Mrs. Smith's 3rd grade class designs Facebook's Video algorithm, or so it seems
It is no secret that Facebook is competing with other social apps in a determined effort to be all things to everyone and the last app standing. A short time back they took on YouTube in an attempt for most video views. To accomplish this they rewarded Fans who uploaded video directly rather than using a YouTube link with better looks, autoplay, metrics and, most importantly, increased Views and Reach. If you upload a video directly to Facebook you get an algorithm bonus and Facebook pushes you higher and wider so more people will see your post. This was like magic to many small businesses that saw the views on their posts 10’s, 100’s and even 1000’s times higher than ever before.
This client had a modest 2,000 Fans on their page. These results are Organic
This all seems like an incredible gift, and it is, but there are complications created by Facebook that are outside the control of Page Owners. First it is about reasonable expectation setting. Videos receiving many times their normal expected Reach and Engagement can put a shop owner’s head in the clouds. And all too quickly the realization that this was an anomaly not likely repeated can be a real let down. But lack of control is probably the most disconcerting. The two charts below paint a queer picture of how Facebook chose to twist this client’s marketing efforts.
The chart on the left shows the Fans of the Page. The breakdown is as the client requested with a greater focus on U.S. and a smaller number for their Hong Kong headquarters. Additionally, India is a focus for select inventory. The demographic targeting is accurate. However, the Fans Reached in the month of the “great” video shows a markedly different Reach with Malaysia, a non-target country, receiving 50% of all views. Small businesses benefit from precise marketing to make sure money and effort is not wasted. So it is curious why Facebook’s video algorithm decided that a country excluded from the client’s target market now be included? As this action was created from the Facebook algorithm there was no way for the Page owner to influence, redirect or even object.
As we see Facebook and other social sites try and increase Engagement rates to demonstrate relevance we will likely continue to see marketing actions that are outside the Page owner's control or wishes. Taking this to a logical conclusion of how does Facebook make money off of this I can only conclude that as Facebook takes more control away from non-sponsored ads they will be encouraging Facebook page owners to regain control through paid targeted promotions. And of course there is social media optimization which continues to be a powerful marketing tool.