What you need to know about Facebook’s ever-changing news feed
As you’re no doubt already aware, the power, potential, influence and impact of social media is immense. Not only have these all-encompassing networks revolutionised the way we communicate with friends and family, they also provide unique insights into breaking news, current affairs and even political revolutions.
But to keep up with its transformation from a social sphere to content conglomerate, one of our favourite networks has recently received notable revisions and adjustments. Facebook is altering the way we view and interact with content to become more accessible, relevant and forceful.
While this will inevitably receive plenty of feedback from everyday users, there are bound to be certain ramifications for businesses too. But in order to stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve with these prominent changes, here is everything you need to know about Facebook’s latest changes and its updated news feed algorithm.
Facebook’s updated news feed algorithm
While the appearance of Facebook’s news feed has undergone some dramatic remodelling over the years, the nature of content that you actually see is also changing. This has been a topic of much discussion among marketing circles recently and it is easy to see why.
Out of the 1,500 stories that the average Facebook user could view per day, only 20 per cent of these appear on your own news feed. This is because of Facebook’s news feed algorithm, which attempts to deliver the most relevant and appropriate content to each and every user.
Everyone is different
According to Mark Zuckerberg, this is all part of the social network’s to become the worlds “best personalised newspaper.” However, several critics and commentators believe that by making less content available to users, Facebook is forcing brands to pay for boosted and promoted posts.
Even if this is the case, there are several aspects of the latest redesign and news feed that every business should be aware of.
You may have noticed that certain videos on your news feed now play automatically. To avoid intrusion, videos play without sound until you click on them. Soon, even advertisements will start playing automatically.
If you’re brand favours visual marketing, this is certainly an interesting development and new avenue to gain exposure. But remember, only videos uploaded directly to Facebook will auto-play, so try not to link from third-party sites.
According to Social Media Examiner, a post on Facebook that includes an album or picture receives 120-180 per cent more engagement from fans compared to a standard status update. Therefore, it is no surprise that Facebook has put more emphasis on images, which now span the entire width of your news feed.
So if you’re looking to increase engagement, consider including a photo with every update you make on Facebook. They will grab the audience’s attention, provoke discussion, encourage sharing and enhance visibility.
More relevant content
This one dates back to late 2013, but is still having a big impact on what content appears on your own news feed. Essentially, Facebook is now, more than ever, aiming to compete with Twitter when it comes to the latest news and current events. As such, it is placing more emphasis on this kind of content.
On the right hand side of the news feed, you’ll see lots of trending stories with links to reputable news outlets and content publishers. Moreover, if you decide to click on a friend’s shared article or blog, related pieces of work now appear directly below that post.
You may have noticed recently that old content keeps reappearing even if you’ve already seen or read it. This is actually intentional, as Facebook doesn’t want you to miss out on social conversations and major stories involving friends.
Facebook believes that after looking or commenting on a post, users “go back and find that story again to see what their friends were saying about it, and it wouldn’t bump up in News Feed.” This could be anything from a birthday to a wedding, but for brands it is an opportunity to receive even more exposure about a product or event.
Again, this is an attempt from Facebook to show more stories about topics or subjects you may like. When a page tags another page in a post, it will show up on the news feeds of both sets of fans. Just like promoted posts or shared content, you could be stumbling across certain stories unintentionally, which are still of interest and importance.
Therefore, it might be a good idea to identify suppliers, clients and associates on Facebook. Whenever possible and appropriate, tag them in a post to take advantage of their fans too.
As Facebook endeavours to provide the best content possible, it is trying to filter out any frequently circulated content such as trending photos that have gained notoriety on other sites.
Therefore, people and pages that post popular memes and viral videos might find their content is being hidden. In an interview with AllThingsD, News feed manager Lars Backstrom said users would probably see 10 per cent less funny cat photos and 10 per cent more articles.
This is an important one for brands to remember, as it concerns what you’re saying and suggesting when posting something on Facebook. Like-baiting is when you explicitly ask fans to like, comment or share your posts, as this inevitably increases distribution and exposure.
A survey of users found that like-baiting posts were 15 per cent less relevant compared with other stories, so Facebook is concerned that alternative and better content is being drowned out. Next time you post something, let your fans decide whether they want to like, comment on or share that content.
Bottom line for brands
Although some of these aesthetic and algorithm changes won’t affect certain parts of your Facebook activity, any revision is bound to have some sort of impact.
Place an emphasis on images and videos uploaded directly to Facebook, post as much relevant content as possible, tag fellow brands and don’t pressure fans into clicking like, making comments or sharing stories. In this way your bottom line will become the envy of all your competitors!