While it’s fair to say most marketers are on-board with the importance of content marketing, there’s still an aspect of marketing that doesn’t get as much love: context marketing.
Whether you know what context marketing means or not, I’m willing to bet you want to deliver the right campaigns to the right customers at the right time. That’s what context marketing is all about.
Here, we’re going to introduce the concept of context marketing and dive into strategies you can use to implement it into your overall marketing strategy.
What is context marketing?
Context marketing is the process of delivering marketing content — such as blog posts, offers, emails, and advertisements — to customers at a specific point in their buyer’s journey. Timing and specificity is critical for context marketing to work.
My favorite context marketing definition is delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
Let me explain what I mean by context a little more, though. When you have context around something, you have a larger, more telling picture — you know, those little details that lend more clarity to things that would otherwise be pretty general, unspecific, and, well, uninteresting.
The best marketers leverage context about their audience, leads, and customers in their content marketing. They create audience profiles and buyer personas and use that information to create more effective marketing and advertising campaigns.
Now that we have a basic understanding of context marketing, you might be wondering what the difference is between content marketing and context marketing. Let’s take a look below.
Content vs Context Marketing
‘Content’ is the material you deliver to your customers: blog posts, articles, offers, newsletters, emails, campaigns, and advertisements. ‘Context’ refers to the timing and circumstances surrounding your delivery of this content.
A marketer using context would know more about a lead than her first name. They might also know what industry she works in, what kind of content she likes best, through which channel she prefers to consume content, whether she’s currently using another solution to meet her needs, and whether her company has budget at this time of year.
As a marketer, if you were asked to “market” to someone, and all you were given was a first name and the type of company your lead works at, wouldn’t your first question be … what else do we know about her? Probably, if you want to do your job way better.
That’s the idea behind context marketing: Using what you know about your contacts to provide supremely relevant, targeted, and personalized marketing.
Why is context marketing important?
Context marketing is important for many reasons, but there are two top ones that make its importance even more salient. Let’s go over them below.
Context marketing converts better.
When you’re creating marketing that’s targeted at people’s point of need, it stands to reason that marketing will perform much better for you, because you aren’t delivering marketing content that’s misaligned with their interests or stage in the buyer’s journey.
Think about it: If you know that a B2B lead is getting a new budget in January and it’s December, you’re able to send her insanely targeted content that addresses her needs — like, say, an offer for a custom demo of your product with a rep that specializes in the finance industry. That’s content that she’s pretty likely to convert on, especially if she’s downloaded a buying guide and visited your product pages.
Hot tip: Keeping track of your prospect’s activity using marketing automation software will make context marketing easier. You’ll know which products your prospect is most interested in and how many times they’ve visited your website.
Context marketing increases retention.
When you have context around your relationship with a contact, you’re able to provide more personalized and relevant marketing content that’s targeted to their needs.
This is great for two reasons: Personalized and relevant marketing is the foundation for creating content people love and engage with. What’s more, personalized and relevant marketing is typically not the kind of marketing that annoys people into clicking “unsubscribe”. If they feel like you’re out to solve their problems specifically, customers are much more likely to stay with you.
Why not use the context around your relationships with your contacts to create marketing that they love and convert on? Let’s take a look at how you can get started.
How to Start Context Marketing
Alright, how does this “context marketing” theory manifest itself? What would it look like for you, as a marketer? With the help of marketing automation software, here are some examples of where you’d actually use the principle of “context” in your marketing.
1. Create specific offers for specific posts and pages.
One easy way you can start context marketing? Create offers that extend the value of your website. Bonus points if these offers answer a specific pain point or problem that a customer is trying to solve for when visiting that page.
Most blog posts in HubSpot’s library feature an offer that’s directly related to the topic of the article. For instance, in our blog post about creating a marketing plan, you can download a marketing plan template — which is something that someone wanting to create a marketing plan might need.
Come up with content offers that will benefit your readers and website visitors depending on the page they’re visiting. For instance, if you sell hiking shoes and you’re writing a blog post about going on a solo hiking trip, you might feature an offer for downloading a solo hiking checklist.
