Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm History
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is in a constant state of flux. In the below timeline, we mark the major changes both marketers and businesses need to be aware of. With Facebook’s 1.98 billion monthly active users, it continues to be critical for businesses to have a presence on the platform.
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Facebook Increases “NEQ” Focus to Demote
After employees presented Mark Zuckerberg with statistics showing the widespread reach of viral, Election-related misinformation, the company increased a focus on “news ecosystem quality” scores, or NEQ. These internal ranking scores weigh the credibility and quality of news publishers and their reporting. The emphasized focus on NEQ should help ensure that authoritative and substantiated news stories are displayed more prominently in the News Feed. Many employees are advocating for the algorithm change to become permanent, but as of now, it is only a temporary adjustment.
Original Reporting in News Stories to Get Priority
Facebook has long received criticism for how news-related stories are elevated in the News Feed, oftentimes favoring hyper-partisan sources. This update seeks to give original reporting a boost in the News Feed algorithm while also demoting news stories that have no clearly defined author or editorial staff. This change to the algorithm will utilize artificial intelligence to analyze groups of articles on a given news story to identify which is cited most often as the original source. The update should only have an effect on news publications in an effort to minimize the wide distribution of misinformation.
Minimized Text Display & Aspect Ratios
on Mobile News Feed
Beginning in August, Facebook’s mobile News Feed will look a little different. The update, affecting Page posts and ads, will only show three lines of text for a given post before the “See More” option appears. The change will also minimize the aspect ratio for any attached media in the post — photos and videos will now be presented in a 4:5 aspect ratio. The reduced content view in the mobile News Feed should allow Pages the opportunity to squeeze in more ads into users’ feeds.
News Feed to Downrank Misleading Health Info
and Dangerous “Cures”
In a new update, Facebook will begin downranking posts that contain misleading health information or dangerous, sensational “cures.” This update will also affect posts that promote or sell a product with health-related claims, such as a weight-loss pill. There have been recent DIY “cures” that have been known to be fatal (think drinking bleach) that have been banned on sites like Amazon and YouTube, yet Facebook only plans to minimize the spread of such information. Though it claims to downrank personal posts in addition to posts from Pages, it’s unclear how effective and widespread this update will be. Some MLMs require their sellers to post about products and health information from their own profiles with high engagement from other sellers, thus fooling the algorithm into thinking that content is high quality and deserves distribution. Time will tell what kind of changes will actually take place.
Quality & Original Videos to Receive More Distribution
Facebook wants to reward video creators who produce quality content for viewers. Over the coming months, many updates will be implemented to distribute more original videos that engage viewers beyond the one-minute mark, particularly videos longer than 3 minutes. Videos that receive repeat viewings will also see a boost in News Feed distribution. Conversely, videos that do not offer much originality or value will see demoted distribution as well as videos and Pages that promote sharing schemes.
News Feed Will Highlight Worthwhile &
Close Friend Content
Yet another algorithm update to make your News Feed filled with quality and worthwhile content. Based on recent surveys, Facebook now has key signals it can use to determine which of your friends you interact and engage with the most, who you’re spending time with via tagged photos and check-ins, and more. This same update will also promote links to content in which you have indicated you are most interested, based on previous engagement. This update will likely hurt Pages that rely on click-bait links and spammy posts.
Facebook Introduces “Click-Gap” to Combat Fake News
In an effort to battle Facebook’s image as the proponent of misinformation and fake news on the internet, the social media giant has introduced a new metric known as “Click-Gap” that will analyze sites and posts that generate many clicks and links on Facebook compared to the internet as a whole. If a post seems to only be popular on Facebook and nowhere else online, then its reach will be limited in the News Feed. This update will hurt sites whose content’s sole purpose is to go viral on Facebook. The update should limit the amount of propaganda and misinformation spread across the platform.
“Borderline” Content to Receive Less Distribution
In a statement from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will be demoting content that comes close, or “borderline,” to the policy line of prohibited content. For example, a post that may contain offensive speech but does not fall under hate speech will be demoted in distribution. Same goes for sexually suggestive images or ones that may tease nudity without fully showing it. This change should also affect posts that are spreading or promoting misinformation, including across the political spectrum. Though this change is currently in effect, it is only seen by a limited number of users, pages, and groups. Expect to see it become more widespread in the near future.
