The Facebook algorithm determines who will see your brand’s content. Learn how it works so you can create better content that reaches your target audience effectively.

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What is the Facebook algorithm?
  2. How does the Facebook algorithm work?
  3. How to run campaigns that align with the Facebook algorithm
  4. Troubleshooting tips for the Facebook algorithm
  5. Checklist for beating the Facebook algorithm

Like a real-time scoring system, the Facebook algorithm filters and ranks social media content for each individual user. For marketers, understanding how this system ranks content (and why) can mean the difference between a failed campaign and a viral post.

In this article, we’ll explore how the Facebook algorithm works for paid and organic content and share tips and troubleshooting advice you can use to build more successful Facebook marketing campaigns.

What is the Facebook algorithm?

The Facebook algorithm is the system the social media network uses to identify, rank, and display content in various feeds. It’s the series of processes and data points that determine how Facebook distributes content across all surfaces, including Facebook’s:

  • Feed
  • Stories
  • Video
  • Reels
  • Groups
  • Ads

In fact, the algorithm even determines the search results and comments you see on Facebook. Think of it as an always-on system that runs in the background, pinpointing the most relevant results to show.

While the Facebook algorithm uses specific processes and user data, the general concept isn’t unique. Every social media platform and search engine uses an algorithm to filter and rank content.

How does the Facebook algorithm work?

Across every surface (e.g., news feed, ads, and stories), the goal of the algorithm is the same. The system surfaces content most relevant to the user and most likely to drive engagement.

What kind of action does Facebook aim to encourage? Depending on the surface, engagement could include:

  • Clicking to view a search result or see more of a caption
  • Liking or reacting to a post
  • Replying to a story
  • Sharing a video to the user’s feed
  • Using a reel’s audio or template to create new content
  • Clicking on an ad and completing a conversion

How Facebook distributes content

Facebook uses a series of four steps to find, rank, and distribute content.

1. Identify content sources

First, the network determines potential sources to create a preliminary pool of content. The source types depend on how the surface works.

For example, the stories feed almost exclusively shows content from Facebook users, creators, and businesses you already follow. The ad algorithm considers a much wider range of interest and engagement signals. Below, we’ll explore all of these in depth.

2. Consider content signals

Next, Facebook considers information about each piece of content.

Signals may include:

  • Which account published the content?
  • How recently was the content published?
  • How popular is the content (e.g., how much engagement did it already generate)?

3. Predict engagement

Then Facebook predicts how individual users will respond to each piece of content. These predictions depend on each user’s unique data.

Considerations may include how likely a user is to:

  • React, comment, or share the content
  • Watch the reel or video all the way to the end
  • Click to view the original creator’s profile or follow them

4. Develop relevance scores

Finally, Facebook compiles all these signals and predictions to estimate how relevant a post, story, video, ad, or search result is to an individual user. The algorithm ranks content based on this score.

“The new Facebook algorithm’s goal is to ensure everyone sees posts from the people they find valuable,” explains Simon Bacher, CEO and co-founder of Ling App.

“The platform gives a relevance score, wherein a high content score means a higher feed placement. Our Ling social media content strategy has changed because of this recent algorithm update.”

How Facebook ranks content across surfaces

While the main principle is the same across Facebook, the inputs are a little different for each surface. Here’s a brief overview of how Facebook uses AI and machine learning for each algorithm.

Facebook algorithm: News feed

Since the news feed includes content from accounts that users already follow and content from recommended sources, it has the most complex ranking factors.

The main inputs for Facebook’s news feed algorithm include:

  • The amount of time the user is likely to spend reading or looking at a post
  • The likelihood that the user will stop scrolling through the feed to view a post
  • The likelihood that the user will tap or click to read additional comments
  • The value the post is likely to deliver, based on the user’s history and the post’s popularity

Facebook algorithm: Business pages

Facebook pages and professional profiles have news feeds that are similar to individual accounts. As a result, the Facebook algorithm for business accounts uses the same types of signals and predictions.

Facebook algorithm: Stories

The stories feed only shows content from people and businesses the user already follows. As a result, the total volume of potential content is much smaller than it is in other feeds.

In addition, the stories feed works a little differently. Users have to click or tap to open stories and to continue scrolling through the feed.