2. Add smart calls-to-action (CTAs) to your website.
You can take personalized offers to the next level by featuring smart calls-to-action. Let’s say you have a variety of offers you want to use to convert traffic into leads, leads into qualified leads, and qualified leads into customers.
To increase your lead conversion rates, you probably don’t want leads visiting a case study webpage (typically an action you’d perform further along in your buyer’s journey), and finding a CTA leading them to a blog post (which is meant for people earlier in the buyer’s journey).
However, not everyone who visits a case study page on your website is necessarily ready to talk to a salesperson. You don’t want to turn them away, either, by offering a CTA that’s too pushy.
Fortunately, with smart CTAs, you can actually surface a CTA that automatically aligns with the visitor’s stage in the sales cycle … or any other host of criteria you want to set. Think industry, business type, location, and past activity/behaviors.
For instance, if you have already downloaded an offer from HubSpot, you might see this CTA on certain social-media-related posts:
But if you haven’t downloaded an offer before, you’ll see the default CTA:
This type of smart content can help you capture your audience’s information at all stages of their buyer’s journey.
Hot tip: HubSpot’s marketing automation software lets you easily create a smart calls-to-action with little technical knowledge.
3. Create smart forms that shorten the conversion cycle.
Smart forms know if someone has already filled out the form fields you’re asking for. If you use smart forms, for instance, your site visitors won’t see “First Name” and “Last Name” every time they fill out a form — instead, they’ll answer those questions once, and then never again.
This will help you glean new information about your leads each time they fill out a form, instead of just more of the same stuff. It also helps you create a more seamless, personalized user experience that leverages prior interactions with your website as context.
Here’s one example from HubSpot Academy. This is what I see when I’m logged into the HubSpot CRM:
The form knows I’m a current HubSpot customer and doesn’t require me to create a new account. I only have to click one button: “Start the Course.”
But this is what I see when I’m not logged in:
Ultimately, smart forms will help you gather even more context about your visitors, leads, and customers, and help increase conversion rates over time.
Hot tip: You can easily create smart forms inside HubSpot’s marketing automation software.
4. Leverage dynamic email content and workflows.
Your forms and offers aren’t the only things that need to be smart. Your email database — especially if you want to maintain your space in people’s coveted inboxes — needs to be segmented into highly targeted lists, as well.
I happen to be subscribed to Grammarly emails on both my work and personal emails. Because I only use the Grammarly Chrome extension at work, I receive emails like this:
In my personal account, however, I use Grammarly’s web app regularly and review thousands of words for a personal project. Here’s the email I get:
Throughout the email, Grammarly prompts you to upgrade to the premium version and take advantage of its other tools. Because I don’t use the Chrome extension in my personal email account, it includes a call-to-action to install the extension. It’s delightful to receive an email that uses my account activity as context.
Beyond email segmentation, your email lists need to be smart enough to know when to pull in a contact, and certain information you have in your database about that contact, into your email marketing campaigns.
Remember, a great context marketer delivers the right content, to the right person, at the right time. So to send emails that are contextually relevant, you need to use their activity and background to deliver personalized content that delights them and prompts them to convert.
Context Marketing Examples
While context marketing may sound complicated, it’s actually quite simple in practice. In fact, as a customer, you may have seen or enjoyed context marketing yourself. Let’s take a look at some examples.
1. Google’s Product Ads Carousel
Have you ever looked up a product on Google and see a carousel at the top (as opposed to just the plain search results)? The products you see are typically ads for the exact same thing you searched for.
This is a prime contextual marketing example. Google uses your behavior and search query to deliver ads that are contextually relevant. Imagine if, when searching for instant coffee, Google delivers ads for french presses instead. While you might be interested in French presses and even searched for them before, you’re looking for instant coffee right now.
That’s why it’s important to answer for your customer’s specific pain points and queries, and to do so at the right time. And you don’t have to be a highly sophisticated search engine to do so. Remember those offers we spoke about in the previous sections? That can function in the same way as Google’s product carousels.