News Feed Demotes Sites with Stolen
or Scraped Content
Facebook revealed to TechCrunch that it will begin demoting links to trashy news sites that scrape other sites’ contents with little-to-no modification of their own. These types of sites usually publish existing news content from more reputable sites and then surround that content with a bunch of ads. Users can expect to see these types of links less and less in their News Feeds. Facebook is hoping that a decrease in traffic to these sites, scammers will be less inclined to continue these practices.
3D Photos Coming to Your News Feed
Little is known about this update or how, exactly, it will work, but users can expect to see and share 3D photos in their status updates over the next few months. Facebook is already compatible with 360-degree photos, so this new feature shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Facebook is hoping that this update will create a more immersive experience for its users and the content they share within the news feed.
Local News to Receive Higher Prioritization
Recent updates this month greatly affected everyone’s News Feed, with the most recent update putting a focus on broadly trusted news sources. This latest update builds on that with higher priority falling on local news. If you follow a local news Publisher or if a friend shares a local news story, you may see that post higher on your News Feed. Users not only want to stay in touch with family and friends, but they also want to stay informed on what’s happening within their local communities.
News to Only Come from Trusted Sources
Following this month’s earlier update that aimed to create more meaningful experiences on the News Feed, this new update seeks to provide news stories in your timeline that only come from trusted sources. Facebook surveyed users to determine which news outlets are most respected and trusted. Tests for this update begin rolling out the last week of January and will continue throughout the year. Pages who have been deemed trustworthy from these surveys may see an increase in distribution, while Pages that were not voted as trustworthy will likely see a drop in distribution and audience reach.
Facebook to Emphasize Meaningful Interactions
In this newest update, Publishers and marketers may find themselves rethinking their social strategy or scale it back altogether. Mark Zuckerberg stated, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” His statement coincides with this new update that will diminish posts from brands, publishers, marketers, and news stories. Facebook is concerned about providing a quality experience that will promote a user’s well-being. Their studies have shown that genuine interactions between friends is what promotes a strong well-being. Publishers and marketers should look to create posts that will generate back-and-forth discussion among Facebook users, such as Oprah’s recent speech at the Golden Globes or local events that may excite a community.
“Engagement Bait” Posts Demoted in News Feed
Facebook has received many complaints from users about the amount of spam-related posts that incentivize or promote engagement through their posts. For example, asking users to vote using reactions or comment, tag, share, or otherwise engage with the post. Pages and businesses who use these “engagement bait” tactics can expect to see a significant drop in their reach. Facebook made it clear that posts that are authentic, such as asking for advice, promoting awareness of a missing child, or raising money for a good cause, will not be affected by this update.
New 3D Posts Allow User Interaction
Using Facebook’s Oculus Medium sculpting platform or Facebook Spaces VR hangouts, users can create 3D digital objects, and with this latest update, share them to the News Feed. Once a 3D post has been created and shared to the News Feed, other users can interact with the 3D image by looking at it from all angles, zooming, and even engagement with items such as doors. Facebook also has plans to grant third-party VR developers the option for their users to share their work to the News Feed. Facebook hopes this is the first step in sharing a new type of content that will continue to evolve.
Trending News Rolling Out on Mobile
Making good on the promised redesign of Trending Topics earlier this year, Facebook is rolling out Trending News with its own navigational link in the mobile app’s main navigation. The Trending News section will feature a list of news topics with an image, headline, the major news outlet reporting it, and the number of sources available on the topic. The navigation link is now available on iOS and is currently testing on Android. Facebook is also testing space that features the top 3 trending news stories within the News Feed itself.
Faster Loading Web pages to Get Priority in News Feed
Following Google’s lead in ranking sites, Facebook will now prioritize websites with faster loading times in the News Feed. Users have expressed frustration after clicking on a link in Facebook only to find themselves waiting for a site or page to properly load. Studies show that as many as 40% of users abandon the website after a three-second delay. Companies, businesses, and content sites would be wise to invest in faster loading pages on their sites. Not only will Google penalize slow sites, but now Facebook will as well.
