As part of its ongoing effort to keep people engaged, and active on Facebook for longer, The Social Network has announced two News Feed algorithm updates this week, one focused on increasing the prevalence of posts from your closest friends, and the other aimed at reducing shallow, click-bait style content in feeds.
First off, Facebook’s aiming to show users more content from the people they care about, by adding in additional feed signals based on user research.
As explained by Facebook:
“We’ve [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.”
Basically, Facebook’s now using more signals, and re-prioritising their algorithm, in order to better uncover the friends you want to hear from most.
The end result, ideally, will be that users see more of their closest friends’ content. Since the implementation of the News Feed algorithm, Facebook has been consistently criticised for hiding important updates, and failing to keep people in the loop on key events within their social circles. This change aims to help Facebook improve on this front with users seeing more posts from their closest connections.
The second announced update relates to the quality of content in News Feeds, and demoting posts and links which users have said are not ‘worth their time’.
Last month, Facebook published an update on the efforts it’s making to improve the quality of the News Feed, and the relevance of the content people are shown on the platform. Part of that process involves user surveys, with Facebook asking its audience to note which updates they find most relevant and helpful.
“The answers will help us understand who wants to see more, or less, of different types of content.”
The key point here is ‘less’ – Facebook can use this insight to determine not only what’s more relevant, but to reduce the reach of less engaging, less fulfilling link posts. Which is what this new update is all about.
“Based on these surveys, we’re updating News Feed to show people links we predict they will find worthwhile.”
It’s similar to how Facebook has sought to weed out clickbait and quizzes in the past – users may be enticed to click on these posts, but ultimately, they find them less engaging, and less satisfying overall. With clicks being a key News Feed signal, the algorithm would previously help boost these posts further, based on engagement, but this qualifer will see the system take into account the types of content that users have said are ultimately not engaging, despite those initial clicks.
For Pages, it underlines the importance of avoiding clickbait and ensuring that you publish relevant, valuable content, with titles that match what’s on offer in your related links.
As with all of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm tweaks, there will be reach impacts, and it’s important to note the changes and to monitor any significant shifts in your analytics. Again, the Pages most likely to be impacted will be those posting light, shallow content – which, hopefully, doesn’t apply to your business. But if you do see and significant reach dips, it may be worth re-assessing your approach.