re what you should also consider if you want to get maximum reach and response with your Facebook posts.

But this part is especially interesting in considering Facebook engagement in 2022 specifically.

In its explanation, Meta says that it now views Facebook engagement in two ways:

  • Connected Distribution – Your posts are seen by those who follow you on Facebook. This is your core audience on the platform.
  • Unconnected Distribution – Your posts are seen by those who don’t follow you, but may be interested in your content. This type of distribution can come through other users sharing and resharing your posts or from our recommendations in our “Suggested for You” sections.

Now, both of these types of engagement have existed in Facebook for years, but it’s the latter element that’s now getting more specific focus, as Meta looks to pump more AI-fueled content recommendations into your feed.

Indeed, back in July, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg flagged the company’s plan to double the amount of AI-recommended content in user feeds by the end of the year.

As per Zuckerberg:

“Right now, about 15% of content in a person’s Facebook feed and a little more than that of their Instagram feed is recommended by our AI from people, groups, or accounts that you don’t follow. We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year.”

In other words, ‘Unconnected Distribution’ is set to become a much bigger factor in determining your Facebook post reach – which means that businesses need to consider how Unconnected Distribution also works in the broader process.

Which Meta has provided some new guidance on – in order to maximize Unconnected Distribution, Meta says that you should:

Facebook 'Unconnected Reach'

How, exactly, each of these elements factors into Facebook’s ‘Unconnected Distribution’ algorithms is not clear, but the pointers indicate that Facebook will be looking to promote as much original content as it can (however it assesses such), while optimizing for engagement remains a key consideration.

Which is easier said than done. Of course, you want to post things that generate more likes and shares, and boost your reach. But unfortunately, the easiest way to do this, as you likely know from your own experience, is to incite rage and anger, while happiness and joy can also provide that emotional kick that’ll incite people to interact, however they may choose.

Various studies have shown that anger is the emotion that spreads most easily over social media, with joy coming in second. Again, in order to incite a reaction, you need to strike an emotional chord with your content, and these are the two instinctive responses most likely to get people typing, and in particular, sharing online.

Which, again, makes sense. If you read something that really annoys you, you feel a compulsion to respond to it, which will then see you inadvertently amplifying that content, while funny memes and trends also spread quickly across the web.

Post an update about how good your product is, and no one will care, but make a few snarky responses via tweet and you can quickly become the talk of the internet for that day, albeit with a high level of reputational risk.

This is the way the web works, based on algorithmic amplification that’s designed to keep people in each app for as long as possible, at all times. Poking your emotions is what, essentially, algorithms are all about, regardless of any other explanations about how they merely reflect human nature and interest, and how algorithms are ‘content agnostic’ and are not designed to amplify negative behaviors.

That argument is irrelevant, because intent and effect are two vastly different things, and there’s no way that anyone could argue that algorithms don’t end up boosting more divisive, argumentative content, regardless of their design.

Publishers know it, brands know it, and this overview once again underlines the fact that if you want to maximize your Facebook reach – through either Connected or Unconnected Distribution – you need to get people talking.

How you do that is by aligning content with emotional triggers, which can be positive, of course, in sharing more joyful, happy posts. But anger works too – which is less than ideal for creators, publishers, society in general, etc.

But these are the factors that you need to consider when you’re working on maximizing your Facebook performance.

You can read Meta’s full overview for creator distribution here.