Medalist Athlete Branding Guide

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Facebook’s algorithm and what it means for your athlete page

It’s been widely reported that Facebook has been slashing organic reach and will continue to do so in its quest to provide valuable real news to users feeds.

In other words, your posts will not be seen by all of your ‘fans’ who ‘liked’ your page. The word on the streets is that no less than 100,000 indicators enter into account when it comes to the algorithm analyzing which one of the 1,293 people who ‘like’ your page should see your latest race report.

Injustice? Not really. It was bound to happen as more and more content is being thrown at your feed. As a user, you should be thankful for the algorithm as it keeps your feed relevant. As an athlete trying to reach your audience, it’s a different story.

Here are a couple things that come into action with Facebook’s algorithm:

  • How popular were your previous posts based on likes, comments, shares and clicks

  • How popular is the post with everyone who has already seen it

  • How popular have your past posts been with this particular viewer

  • Does the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with this viewer in the past

  • How recently was the post published

  • [ insert 99,995 other indicators here ]

There’s a way to go around it: paid reach.

But before you take out your credit card, there’s one thing to keep in mind…

When promoting your Facebook page you’re effectively competing for the same user’s attention span as the billion dollar companies (Nike, Coca-Cola, BMW), celebrities (Vin Diesel, Rihanna, Lady Gaga), viral publishers (BuzzFeed, Mashable, Upworthy), other higher profile athlete (Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal) along with their social media managers and their big advertising budgets.

You’ll be outspent no matter what. So how can you optimize the visibility of your updates without going bankrupt?

Here are some a couple ways to do it:

Quality over quantity

This goes in your favour since your fans actually care about you. Not that they don’t really give a damn about American Apparel but let’s face it, your lifestyle is significantly more inspiring than a set of coloured shirts with a snarky caption.

By posting better content that actually matters for the users rather than just posting endlessly about the colorful t-shirts you sell, you are more likely to grab the attention of those who see them in their post and drive them to give the thumbs up and then, boom. The algorithm does its job and more people will see your post (i.e. the more likes your post gets, the more it will be seen throughout your audience).

Essentially, everyone has to earn their space in News Feed. If you publish posts that are interesting enough to get likes, comments, shares, and clicks, your reach increases.

Verified Page

As silly as the little-blue-check-mark icon is, verified pages are reaching 60%-80% of their audience. That almost 10x more than what you’d get with an ‘unverified’ page.

It is not uncommon for Olympic athletes and professional athletes to get verified pages.

There is currently no process to get verified but your best bet is to find a teammate or athlete you know that has a verified page and ask how they got the little-blue-check-mark.

*Boost your post*

Yeah, yeah. I know. I just wrote above that you can’t win at this game but paying for reach can be worth it.

Paying a small amount of money to make sure as many people as possible sees your most important news is definitely a good strategy to engage your audience and grow your ‘likes’.

It’s not expensive (if you do it only once in a while). For around $5, you’ll be able to reach a couple thousands of people which is, in most cases, a large chunk of your ‘likes’. 

It can also be a great way to reach 'people who likes your page and their friends' as a way to gain new 'likes'.

If you chose to follow that route, pay close attention to the page insights to make sure the money you spent yields meaningful results.


Facebook is trying to protect the quality of the News Feed because its long-term success depends on it. If Facebook departs from what people want to see and shows more Page posts in an effort to stabilize declining reach, users will abandon it and the attention pie will shrink for everyone. If it can improve its algorithm to better detect and surface relevant content people resonate with, the pie will grow for everyone. 

Written by
Geoff Wolfer
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