2. Asana’s New Feature Pop-Up
There’s no more powerful place to carry out contextual marketing than right within your own product, website, or store. Asana’s example shows that you can upsell customers easily by marketing a new feature and prompting them to try it for free.
This is an excellent example of contextual marketing because you wouldn’t be interested in trying this new feature unless you were a current Asana user. For instance, if Asana had placed this pop-up on their homepage, they likely wouldn’t have much success with it. But because it pops up after you log in, you’re more likely to say, “Sure, I’ll try it.”
You can achieve something similar by instituting a website personalization campaign. When people visit your product page, for instance, they might see a popup to schedule a meeting with a salesperson. But when they’re on the blog, they might see a popup to subscribe. These simple changes can help you capture more leads and use the context from their activity to deliver an offer they won’t resist.
3. LinkedIn Company Page Sidebar Ad
When you visit a company page on LinkedIn, it provides a little sidebar ad that prompts you to find roles at that company that match your skills.
LinkedIn does this because it knows that you might be open to opportunities even if you don’t list it on your profile. And if you’re looking at a company page, you might be interested in working at that firm. LinkedIn uses this context to deliver a relevant ad that you can’t help but click on.
Another reason this is such a great example is that it also lists a job title that relates to yours. So if you’re a financial advisor and are looking at JP Morgan Chase’s company page, LinkedIn will automatically advertise financial advisor roles at the firm.
Context Marketing is the Next Evolution of Content Marketing
Without context, you risk reaching the wrong people at the wrong time. Begin using context in all of your marketing and advertising campaigns, and you’ll see an exponential increase in conversions, helping you exceed your lead acquisition goals and increase revenue at your company.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open
Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.
“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.
“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.
Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.
How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.
In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.
“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.
“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.
The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.
Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms
What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).
Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.
One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.
Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”
Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.
“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.
But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.
“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”
Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”
Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.
“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”
Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”
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Ascend | DigitalMarketer
At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.
Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.
So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling?
How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers.
Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.
Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.
The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics.
The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin.
If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs.
Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins.
If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.
The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that?
What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result.
What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good.
It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER.
Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.
You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”
The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition.
The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:
If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.
If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you.
People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works.
Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs.
It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier.
Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.
Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer.
Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.
2023 Facebook Algorithm Guide: Overview & Best Practices
Every month, 2.7 billion people use Facebook, Meta’s globe-dominating social network. For marketers, this is an un-ignorable audience. However, reaching that audience isn’t always easy – to get content in front of a relevant user, they need to make the Facebook algorithm work in their favor.
Unfortunately, the algorithm can feel very mysterious. Why do some posts go viral with engagement while others wither and disappear without so much as a few courtesy likes?
The good news is that while the technical rules governing Facebook’s algorithm may be in a black box, there are plenty of guidelines and common-sense tips that can help ensure your content gets prioritized and seen. Facebook has published many explainers and tutorials over the past few years to break down how its algorithm ranks and distributes content to users’ Feeds.
Here’s how Facebook’s algorithm works in 2023 with ten expert tips on increasing the impact, performance and lifecycle of your Facebook content.
Table of Contents
- What is the Facebook Algorithm?
- A Recent History of the Facebook Algorithm
- How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2023
- 10 Best Practices for Working with Facebook’s Algorithm
- Final Takeaway
What is the Facebook Algorithm?
The Facebook algorithm is the set of rules and formulas that determine what content users see in their Feeds. Its goal is to make the posts that “matter most to the user” highly visible to that user. To do this, it analyzes each piece of content eligible to be displayed and ranks them according to a set of criteria.
As Facebook explains, the algorithm is actually “not just one single algorithm; it’s multiple layers of [machine learning] models and rankings that we apply to predict the most relevant and meaningful content for each user.”
If that sounds complex, that’s because of the sheer volume of content on the Facebook platform. There are over 2 billion Facebook users and trillions of posts they can see; the algorithm needs to be sophisticated to sort through all that content in an instant between launching the Facebook application and the population of each user’s Feed.
