Facebook has been pretty busy these past few months - Graph Search was rolled out to a wider user base, then the insights module received a much-needed facelift. And now it seems Facebook has set its gaze on its News Feed. On August 6th Facebook announced on its Facebook for Business page that a few key changes would be made to the News Feed, and confirmed some interesting details on how the News Feed chooses the stories it features. But they were less clear as to how, exactly, this might impact businesses and brands. From what I can see, there are three important parts to this announcement that businesses (and Facebook users in general) can take away from and implement in future status updates to come.
Organic stories can get a second chance.
The only actual update they announced in this post was a second-chance system for organic stories. Essentially, if your story made it to a user's news feed but they didn't scroll down far enough to see it, it could be sent to the top of the news feed if other users are engaging with that story. Now more than ever, likes and comments are extremely important and will significantly impact your metrics. According to Facebook the average user only reads 53% of stories in their feeds - with this update, the number of stories seen jumps to 70%. So now your most popular stories will be seen by even more users, even if that story is a few hours old.
CONSTANT engagement is still best.
One of the most mind-boggling statistics that Facebook revealed in this announcement is that every time a user logs into their Facebook, there is on average 1,500 stories that can be used to populate their news feed, but only 300 are chosen by Facebook's algorithm. They also gave a bit of insight into how that algorithm chooses stories - along with featuring posts from pages or friends that a user interacts with consistently, it also considers the response of that user's friends and the world at large to a page's past and present stories. The more people engage with your posts, the more likely your status updates will appear in your follower's feeds. This isn't entirely new information, but it does show that brands and businesses need to be posting the kind of content that followers consistently interact with, rather than a picture of a cat followed by four identical posts plugging the business's blog.
They want to keep us in the loop.
We've known about EdgeRank since 2010 when two Facebook engineers gave the f8 developer conference a walkthrough on how Facebook decides what to feature in a user's news feed, but Facebook has been extraordinarily tight-lipped on any real details related to their feed's algorithm. They even admitted in their post that they hadn't done a great job informing users of what, exactly, they update when they tinker with the news feed algorithm. This announcement is supposed to be the first of many, and the series is meant to give business users a better understanding of how to optimize for Facebook's algorithm. This is huge because, for the most part, we were just feeling through the dark and trying to figure out what worked. That sort of trial and error method takes a lot of time, and these announcements will certainly help us stay on top of our Facebook campaigns.
Facebook's News Feed is turning seven next month, and yet despite its age, it is still largely misunderstood. Hopefully these announcements will help uncover some of its secrets. Updates are supposed to be posted in Facebook for Business's News blog, so keep an eye out for those. The entire idea behind this campaign is to improve the News Feed and getting better posts out of brands and businesses seem to be a major part of that initiative. Thankfully, that means we get to learn a bit more about Facebook's algorithm.