If you thought it was tough managing Facebook Edge Rank to get your posts noticed by your fans, wait until you hear about the News Feed Algorithm. Let’s just say, things have gotten a whole lot more complicated.
There are now a billion people using Facebook every month, and 128 million use it every day in the U.S. Facebook is now using a wide variety of signals to try to ensure that users see the content they want every day.
During a recent phone call with Matt McGee of MarketingLand.com, Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, estimated that there are as many as “100,000 individual weights in the model that produces News Feed.” Yikes! The three original EdgeRank elements — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still factors in News Feed ranking, but he says, “other things are equally important.”
What are those other things?
Relationships, for one. You can label Facebook users as a “close friend” or “acquaintence.” And you can adjust settings for Pages to choose “Get Notifications” or “Receive Updates.”
If you adjust your settings, Backstrom says Facebook will take that into account when calculating the content you see in the news feed.
Facebook also takes into account the types of posts you typically click on. If you interact with a lot of photos, you’ll see more photos in the news feed. If you click on a lot of links, you’ll see more status updates with links. Backstrom says Facebook looks at the type of posts you interact with the most from each friend. So that means Facebook Page admins who continually publish one type of post are likely not having those posts seen by fans who interact with other types of posts.
I’m experimenting with this concept right now on my own Facebook page. Even though photos are supposed to get the most engagement on Facebook, I’ve had a hard time getting any images seen, let alone getting anyone to like or comment on them. The reach has been very poor for photos, compared to plain status updates. So, for most of the summer, I stopped posting many images. In fact, I omitted thumbnail images from links as well, because that also made the reach decline.
The trouble with this strategy is that my Page timeline started looking pretty boring. There were very few visual images. So, I’ve decided to start adding images – posting at least one a day, and also encouraging my fans to like, comment and share them. So far, the experiment is starting to work. I posted an infographic that had the same amount of reach as a regular status update, especially since one of my fans liked and shared it.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm also takes into account what type of device is being used to view the content. If a person has a slow internet connection, Facebook may show more text updates, for example.
Story Bumping & Last Actor
Two new changes are also affecting what you see in the News Feed. Story bumping gives older, unseen posts a second chance at News Feed visibility if they’re still getting interaction. Last Actor puts a premium on recency. Facebook tracks a user’s most recent 50 interactions, and gives them more weight when deciding what to show in the News Feed. This works on a rolling basis, so the value of an interaction will decline after the user has made 50 more recent interactions.
So what does all this mean for businesses on Facebook? First and foremost, if you want to attract new customers, you need to provide high quality content that appeals to your target audience. You then should encourage your fans to like, comment and share that content in order to extend its reach. And of course, Facebook would like you to purchase ads to attract more likes so more people see your content. But that’s a story for another day!