A Recent History of the Facebook Algorithm
Since 2017, Facebook has been increasingly transparent about significant changes in how it ranks and distributes content. That also means the algorithm is constantly evolving. In general, those updates have favored user input, posts friends and family over publishers, and content personalized to a user’s interests… all geared toward generating more “meaningful interactions.” These updates include:
- Meaningful Interactions Update (2018) – This update signaled that the algorithm would predict which posts a user might want to interact with their friends about and show these posts higher in Feed. These posts inspire discussion in the comments and posts that users might want to share and react to.
- Updates to Video Rankings (2019) – This update boosted the rankings of video posts that users sought out and returned to, watched for more than one minute at a time, and were original creations and not repurposed content.
- Addressing Sensational Health Claims (2019) – This update applied some of the existing “clickbait” rules specifically to posts making medical or health claims in an effort to reduce misinformation. Exaggerated or sensational claims were deprioritized, as were posts promoting products that advertised “miracle” cures.
The past three years have seen additional updates, and since they’re more recent, they deserve closer examination.
2020: Key takeaway from 2020
In 2020, Facebook modified its algorithm again to give more weight to original, credible news sources and create more personalized advertising encounters for users based on their interactions. Additional updates this year included changes designed to comply with Apple’s iOS 14’s privacy guidelines.
- Prioritizing Original Sources: In response to users continually reporting a preference for “news stories that are credible and informative,” Facebook announced that it would make ongoing updates that “prioritize articles in News Feed that we identify as original reporting on a developing story or topic.”
- Personalized Ads: The Facebook algorithm serves advertisements to a user’s Feed based on the posts and pages they have engaged with previously. Businesses are also given the option to share information about the actions that users take on their websites and apps so they can show the most relevant content in users’ Facebook Feeds. To balance this process of information gathering and sharing, which also lays the foundation for personalized advertising on the platform, Facebook instituted the “Why am I seeing this ad” feature and the “Ad Preferences” dashboard for users (and to address privacy concerns).
- Retargeting Limitations: Even with expanded personalization, Facebook had to respond to the significant privacy and permissioning guidelines i=within the Apple iOS 14 update released in 2020 (Tinuiti’s Liz Emery takes a more detailed look at this topic here). When Apple users install or update to iOS 14, they will be prompted to opt-in or opt out of data sharing. While Facebook has other variables that can be used to identify devices, such as the associated email address and phone number, targeting that depends on users sharing their data at the device level is restricted based on this update.
2021: Machine Learning and User Control
In 2021, Facebook released new details about how the algorithm governing users’ Feeds works and increased the amount of control users have over what they see.
- Favorites: A new tool where users can control and prioritize posts in their Feeds from the friends and Pages they choose. By selecting up to 30 friends and Pages to include in Favorites, their posts will appear higher in ranked and can also be viewed as a separate filter.
- Revealing the algorithm’s machine learning mechanics: In 2021, Facebook published an in-depth post explaining how the Feed predicts what users want to see. For the first time, it detailed the machine learning processes behind predicting what users see in their Feeds based on various factors, including what and whom they’ve followed, liked, or engaged with recently. These mechanics are largely still in place today.
2022: From ML to AI
Last year, the Facebook algorithm evolved further in the direction of user control and augmented its use of machine learning tools with more sophisticated artificial intelligence systems. These two updates went hand-in-hand. Users were given a new function on each post they saw, the “Show More/Show Less” feature. Selecting “Show More” would increase the ranking score for that post, increasing the likelihood of a similar post or a similar user appearing in the user’s Feed. The inverse would happen when “Show Less” is selected.
These per-post user inputs are simultaneously helping the AI system generalize how relevant future content will be for that user. Or as Facebook puts it, “by offering more ways to incorporate direct feedback into Feed ranking, we’re making our artificial intelligence systems smarter and more responsive.”
Facebook’s AI model generates what the company calls user and content embeddings, which help predict the types of content a person wants to see more of or less of in their Feed. Another Facebook blog post from 2022 explains that a “user embedding captures a person’s tastes, while the content embedding captures the essence of what a post is about.”
