Facebook Releases New Guidelines to Help Publishers Better Understand How the News Feed Works
Follow on from this week’s panic about Facebook’s latest News Feed test - which sees them moving Page posts to a separate News Feed - The Social Network has released a new listing of News Feed Publisher Guidelines, which aim to help publishers better understand how the News Feed algorithm works.
The overview in the video pretty much mirrors what Facebook’s news Feed chief Adam Mosseri outlined in his presentation at their F8 conference earlier this year (down to the example of ordering a meal for his wife). Still, that insight is valuable – if you’re looking to get a better understanding of how the News Feed algorithm decides what each user sees, I’d highly recommend you check out Mosseri’s full, 20-minute ‘What’s New with News Feed’ presentation.
But the video is only the precursor to the Publisher Guidelines – the notes included in the guidelines cover a range of important elements, including how the News Feed works, what Facebook audiences respond to best and a listing of important do’s and don’ts which can help improve your Facebook performance.
One of the more interesting recommendations – which Facebook also have listed in their journalist resources – is this:
“Post frequently. News Feed tries to show people the stories that will be the most meaningful to them. By posting high-quality content that doesn’t violate our guidelines and posting it frequently, you will increase the chance that our algorithms match your content to an audience that finds it meaningful. News Feed uses a variety of diversity rules to prevent people from seeing too many stories from a given publisher. That means you don’t need to worry about spamming your fans or followers provided that the content you post is new and high quality.”
This advice goes against common Facebook wisdom – most social media advisers would suggest that posting less is more effective, as you want to avoid spamming your followers’ feeds. But as explained by Facebook, their algorithm has systems in place to account for over-sharing, and it’s likely that the majority of your traffic doesn’t come to your Page at all (they see your posts in their feeds), so they wouldn’t be aware of your posting frequency.
That’s not a free-for-all invitation, or suggestion, to post ten times an hour, but it definitely may be something worth experimenting with, particularly as Page reach drops to new lows (and may drop further if their latest test gets expanded).
But that being said, as noted by Facebook:
“Don't look for a silver bullet when posting to News Feed. Publishers succeed in many different ways and with vastly different posting strategies. There's no single right time to post, number of posts or type of post that will work across all publishers. It's about creating great content you think your audience will find interesting.”
The only true rule of social media is that ‘your audience rules’. Most content advisors would warn you away from listicle, clickbait-style posts - yet plenty of businesses have been built on that very model. Most would suggest you don’t ‘go live’ and start streaming without a plan - yet Chewbacca Mom was filmed in a car park, with little, if any, planning involved (unless you believe the conspiracy theories that it was all part of a marketing stunt).
There are no definitive, prescriptive rules, what works for your audience may not work for another – the key is finding out what resonates most with your target market, and what your fans want from your business.
Facebook’s also included a section on the importance of ‘accurate, authentic content’ (in the wake of their fake news crackdown efforts) and an outline of what is and is not appropriate on their platform.
Overall, Facebook’s haven’t added a heap of new information, but the very addition of the Publisher Guidelines shows that they are looking to provide more transparency into their internal workings – which, as we noted in our recent Facebook predictions post, looks set to become a larger focus in 2018.
You can check out the full Facebook News Feed Publisher Guidelines here
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