As a result, the stories algorithm uses signals from you and other users to predict how likely a user is to:

  • Open and view a story
  • View subsequent stories from the same creator
  • Send a reaction or reply to the story
  • Spend watching a creator’s stories
  • Engage with stickers in a story

Facebook algorithm: Video

The Facebook video algorithm uses two recommendation systems to rank content in your feed (including live videos) and to score the videos that appear next. Both systems consider the likelihood that the user will:

  • Watch a video for at least 30 seconds, based on the user’s past behavior
  • React positively to a video (e.g., like or love)
  • Click to view the creator’s profile
  • Share the video in DMs
  • Comment on the video

Facebook algorithm: Reels

Because the Facebook reels feed is geared toward discovery, it’s much more likely to include content from accounts that users don’t yet follow. To deliver engaging, relevant content, the reels algorithm considers signals like:

  • How much of the reel the user is likely to view — and how likely the user is to complete the reel
  • If the user is likely to open a reel from the feed
  • Whether the user is likely to leave a positive reaction on the reel

Similar to the video feed, the reels feed uses a secondary recommendation system to rank the short-form videos that appear next as the user scrolls. This secondary system also considers the user’s likelihood to share the reel and follow the creator.

Facebook algorithm: Groups

The Facebook algorithm for groups is designed to maximize value for each user, based on interests and past behaviors. It also prioritizes variety, which means it aims to show different kinds of content to provide a mix of video, image, and text posts. The groups algorithm considers how likely the user is to:

  • Engage with the post
  • Spend time viewing the post
  • Hide the post
  • Read comments on the post
  • Join a group after viewing a suggested post

Facebook algorithm: Ads

Because the Facebook ad algorithm considers advertiser input and user signals, it works a little differently from any of the organic feeds. For advertisers, the most important factor is building the right target audience. Before ads can enter the auction, they must target the user in question.

Then Facebook ads algorithm calculates a total value score to rank paid content. This score is based on the bid, the ad quality, and the estimated action rate.

The ad algorithm uses machine learning to calculate an estimated action rate based on how likely a user is to take the action that the ad prompts. This system considers user behavior on and off Facebook.

How to run campaigns that align with the Facebook algorithm

Content and campaigns that work with (instead of against) the Facebook algorithm are more likely to generate higher reach, engagement, and conversions. Use the tips below to plan more successful digital marketing campaigns or to rethink your content strategy.

Produce original high-quality content

No matter what types of content you publish, Facebook prioritizes originality. To give your content the best chance at maximum distribution, aim to publish original, high-quality content every time.

What does original content mean exactly? Facebook defines original content as copy, images, and videos your team had a hand in producing.

That could include:

  • Interviews with your team members
  • A photoshoot featuring your products
  • Customer stories featuring original videos

Does that mean you should never post user-generated content (UGC) from a customer or repost a video you originally published over a month ago? Not exactly. But Facebook does encourage what it calls meaningful enhancements. To get more mileage from old content, consider:

  • Making completely new edits that change the look and messaging of the video
  • Recording a new voiceover that adds original information

Facebook pages that regularly repost memes, images, and videos from third-party sources may get flagged for limited originality. Over time, these flags can reduce your page’s distribution.

Experiment with a variety of content formats

Facebook users don’t want to see the same types of posts over and over. That’s why some Facebook feeds prioritize delivering a variety of text, image, and video content.

To keep your audience engaged and give your content a better chance of getting a high score, experiment with new formats. For example, if you usually post images, test videos or reels.

“Now more than ever, we aim to create more targeted, diversified, and engaging social media posts to maintain audience interest. Hence, we incorporate language events, gamification elements, QR codes, animation, avatars, and infographics to remain competitive,” shares Bacher.

Another benefit of testing formats is that you create new opportunities for Facebook users to discover your content. For example, create content for the news feed, reels feed, and stories feed.

Living Foods optimizes

For example, GT’s Living Foods optimizes content for the news feed (above) and the stories feed (below).

Living Foods reel

Experimenting with various formats and feeds can benefit your marketing strategy and your advertising strategy. It can also improve your Facebook advertising return on investment (ROI).

“We believe that the more specific and targeted you can get with ad placements on Facebook, the more likely Facebook is to show your ads (i.e., be able to ‘beat’ the algorithm),” shares Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM.

“The more targeted your ads are, the higher the engagement rate will be. We’ve learned that ads that have higher engagement rates will likely be shown more often, which can optimize Facebook ad costs.”

Use in-app content creation tools

To create quality content for Facebook, you may need third-party editing apps. While there’s no rule against using external tools, you shouldn’t let them completely replace native content creation tools.


