Facebook Announces Two Updates to News Feed Algorithm

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

For many businesses, social media marketing is a never-ending battle between their content and Facebook’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm. As more content gets uploaded to Facebook, it becomes harder to show users all the posts created by everyone they are friends with or business whose page they follow. Facebook recently announced a new change that will affect which posts are chosen by the News Feed algorithm.

Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm several times to make the platform more enjoyable for users and to address issues with low-quality content. Though the changes to algorithm vary, the result for most businesses is often the same. Changes to the News Feed algorithm will lead to lower reach and engagement rates for posts published by most business pages.

The latest changes to the News Feed algorithm represent a mixed bag for businesses on Facebook. Unlike previous updates, which specifically limited the reach of business pages, the newest changes involve refinements that may help companies. One update will adjust how Facebook chooses posts from Friends to show. The second update seeks to select more relevant content for the user.

In the past, Facebook has prioritized content from friends and family over posts from business pages. To select between posts from various friends, Facebook relies on a combination of relationship and your past engagement to decide which posts you want to see. For example, the algorithm assumes you want to see posts from your parents, and that if you always like your friend’s posts, you want to see more of them.

In addition to those ranking factors, Facebook is asking users to tell them whose content they want to see the most. As Facebook explained in a post announcing the change, “Now, in addition to understanding these signals, we’ve begun surveying people on Facebook to ask them to list the friends they are closest to. We look at the patterns that emerge from the 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 — and then use these patterns to inform our algorithm. This direct feedback helps us better predict which friends people may want to hear from most.”

Another change is an adjustment to how Facebook chooses content from business pages. Facebook wants to select more relevant content for users. This algorithm update isn’t a radical departure from the past. It’s more of a refinement of the current filtering process based on new survey results.

In the same post, Facebook explained this second update by saying, “[W]e use these responses to identify signs that someone might find a link worth their time. We then combine these factors with information we have about the post, including the type of post, who it’s from and the engagement it’s received, to more accurately predict whether people are likely to find a link valuable.”

Facebook hasn’t explained what they are specifically looking for, but that’s to be expected. Keeping that information secret prevents the algorithm from being abused. And the same general advice for businesses remains true. Posting interesting content that your audience engages with will improve your reach.

Facebook says that these new algorithms won’t necessarily result in fewer posts from business pages being shown. However, social media marketers should probably expect to see some dips in reach numbers over the next month.

For more recent news about social media marketing, read this article on new restrictions for certain financial products.

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