After announcing a News Feed algorithm update earlier this month, which focused on boosting content from the people you care most about, and reducing the reach of clickbait, Facebook has now issued an amendment to that update to also add in new ranking signals for content from the Pages and Groups that people are most interested in.
As per the original update, Facebook explained how it regularly utilizes user surveys to garner feedback about the effectiveness of its feed algorithm, and to help guide its focus for improvement:
"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."
In the new amendment, Facebook says that it recently issued two additional surveys focused on Page and Group content, and what people want to see more, or less, of:
"We know that friends are not the only reason people come to Facebook. Many people come to see the latest from the Pages they follow and the groups they are a part of. In addition to surveying people asking them which friends they were closest to, we started two additional surveys asking people 1) how interested they are in content from a specific Page they follow, and 2) how important a specific group they’ve joined is to them."
Based on the responses it's received, Facebook says that it has updated the News Feed algorithm to "prioritize the Pages and groups we predict an individual may care about most".
"Some of the indicators of how meaningful a Page or group is might include how long someone has followed a Page or been a part of a group; how often someone engages with a Page or group; and how often a Page or group posts."
What, exactly, that means - and how Page managers can use it to advantage - is unclear. There's obviously little that Page managers can do now about the time that people have been following their Page, and engagement has always been a factor in boosting Page reach. But that last point raises a question about whether it's better to post more or less.
Does Facebook mean that it will show more Page content to those interested if a Page posts more, or is it a balance thing - if a Page posts every hour, the algorithm won't overwhelm people with its updates?
You'd suspect the latter is the case - but Facebook has also previously advised Pages to:
"Post frequently - Don't worry about over-posting. The goal of News Feed is to show each person the most relevant story so not all of your posts are guaranteed to show in their Feeds."
Maybe, that's the way to go, to lean more towards more posts. Not to the point of posting every 15 minutes or something extreme, but upping your frequency could ensure that the algorithm has content to choose from to show to those users who it has pegged as being interested in your Page updates.
Groups have been a big focus for Facebook of late, so its little surprise to see them looking to find new ways to maximize the benefits of group discussion with this amendment, but a potential reach boost for Pages could be a welcome change of pace for businesses which have gotten used to seeing their Facebook referral traffic steadily decline over the years.
But then again, within the update, Facebook does say that the impact will be minimal.
"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 feeds]. Rather, they will prioritize content from the Pages and groups we think you care about most so that you see them higher in News Feed."
I mean, even that is good - getting more visibility for your Page posts can only help, though I wouldn't expect to see your Insights charts change significantly as a result.
Either way, it's an interesting amendment to Facebook's latest News Feed tweak, which may help generate more exposure for Page and group posts.