One last update from 2022 – what was once called the Facebook News Feed is now just the “Feed.” That’s how we refer to it throughout this article, except where relevant due to historical discussion.
How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2023
That’s the state of the Facebook algorithm in 2023 – it has evolved to become an AI-powered, user-centric model designed to present users with relevant, welcome content in their Feeds. Even though Meta will admit that the algorithm isn’t perfect (and may never be), Facebook has demonstrated a willingness to modify its processes to give users what they want.
Despite the Facebook algorithm’s complexity and integration of new technologies like AI and machine learning, understanding its core functionality boils down to four ranking factors.
The Four Ranking Factors Fueling the Facebook Feed Algorithm
Prioritizing what “matters” to users has been one of the most consistent purposes of the Feed and all of its previous iterations. The goal of Facebook’s algorithm is to “show stories that matter to users,” according to Adam Mosseri, VP of Facebook’s News Feed Management. That aim is reflected across the platform’s many updates and tweaks to its algorithm, from more user control to increased personalization on advertisements.
With that in mind, you should know how Facebook’s different algorithm factors work together to determine which stories “matter” to a user. And Facebook made these factors easy to understand in its published help center post.
Inventory represents the stock of all content that can display to a user on Facebook’s News Feed, which fluctuates based on user activity once scrolling has begun. This includes everything posted by friends and publishers.
Signals represent the information that Facebook can gather about a piece of content. Signals are the single factor that you have control over.
These are your inputs that Facebook interprets; type of content, the publisher, its age, purpose, and more.
You want your content to signal to Facebook that it’s meaningful and relevant to your target audience.
Predictions represent a user’s behavior and how likely they are to engage with a content piece. Will a user watch a video to completion? Will they select the “Show More” feature on the post?
Predictions take authentic engagement like comments, likes, and shares from real profiles into account.
4. Relevancy Score
Relevancy Score is the final number assigned to a piece of content based on the likelihood that the user will respond positively to it. It also accounts for whether a post is “clickbait,” whether it links to a low-quality webpage, or if it’s misinformative in some way.
10 Best Practices for Working with Facebook’s Algorithm
So how can you tailor your content to ensure a high Relevancy Score and a strong enough ranking to appear in your target audience’s Feeds? Most of the following tips will be common sense if you currently produce content for social audiences, but many are specific to the sophisticated Facebook algorithm.
Here are some guidelines and best practices for keeping your content meaningful in Facebook’s eyes, based on our research, Facebook’s recommendations, and Matt Navara and Paul Armstrong’s coverage of Facebook’s News Feed webinar.
1. Keep posts relevant to your audience
Your content should always be relevant to your core audience — the people you want to build a community around. If your content is relevant to a user, the Facebook algorithm is likely to interpret that content as “meaningful,” a key consideration in ranking.
Stories should be compelling enough for a user to want to share with family and friends. Content should be informative and interesting… and, of course, accurate.
Products, education and lifestyle imagery, should reinforce your post’s meaningful and informative nature and build on your identity as a brand answering to a specific audience.
2. Engage readers and encourage interaction
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm favors content that fosters positive interactions between your followers and others.
Any piece of content, from products to education to entertainment — should provoke conversation. Remember that conversations can’t be one-sided; you want your audience to respond, but you must also respond to them when possible.
You want your content to prompt people to stop their scroll, interact, and share. Interaction is a crucial weighting factor for the Facebook algorithm, so all your content should be tailored to maximize engagement.
3. But don’t use clickbait or engagement bait
Remember all those “like if…” and “share if you are…” posts?
This is considered engagement baiting; it doesn’t add value or interaction for users. It may not entirely be clickbait, but the Facebook algorithm will penalize it as though it were.
Avoid asking people to “please comment, like, and share.” Your content should inspire them to engage without having to ask.
Facebook penalizes brands that encourage comments, likes, and shares on organic and ad posts. Keep this in mind when developing content for Instagram and Facebook.
4. Expand your post reach with employees and brand advocates
Because the Facebook algorithm gives preference to posts from users’ friends, families and the pages they interact with, your company’s Facebook page will have naturally limited reach. This is where enlisting employees and brand advocates can have a real impact.
