Meta provides new information on how its video distribution algorithms work

If you haven’t heard, Meta really wants you to post more Reels, with Reels being the fastest growing engagement surface in its apps, and already taking more than 20% of the total time people spend on Instagram.

In fact, video in general is Meta’s most engaging content format, taking up a portion 50% of the time people spend on Facebook. As such, it’s no surprise that Meta continues to push users to share more reels, as a way to both entice more people to spend more time in its apps, while helping to bolster their presence and their confidence in its tools.

And if you’re looking to post video content to Facebook or Instagram, it’s worth a look. Today, Meta has posted a new preview key things it considers in its video ranking algorithms – i.e. what it takes into account when deciding how high your video posts will reach.

The full preview, which you can read hereincludes detailed explanations for each item, but in this article, we’ll break down the four key signals Meta uses to rank video content.

The first element of its video ranking equation is “originality,” which aligns with Meta wider push to amplify original creatorsand offer more exposure potential in its applications.

As explained by Meta:

Original videos reflect the unique voice and value of the content creator. They are distinctive and are produced in a way that has never been done before. We prioritize original video to reward hard work creating authentic content.

Which is all good, all logical, both from a strategic and commitment point of view. But how do you ensure that your videos are recognized for their originality?

Well, the obvious is that it has to be unique content, created by you and posted to your Page. You can also add your own unique takes to other material, but the emphasis should be on originality, as opposed to re-posting.

Essentially, as Meta has already indicated, this will reduce the scope of the reshared content, in favor of the original material. So if you’re sharing memes and GIFs again as a baiting tactic, it might be time to rethink that approach.

The second Meta notes element is ‘Ccapture and hold attention.

Meta says that videos that capture audiences’ attention and keep people watching until the end are likely to see their distribution increase accordingly.

“Retention is one of the indicators of how content has been received by audiences – a slow, gradual decline in spectators retention chart may show that the topic and structure of the video is well aligned with what your audience wants to see, while early abandonment may mean the content is not what the viewer expected.

So you need to keep people watching, which requires focusing on your content structure, to maximize ongoing engagement. Which, of course, is often easier said than done – if all the marketers who call themselves “storytellers” were so good at telling stories, they’d probably be writing books and movies instead.

Storytelling, in itself, requires research and thought, and it might be worth reading things like ‘The writer’s journey‘ and other narrative structure books to better understand the fundamentals of audience engagement.

Not all of your promotions will fit into a traditional story arc, but capturing the key elements could be a way to ensure optimal retention and, therefore, increase the reach of your content.

Also important – despite the focus on retention, Meta says content length is not a key consideration.

“Content should only be as long as necessary for it to be relevant and engaging and maintain audience interest throughout.”

Meta also suggests that creators consider adding “burned in” captions to maximize retention across devices, while production quality can also play a role in keeping people engaged.

Fidelity and intent is the next key element, with Meta emphasizing repeat viewership.

“When people consistently return to view an account’s videos, we see that as a strong and positive signal for distribution. This is especially true when we see people actively searching for your content or searching for it on video destinations like Facebook Watch or directly to your account.

Similar to holding the viewer’s attention, it’s one thing to say it and another to do it, and it can be difficult to keep producing high-quality, engaging video content that keeps people coming back for more.

Meta suggests that posting bonus and unexpected content can help keep your fans engaged, generating interest (potentially via reels, stories, etc.), while using a longer storytelling approach, on multiple videos, can also help maintain viewership. commitment.

Meta also suggests that creators look to optimize their content for Facebook search.

“This includes writing clear titles, descriptions for your posts, and adding a few relevant tags. This can help more people see your content, both through search results and through the recommended videos we show. to people in Feed and in Facebook Watch.

The final element highlighted by Meta is “engagement” – i.e. likes, shares, comments.

“We prioritize content that sparks meaningful conversations and interactions between real people. We do this by increasing the distribution of videos that inspire friend-to-friend or person-to-person interactions. »

So it’s not just the comments themselves that Meta is now looking to highlight, but the comments that trigger other responses and conversations in the feed. It’s harder for scammers to play because while it’s relatively easy to automate a bunch of random comments, which no one really reads or cares about, it’s hard to drive a conversation through automated means.

As such, sparking further discussion is the next level of this type of engagement, which then tells the Meta system that people are looking to tell others about your video or post.

You can drive engagement by asking questions or delving into the latest talking points within your industry or niche, which others may also want to weigh in on.

Of course, another less ethical way to do this is to take a partisan stance on a divisive issue – whether you believe it yourself or not.

Many media commentators have weaponized this approach, with personalities you can count on to take the most polarizing and extreme side of any argument, which then triggers a response, engagement, etc.

Sportscaster Skip Bayless is a good example. Bayless is known for his intense hatred of LeBron James, who by any measure is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. But Bayless knows his criticism of LeBron will spark a flood of social media activity in response.

Politicians have learned this too – and it’s worth asking yourself, before responding to any comments or remarks you disagree with online, if you’re doing exactly what that person wants.

As a branding tactic, it’s incredibly risky, but divisive comments can help drive engagement, which can then trigger greater reach.

Additionally, whether Meta wants to admit it or not, algorithmic amplification like this has contributed to more societal division, as it incites argument as a way to improve performance.

So here are the four key elements that Meta has built into its video distribution algorithm:

  • Originality
  • Capture and hold attention
  • Loyalty and intention
  • Commitment

Focusing on these will help improve your video’s performance – while conversely, Meta also advises that videos could see reduced distribution due to these common missteps:

  • Feel more like slideshows – Meta says videos that rely too heavily on static images may see their distribution reduced
  • To employ crafted sharing behaviors – Meta states that when an account’s content is artificially distributed through shares or shares within a group, usually in exchange for compensation, it will also seek to downgrade them. “For example, when an account repeatedly shares content from another page that they have no direct connection to, and the content is not related to any topic on their page.”
  • Use baiting tactics – Do not encourage people to like, share or comment on content just to increase reach. Inspiring an organic response is fine, but if the Meta system thinks you’re just looking for comments to mess with the system, it’ll punch you for it.
  • Do not post ‘Watchbait‘ – Watchbait is when a video intentionally withholds information, sensationalizes content, or misleads viewers into watching or engaging. Like, you know, every YouTube thumbnail that shows an amazed presenter looking at an image from the video that may or may not actually exist.
  • Don’t post Clickbait – Clickbait aims to grab attention by intentionally omitting crucial information from a headline or exaggerating details of a story to make it seem more important than it really is.

Meta says pages that repeatedly exhibit these behaviors “could ultimately lose the ability to generate revenue through in-app ads or other monetization tools.”

I mean, most of them are pretty obvious, but it’s worth noting that insider circles and groups designed to boost engagement are frowned upon by Meta systems. It’s hard to say how good Meta’s process is at detecting this, but if you’re caught off guard, it could pose problems for your strategy.

This is valuable insight into Meta’s evolving approach to video distribution, which is crucial information for video creators and brands. And while there’s no prescriptive way to meet all of these requirements, it’s worth taking a moment to think about your video approach in accordance with these pointers.

You can read Meta’s full video distribution overview here.

Sharon D. Cole