Events and the Facebook Algorithm
The Facebook algorithm. If you run a business and you use Facebook, you have probably had your run-ins with the algorithm. If you are a casual user of Facebook, you have probably seen the current fad that is making its way around Facebook right now telling you that if you copy a post you will all of a sudden see all of your friend’s posts again rather than the 25 or so Facebook allows you to see currently based on the algorithm. Nearly everyone has at least a casual awareness that Facebook uses algorithms to determine what is seen by people in their feed. It’s no secret that there is an algorithm but how it works is indeed a closely guarded secret. If you pay attention though, you can learn about the algorithm and find ways to use it to your advantage. I’m here to talk about one of those ways right now. I mentioned this as one of the reasons Ecommerce brands should do events and literally dozens of you read that article so in the short time I have left before some major publication picks me up to write for them or some big university invites me to lecture, I’ll share this insight with you, my tens of fans. This trick is events and the Facebook algorithm.
Facebook will not come out and tell you what things you can do to improve your visibility to your friends and fans. In fact, they have done pretty much everything they can over the last few years to remove anything you used to be able to do to get organic reach and are trying to force you in to spending on Facebook advertising as the only way to reach people. It is true for sure that they are knocking down organic reach. Gone are the glory days when you could start a page and if you had good content, it would get around to everyone with you paying nothing to get it there. But its not true in all cases. Sometimes Facebook does things that show you what their priorities are in the algorithm. When they do, you need to take advantage while you can because it won’t always stay that way. Take Facebook live for example. When that first started, Facebook would notify your fans any time you went live and would move live videos to the top of the news feed. As everyone discovered that, including your mom, they reduced live in the algorithm back to ranking about the same as your neighbor who rants about politics. Following the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook has made statements saying they want to return the news feed back to people and community. There are several ways they are doing this algorithmically, but one way that is noticeable and is a way that businesses can take advantage of is events on Facebook.
First, let’s take a look at notifications. Notifications are obviously important because they jump right out at the user and are often the reason why someone gets on to their Facebook in the first place. Right now, Facebook is prioritizing events to the point that they are notifying people with push notifications about events.
Take a look at a sample of my own notifications.
I was notified that someone had posted in an event, that someone had added new events, that I was invited to an event, and a reminder about an event that I never even said I was attending that is coming up at the end of the week. Facebook wants me to know when things are happening with events. They want to make sure that I can’t miss it. In addition to event notifications that Facebook thinks I am connected to, they also will notify you about events your friends are connected to that you are not. You will see event notifications letting you know that friends are attending events in your area or whenever a friend has said they are interested in attending an event (as long as the event is public). Facebook is doing all they can right now to make sure people are seeing event information in their news feeds and businesses can take advantage of that to reach new people and have your company’s brand spread more widely without having to spend on advertising.
Now let’s take a look at Facebook’s events page. If you are not familiar with the events page on Facebook, it’s on the left-hand side of your screen. If you have not ever clicked on that button, you are missing out on some very interesting information. You may not be familiar with this page, but there is a large group of people out there who are. Because I’m sure you read my seminal work on Ecommerce brands and events, I am sure you remember when I talked about large demographic groups who prefer experiences to things. Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to Thomas Gilovich. He’s a professor at Cornell University. Cornell. You should listen to him. He conducted four different studies over decades of time and concluded, according to Big Think,
"People often think spending money on an experience is not as wise an investment as spending it on a material possession. They think the experience will come and go in a flash, and they'll be left with little compared to owning an item. But in reality we remember experiences long afterward, while we soon become used to our possessions. At the same time, we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession."
Ok so what does that mean? It means that when you create an event, you are going to reach people who are interested in events. This could be an entirely new marketing channel for you or it could reinforce current channels as you find people who are already fans of your brand who also like events and have their love of your brand reinforced by finding that you put on events that they are interested in as well.
So what’s on that events page? Here’s an overview
On one page, you can find information about events you have been invited to, events that Facebook thinks that you might like, events that are popular across Facebook that are local to you, events that are popular with your friends, and recently announced events. On one page, all of this information about events is available and by you creating an event yourself, you can get on to this page and in front of this audience.
The Facebook algorithm seems at times to be designed to hurt businesses and favor only those who have big budgets to spend on Facebook advertising. I’ve shown you here a trick that works. For now. We all know that Facebook continuously changes the algorithm and what they are doing with events could be changed in the future. For now though, creating an event is an awesome way to use the Facebook algorithm to benefit your business, if you have an event. If you don’t want to do events, resign yourself to increasing advertising budgets with diminishing returns. Even worse, resign yourself to watching your competitors figure this out and start beating you to new customers. Can you afford that?