More on Facebook’s Enhanced News Feed Algorithm
In May of this year, Facebook announced a News Feed algorithm update which emphasized the reduction of clickbait reach as well as the ability to boost content from those people who are highest on your priority list. This News Feed algorithm update has recently been amended to include additional ranking signals on content for the Groups and the Pages which people have the greatest interest in.
The goal with Facebook’s News Feed is to display stories from all walks of life which matter the most to its users, every time people log onto the platform to retrieve information of any kind. The News Feed for any individual is personalized, and includes a wide variety of videos, images, links, and updates from all those news sources which an individual has previously connected to on the platform. Additionally, there will be content posted from friends, family, and businesses, and the whole point of the News Feed in general is to allow Facebook users to keep in touch with all those individuals and businesses which have importance to them.
What’s included in the update
When the original update was issued in May, Facebook explained to its vast user audience that it makes regular use of surveys so that feedback can be obtained about how effective its News Feed algorithm is, and also to help guide its future enhancements and improvements. At that time, Facebook officials released the following statement, “We have recently begun surveying people on Facebook to ask them to list the friends they are closest to. We look at the patterns that emerge from these results, some of which include being tagged in the same photos, continuously reacting and commenting on the same posts, and checking in at the same places. We then use these patterns to inform our algorithm.”
In the current update to that release, Facebook has announced that two surveys were recently issued regarding the Page content and the Group content, so as to determine the type of material that people prefer to see more of. Facebook acknowledged that they have a clear understanding that people make use of its platform for more than just communicating with friends. In fact, a huge part of Facebook usage stems from the fact that people use the platform to check out the Pages which they like to follow, as well as any developments within the Groups which they belong to.
The focus of the surveys issued on these two areas specifically emphasized finding out the level of interest that users have in content from any individual Page which they regularly follow, as well as how important each of the Groups are to individuals who belong to those Groups. Based on responses received to these two surveys, Facebook has now updated its News Feed algorithm so as to give additional priority to the Groups and Pages which users care most about, and which are used most frequently by Facebook followers.
Indicators of interest
Facebook considers indicators of interest in Pages or Groups to include several factors, such as the length of time that anyone has been a follower of a specific Page, or has been a member of any specific Group. Another factor in this determination is the degree of engagement with any specific Page or Group, as determined by how frequently a page is consulted, or how frequently a Group is posted to.
While this interpretation is open to debate, there really isn’t much that Page managers can do anyway about the length of time that any specific user follows a Page, nor can a manager do much about engagement of users with a specific Page. It is unclear whether Facebook’s intent is to deliver more Page content if users show greater interest in more frequent Page posts, or whether some kind of balance will be implemented to avoid the possibility of very frequent Page posts overwhelming users.
In the past, Facebook has urged users to post frequently and not worry about submitting excessive posts, since it claims that the goal of News Feed is to show everyone those stories which are most relevant to them, which means that not all posts will make it to the News Feed anyway.
Is more posting the way to go?
It seems that Facebook is encouraging the submission of more posts, and increasing the frequency of those posts so as to guarantee that the changes to the News Feed algorithm will allow it to choose from the increased number of posts to satisfy its users. This doesn’t mean that posting needs to occur every half hour or so, but it seems that by increasing the number of posts, that Facebook will have greater variety to choose from to display to those users who have demonstrated interest in a specific Page’s posts and updates.
There is no doubt that a big area of emphasis lately by Facebook has been in its Groups, so it’s not at all surprising to see the platform seeking ways to increase the benefits of Group discussion and Group engagement. A huge boost in the reach for Pages could also be a huge advantage for businesses which have grown accustomed to seeing their Facebook referral traffic slowly decrease in recent years.
According to Facebook, the overall impact of the update to this News Feed algorithm should be relatively minor. “Similar to the close friends update we announced earlier this month, these specific changes will not result in an increase of Page or Group content in people’s News Feeds. Rather, they will prioritize content from the Pages and Groups we think you care about most, so that you see them higher in your News Feed.”
Achieving greater visibility for Page posts can only be considered a positive development and a big help to Page managers and followers of those Pages. However, it seems unlikely that Insights charts will undergo any kind of dramatic change as a result of the updates to the News Feed algorithm. Regardless of all this, it is at the very least, an interesting update to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, and whatever the impact it has on Facebook users, it should only be a positive one.