Beating the Algorithms on Facebook

With one billion people using Facebook daily, it’s more important than ever to have an active Facebook channel for your business which is why we set ourselves a challenge to increase our engagement rate by 100% (that’s the number of people interacting with your posts). Although we spend every day on our social media channels as a team, we doubled our hours in January with staggering results.


Since 2012, Facebook’s organic reach has declined dramatically (that’s the number of people seeing your posts). This is for two reasons - there is too much content in the news feed for everyone to see your posts and Facebook is prioritising the posts that are most relevant/interesting for each user. Working in communications, we were aware of Facebook algorithms changing on a daily basis, so with that in mind, we set off on our challenging journey…  

Before we started

Before planning your Facebook content, it’s important to understand your audience. There’s no point creating hundreds of detailed posts if they’re not going to be relatable. Work out your business objectives before beginning and compare them to your audience. You can find out your business audience by clicking on ‘insights’ at the top of your business page and going to ‘people.’ For Sunny Bird PR, we found our audience consisted of 70% women between the ages of 18-65, with nearly a third between the ages of 35-44. Going forward, we knew it was important to tailor our content to suit women in this age bracket.

It’s also important to find out the best times to post on your Facebook page by clicking ‘when your fans are online.’ For Sunny Bird PR, the majority of our fans were online between 5-8pm so we knew it would be best to post/schedule most of our posts then in order to gain the most traction.


Facebook engagement is the number of people interacting with your posts, whether that’s liking, sharing or commenting. For Sunny Bird PR, it was important for us to increase our engagement by 100% in order to meet our business objectives and grow a following on social media. We researched some of the best ways to increase our engagement in 2019 and found that video was the most successful format. Videos on Facebook have dominated the channel in the past year so we knew that we had to implement the format in our strategy. Statistically, video posts get 59% more engagement than normal posts. In terms of the type of video, Facebook prioritises live videos in the news feed. In fact, live videos are likely to get three times as much engagement than regular videos according to our research so they should be created daily.


Over the course of the month, there were many posts which we thought would increase engagement based on our research but it’s important to note that different things work for different channels. For example, we thought that a post asking people for the best UK festivals would increase engagement, but the results were poor (with only 11 engagements!) and we realised this was because our fans couldn’t take anything away from the post. There was no knowledge to gain and no genuine reason for our fans to interact (and it wasn’t a video!). 


Our most engaged post was a live video which discussed some recent networking events we had been to. We asked our audience to interact with the video and shared our top tips on networking. The post reached 1,400 people, provoking 50 reactions, comments and shares.

It’s important to post inspiring content that will encourage people to interact. Ask your fans leading questions and encourage them to comment on the posts without making it too obvious that you are asking for engagement. The result? If you have a high engagement on your post, more people will see it because Facebook prioritises what it thinks people want to see on the news feed.

It’s worth nothing that Facebook engagement also goes hand in hand with the number of posts on your channel. If you’re posting ten times a day, the content will get lost in the news feed, so we recommend posting two times per day maximum. Just to reiterate, every Facebook page channel works differently so try experimenting on post numbers to work out the best structure for your channel.


By the end of January, we had increased our engagement rate on Facebook by 117% with the final week’s engagement tripling (hint*Facebook Lives!).


Facebook reach is the number of people that will see your posts on their news feed, whether that’s paid for (advertising) or organically (without advertising). It differs from engagement because people might see your posts without actually interacting with them. For this challenge, we wanted to increase our Facebook reach organically without spending any money on advertising.

Although it presents more of a challenge in 2019, an increase in Facebook reach is important because with over one billion Facebook users, you want your company to be seen as much as possible. Organic reach is absolutely free and every user that sees your post is just as important as the other. Increasing organic reach is an uphill battle, but it’s certainly a climb worth taking part in.


The good news? Facebook engagement can affect reach tremendously. If you’re posting content that’s encouraging interactions, Facebook will automatically move it up the news feed, thus increasing the number of people who will see your posts.

In order to increase our reach, we focused on increasing our engagement by planning posts that would prompt reactions.

Immediately, we thought putting a post out looking for bloggers would increase our reach by prompting our audience to share the post, but the results were surprisingly low with a reach of only 459 people (head over to the Twitter blog to see how differently these posts can do on other channels!). If you do have more than one social media platform, try experimenting with the same posts to see how differently the posts might work on each platform.

By the end of January, we had increased our reach on Facebook with the final week’s reach doubling. (Hint* Increase engagement not reach, reach will happen if you increase engagement!)

Page Likes

Interestingly (and annoyingly!) people can see your content without having to like your page, but page likes are so important for a brand. Essentially, the more page likes you have, the more credible your business seems.

To increase our page likes, we invited all of our friends and family to like our page, as well as targeting local businesses to like our page. When it comes to your business page, make your employees admins of the page (in page roles) and get them to invite their friends and family too.

From our research we also found that good content and engagement will also increase page likes organically. See it as a reward; if your Facebook post is doing really well you might find that your page likes start to stream in. It’s a win win for everyone.

By the end of January, we managed to increase our page likes by 197%. In just one week, we gained 141 page likes which double our page likes for the whole of December! This was a combination of posting tailored content and inviting people to like our page.


Just remember, what worked on our Facebook page channel might work differently on yours so it’s important to do your research before you set off, and that’s a combination of industry research and analysing your own page. Don’t forget to experiment! We wouldn’t have achieved a 117% engagement increase without overcoming some hurdles at the beginning. And use Facebook live!