The Facebook News Feed team announced a few changes to the News Feed algorithm yesterday that they are hoping will help increase user engagement with Page posts and status updates.
At the event, Facebook’s Lars Backstrom reported that they are hoping to give users an experience that goes beyond the real-time updating that Twitter provides. By constantly working on the algorithm, Facebook is hoping that they can provide a News Feed experience that is customized for each user, giving them the posts they want to see each time they log onto Facebook.
Building the Best Possible News Feed For Users
Facebook reports that when a user logs into Facebook, there are approximately 1500 posts they can view on any given day. The Facebook News Feed Algorithm takes these 1500 pieces of content and decides 300 of which will be shown to the user.
To choose which posts are best for users, their activity as well as their liked Page activity is taken into consideration, including how frequently a user interacts with a Page’s content and how popular a certain Page’s posts are. For example, if a Page’s post generates 300 comments, likes, and shares, it will likely be more interesting to a user than a post that only has 10 likes.
New Facebook Algorithm Updates
One of the most important updates that was mentioned in yesterday’s press event (and on Facebook News) was an algorithm feature called “story bumping.” Heralded by Facebook as “a better way to surface older stories”, the algorithm tracks when users didn’t scroll down far enough in their news feed to read certain posts, and reposts them at the top of the feed when a user logs back in.
For instance, if my friend’s tagged baby shower photos from our local photographer’s business Page were below the fold and I only read my first 5 News Feed stories before logging out, then when I log in later that night, the photos may appear again near the top of my News Feed, to make sure I saw them.
Marketing Impact to Engagement
These changes to the algorithm when tested with a small number of users resulted in a 5% increase in engagement (likes, comments, and shares) from organic Page stories. Additionally, Facebook reports that before the update, users saw 57% of their news feed stories before logging out or leaving the homepage. After the update, they now see 70%.
According to Facebook, this means more visibility for Page posts. Backstrom states: “For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they’re more than a few hours old.” However, it is important to note Backstrom reminded advertisers that these changes are only for organic posts, not sponsored posts: “…This change does not impact how paid content appears in News Feeds.”
Even though Facebook employees don’t use the term “EdgeRank” anymore to describe the News Feed algorithm, marketers are still using it when crafting organic and promoted posts to increase Facebook News Feed exposure. As the Facebook algorithm continues to be refined, marketers should focus on providing high-quality posts that will engage their users, thus increasing their chances for more News Feed impressions.