Understanding the Engagement Algorithm: Facebook


Facebook has evolved into something more than just a social platform. A fun upgrade from the days of MySpace, the Facebook app that was once used as an easy way to make new friends and keep track of them has evolved into a digital marketers dream. Businesses and Entrepreneurs alike are having a field day with the extreme levels of functionality the platform provides in terms of marketing and engagement. And it’s easy to see why!

Turning casual clickers into rabid followers is something every business wants, and the tools to build an engaging social campaign are practically built-in to Facebook. Their backend services provide incredible functionality in terms of audience targeting and data analytics. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at how Facebook Ads Work, and some of the features that are making the platform so overwhelmingly effective.

The Engagement Algorithm

Is the term “Engagement Algorithm” foreign to you? If it is, let me explain a bit about how Facebook decides what to show you, and what not to show you. Engagement refers to any action a user takes with a post – commenting, liking, sharing, and reacting for example. By reacting to certain posts over time, and ignoring or even reporting others, Facebook can build user profiles that determine what appears on a newsfeed in terms of ads, promoted content, and even whether or not you’ll see that funny video your cousin Terry shared with the puppies in it. You know the one.

An interesting note about the engagement algorithm that many don’t realize – reacting to a post in any way will increase your engagement with it. This is why when you see a user angrily reacting to an ad that they claim to have already seen, they may end up seeing the same ad later down the road! By reacting to the post, they have increased their engagement with it! A better tactic is to report the post as Spam or as Irrelevant, which will remove it from your algorithmic metric completely.

Demographic Ad Targeting

There are a couple of different ways Facebook users influencer their own demographic metrics that allow Facebook to target them more effectively with content. The first is the most obvious – when users fill out their own demographic data. Residence, employers, date of birth, gender, even things like your education and interests all allow the Facebook algorithm to target you demographically.

The other method of demographic targeting is just as effective but not quite as obvious: Engaging with almost any demographically charged content. From camping videos to cats do the darndest things videos to sports video – by engaging with almost any post on Facebook, you’ll alter your own demographic information in terms of the algorithm. The combinations are vast and perhaps innumerable, which means that a powerful backend capable of capturing and analyzing the data can provide pin-point insights in terms of demographic marketing. Which brings us to…

The FB Backend

Facebook’s backend marketing tools allow social media influencers and marketers to pick and choose through the demographics they wish to target, then scale the “reach” of their engagement based on how much they’re willing to invest. Because of the wealth of information available, the backend can make valuable and insightful decisions far easier to make – assuming you know who you want to target.


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