Best of Digital Summit 2020: Astrella’s Heather Dopson on Leveraging the Facebook Algorithm Better


We’re celebrating and spotlighting some of our favorite, highest rated sessions from our Digital Summit at Home events from 2020. In this recap, we feature Heather Dopson (@heatherdopson) of Astrella, who brought a ton of insight on how to better leverage the Facebook algorithm to our DS at Home event in October

At our Digital Summit at Home event in October (2020), Heather Dopson, Director of Brand and Community Growth at Astrella, gave attendees a nice clinic on the evolution of the Facebook algorithm, why it matters to content marketers, and how you can leverage it better. 

So what’s so important about the Facebook algorithm? The Facebook algorithm is based on over 100,000 pieces of data that determine what users see on their News Feed.  In 2018, Facebook announced they were making a shift towards highlighting content from friends and family as a way to encourage meaningful interactions between people (04:48). 

Facebook announced that they would start making changes to the algorithm and those changes would be seen first in News Feed (06:17). Over the past few months, marketers have begun to see these changes as not only businesses, brands, and media are held to higher standards, but public content as well. 

Other important insights and actions from Heather’s talk included:

The Newsfeed Algorithm (12:58)

In 2019, Facebook sent out surveys to ask users what they can do better with two goals in mind: 

  • Better connecting you with the people you care about
  • Better connecting you with the posts you care about

Using those survey results, Facebook updated its algorithm to prioritize the pages and groups users care about the most. Current algorithm components include inventory, signals, predictions, and overall score. 

Previously, marketers Current signals (15:42) include; sharing (including messenger), multiple replies to a comment, engagement with a brand post shared by a friend, and reactions. 

Facebook wants active over passive activity. Active would include commenting, sharing, and reacting. Passive activity is includes clicking, watching, and hovering. Facebook’s former Head of News Feed said that page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed (19:44). 

Video Reigns Supreme (21:11)

When it comes to video success with the algorithm, there are three factors:

  • Loyalty and intent
  • Video and viewing duration
  • Originality 

The algorithm wants to capture people’s attention for at least one minute, prefer videos that are at least three minutes long, and want users to continuously interact with your content. 

It’s important to know that Facebook Video has not reached its saturation point because most marketers aren’t doing video well. Here is some key data to improve your video on Facebook: 

  • Vertical is better
  • The optimal video length is 2-5 minutes
  • Descriptions with more than 300 words have the highest rate of engagement
  • Use closed captions

The Things Impacting Your Content (26:21)

Next Heather dives into what is impacting your content and how it shows on News Feed. 

  • Negative feedback: Negative feedback includes hiding the post, hiding all posts, marking as spam, or unliking the page. 
  • Withholding information: Any content that withholds important information or content. 
  • Sensationalized language: Content that is designed to shock, thrill, excite or entice intense emotions. 
  • Engagement bait: Anything encouraging people to take an action. This includes vote, reaction, share, tag, and comment baiting. Engagement baiting includes both text and audio within your videos (30:06).

The Comment Algorithm (32:24)

Comments also have an impact on Facebook, with moderation signals being one of the moment important aspects. The algorithm looks to see if the page has comments from the page and if users are interacting with the page. 

Groups and Messenger Get the Love (34:09)

Groups and messenger are the focus on Facebook right now. Instagram and Facebook messengers are now combining and want to make messenger a stand-alone experience. Start working on how you’ll leverage these tools in your marketing strategy. 

To find success with Facebook’s algorithm is to focus on engagement and drive meaningful conversations. Hopefully, these tips and tactics to strategize your content and social media marketing plans help you throughout 2021!

To hear from experts like Heather and hundreds of others that teach at Digital Summit, check out our 2021 calendar of virtual and in-person events.

Kick off 2021 with a bang and join us on January 27 for Digital Summit Go!, a FREE 1-day online event featuring 12 of our best speakers. Hear 12 rapid fire talks on Content, Social, Email, and SEO with tons of actionable takeaways to help your marketing soar in the new year. Did we mention that it’s FREE? 🙂