For example, you can access templates and add interactive stickers when you publish reels and stories natively. Since the algorithm factors in how users engage with stickers, using them may improve your organic reach.

Create content your audience cares about

For most marketers, the most efficient way to reach social media management goals is to publish content that aligns with your target audience’s interests, challenges, and goals.

What does your audience care about? The easiest way to find the topics and content types they prefer is to check your page’s Facebook insights.


With Facebook’s reach and engagement reports, you can see the post type and format that performed best. You can also dive into metrics for individual posts, reels, and stories for more nuanced insights.

Tools like ConversionIQ can also pinpoint the types of ads and messaging that work best for your audience. CIQ tracks every step of the buyer’s journey, providing deep insights into the target audience.

“With targeted Meta ads and CIQ, HawkSEM was able to help Apotheke increase conversion rates by 25% and grow year-over-year (YoY) return on ad spend (ROAS) by 62%,” explains Yadegar.

Generate meaningful interactions

Content that gets likes and reactions can certainly rank higher and get wider distribution. But Facebook typically prioritizes content that gets what the social network calls meaningful interactions.

Essentially, meaningful interactions are more in-depth conversations or comment threads. In other words, create content that’s likely to spark a conversation and get your audience talking.

Focus on genuine questions and conversation starters. Avoid engagement bait that prompts followers to respond in a specific way. We’ll explore this issue further below.

Engage users in the Facebook app

Whether you’re running Facebook ads or managing organic social media, post content that gets users to engage without leaving the app. The social network often deprioritizes content with external links and prioritizes content that encourages users to interact with the app longer.

Focus on creating native organic content like:

  • Original reels
  • Quality videos
  • Image and text posts without links

For ads, consider conversions like:

  • Video views
  • Messages
  • Lead forms

Encourage followers to favorite your page

The Facebook algorithm uses ranking signals like past behavior and content popularity to predict whether users will engage with a post. But users can also take manual actions to direct the algorithm.


To increase the chance that followers will see your business page’s content, encourage them to favorite your page. Then they’ll see your organic content near the top of their feed. The more often they see it, the more often they’ll be likely to engage — which can boost your content popularity signals.

Troubleshooting tips for the Facebook algorithm

Among social media marketers and advertisers, the Facebook algorithm sometimes has a negative connotation. Some marketers blame Facebook algorithm issues for low reach or limited conversions.

It isn’t exactly wrong to consider the algorithm at fault. But remember that this system is in place to deliver the most relevant and most engaging content to each individual user.

To improve your social media ROI, maximize the time active users spend in the app. If your content isn’t creating the most optimal user experience, these troubleshooting tips may help.

Avoid creating clickbait or sharing misinformation

Publishing misleading content (i.e., clickbait) or misinformation (i.e., fake news) to your business page can cause Facebook to deprioritize your content. Over time, that can lead to dramatically lower reach and engagement.

Including misinformation or misleading content in ads can lead to even worse outcomes. Facebook often flags ads for misinformation (including health claims), which can delay your ad campaigns. After repeated issues, Facebook may even suspend your ad account, making it impossible to advertise.

Don’t repost “borrowed” content

Reposting memes or repeating content you originally published weeks ago may seem like an easy way to post more content quickly. However, publishing content with limited originality can get your page flagged.

If reposting content is part of your Facebook strategy, start thinking about ways your team can create more original content. You can also use these reposting tactics, which won’t harm your reach:

  • Cross-post a video from a partner page
  • Post Instagram content directly to Facebook
  • Share a follower’s post or story about your brand directly to your brand’s stories

Know which keywords not to use

There’s no definitive list of Facebook algorithm words to avoid. But these guidelines can help you avoid publishing content that Facebook deprioritizes:

Don’t directly ask for engagement

Facebook refers to organic content that requests a specific type of interaction as engagement bait. Avoid directly asking users to like, comment, or share a post, reel, or story.

Facebook views these prompts as attempts to increase engagement in an artificial way. The social network often deprioritizes this content since it typically creates poor user experiences.

Stay on top of Facebook algorithm changes

The AI-driven ranking signals and prediction formulas that Facebook uses today aren’t necessarily the same ones that the social network will use next month or year. To maximize your social media and advertising ROI, monitor Facebook algorithm updates and your own Facebook page insights.

The takeaway

Creating content and campaigns that work with the Facebook algorithm is key to increasing social media ROI. But for small business and enterprise users alike, beating the algorithm is often easier said than done.

Our seasoned social media marketing team is here to help. Book a free consultation to learn more about our social media services.


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