Facebook represents your widest audience, but to reach them, you need to engage the audience closest to home. Encouraging your work team to share your brand’s content with their networks broadens the reach of the post or piece of content and your brand. Directly engaging with Facebook users who are already devotees of your brand and asking them to share content with their friends and family can have a similar effect.,
5. Or put ad dollars behind content with organic momentum
The new Facebook algorithm values content that performs well organically, and you can build off that momentum by boosting or promoting that content with ad dollars.
Content that already has strong organic traction means lower CPCs which, combined with ad dollars, can act as a snowball effect for your content.
Identify opportunities for ads based on organic post engagement and tap into Facebook Ads Manager tools by leveraging these posts in ads.
Conversely, don’t waste ad dollars on poor-performing organic content. It will have higher CPCs and cost you more while offering less in return.
“If a post performs well with engagement, likes, and shares, there’s an opportunity to place additional ad dollars to drive that performance even further.”
— Nii Ahene, Chief Strategy Officer at Tinuiti
6. Create compelling, original video content
2019 was the year that Facebook began leaning into its video offering in earnest, and it hasn’t stopped since. Today, the video formats available on Facebook have expanded to include Reels and Stories (shorter clips), Video on Demand and Live video. Reels, in particular, is Facebook’s fastest-growing content format “by far.” s video continues to be the top-performing content type across all social media networks, focusing on video should be a central part of your Facebook marketing strategy.
For your video content to perform best in the Feed, Facebook recommends that it be original, capture the audience’s attention, spark engagement, and inspire users to seek additional video content from the same source.
To create original and authentic Reels, Stories and full-length videos, make sure they capture your brand’s voice and avoid duplicating content. To retain attention, ensure your creative and copy is optimized towards mobile viewing (i.e., shortened copy, readable overlays, shortened headlines). And to generate engagement, encourage discussion and genuine interactions (but like always, avoid engagement bait).
7. Inspire audiences and evoke emotion with storytelling
Just as videos should be original, engaging and attention-grabbing, so should any content you post on Facebook. Understand the kinds of stories that resonate with your audience and craft your posts to tell those stories in an exciting way.
You can create connections with your audience through authenticity, interactivity and accuracy. But the surest way is by listening. Ask for feedback. Learn their interests. Take cues from their activity on other platforms. When you know what your audience cares about, you have a better chance of inspiring them… and a better chance of rising to the top of their Feeds.
8. Post authentic and truthful content
Facebook says that “authentic stories are the ones that resonate most” and that users want to see accurate information. After the controversies surrounding “fake news” and the spread of dis- and misinformation on the platform in recent years, the company has made promoting truthful content central to the Facebook algorithm’s function.
To signal that your content is genuine and accurate, write clear headlines free from exaggeration or sensationalism. Use well-sourced, reliable information, and avoid sharing content from sources you need clarification on. And above all, don’t lie or try to mislead with your content.
9. Schedule content when readers are likely to engage
The Facebook Feed is no longer chronological, but timing can still impact post performance within the algorithm. You want to post content when your audience is likely to engage with it, which is likely in the evening or overnight, but it can vary widely by the user. There is some research exploring the objectively ideal time for posting, but the ultimate best practice is understanding your audience and when they are most likely to be on the platform.
10. Learn what works by tracking content performance
After you’ve published your content, remember to use Facebook Insights to track the performance of your content. This will help you understand how your different content pieces are performing in terms of engagement, which is the key ranking metric.
Facebook also offers a variety of tools designed to help you measure both organic content and paid ads. Choose the best tools for your brand, and track performance regularly. Learn from your own Insights data and the tools you use, and optimize your content from there.
The Facebook algorithm is sophisticated and constantly evolving. There are few shortcuts and no way to “hack” it. But the steps outlined in this article can help make the algorithm work for you and help you get your content in front of the Facebook users who need to see it.
Want to work with our team of Facebook experts? Reach out today!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Greg Swan in April 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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