New “Explore Feed” Added to Menu Navigation
Facebook has been quietly and slowly testing a new feature known as “Explore Feed,” one that will help users discover content outside of the friends and Pages they already follow. This feature is being slowly rolled out, so it may not yet be available for all users, but it’s coming. The “Explore Feed” can be found in the menu navigation (which includes Weather, Sports, Find Wi-Fi, and more). Facebook intends to keep users on site or in the app when looking for content, instead of turning to Google or other apps. Content found in “Explore Feed” is similar to the content from your friends and followed Pages. This feature is still considered a test, but its placement in the menu suggests a broader rollout in the near future.
Overshared, Sketchy Links to Be Demoted
Facebook is now after spammers, those who publish multiple posts a day, often sharing sketchy links to clickbaity-type sites. While Facebook won’t suspend an account for sharing 50+ false or clickbaity news articles in a day, it will begin demoting these posts so that this type of content becomes buried in a user’s News Feed. Facebook defines these spammy links as ones that “tend to include low quality content such as clickbait, sensationalism, and misinformation.” As for Pages, only those who rely on these spammers for traffic will see a drop in visibility and engagement.
Links to Low-Quality Sites to Be Diminished in News Feed
In a new update rolling out over the next few months, Facebook has announced that it will bury links to low-quality sites that come from posts or even Facebook ads. Facebook defines a low-quality site as one “containing little substantive content, and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.” It’s possible that high-quality sites may benefit from this update with a potential increase in referral traffic. This update stems from user complaints that content in the News Feed often points them to spammy or misleading sites.
Facebook Tests Subscribed Topics in News Feed
With this new test, some users will be able to subscribe to Topics they may be interested in. In the News Feed, users may see a carousel of topics they can subscribe to. By subscribing to a Topic, the user will be exposed to more Pages and posts than those they ordinarily follow and interact with. Facebook intends to gauge whether this update helps users engage with posts they are interested in while also being exposed to new ideas counter to their own beliefs, interests, or politics. Should the test prove to confuse or annoy users, however, it’s very possible this update never reaches all Facebook users.
Facebook Stories Now Available in Mobile App
In the effort to duplicate Snapchat’s success, Facebook has now brought Stories to the main Facebook app. With this latest app update, users will now see circular icons with their friends’ profile pictures at the top of the News Feed. These icons represent recent “stories” that friends have published, which may contain images, video, drawings, and special camera effects. After 24 hours, these stories will disappear and be replaced with new ones. With Facebook Stories, users can become more visual in how they choose to share their activities and personality with their friends. The inclusion of Stories essentially creates a second News Feed within the app.
Seasonal Greetings Atop the News Feed
Beginning March 20, Facebook will place an animated seasonal greeting to mark the change in seasons. Depending on where you live in the world, this animated greeting will reflect the current season, spring or fall. If the user clicks on the animation, a Facebook post will appear in which the user can share their feelings about the change in seasons. Facebook has noticed a drop in personal posts, and this new feature is meant to help encourage users to share posts with their friends and followers. Currently, the animated seasonal greeting can only be viewed on mobile devices.
News Feed to Weigh “Reactions” More Than “Likes”
It has been one year since Facebook introduced Reactions for increased user engagement, and over the past year Facebook has learned that any Reaction left on a post is a strong indicator that the user was more interested in that post than any other “liked” posts. Currently, any Reaction is weighed the same as a Like; however, Facebook is revamping the News Feed to weigh Reactions more than Likes. If a user selects a Reaction on a post, even an “Angry” Reaction, Facebook will begin showing similar stories in the News Feed. If you wish to see fewer posts of a certain variety, then it’s best to do nothing; don’t Like or React to that post. For marketers, you’ll want to create posts that elicit a Reaction over a Like.
News Feed Videos Will Play with Sound On by Default
After running a series of tests, Facebook discovered that many users responded positively to having videos play with sound automatically within the News Feed. This features will only occur if your phone has its sound on. If your phone is set to “Silent” or “Vibrate,” then you will still need to manually activate the sound on the video. Other changes that come with this update include vertical videos automatically expanding to full screen, as well as having a video continue playing down in the bottom of the screen while the user continues to scroll through the News Feed.
Video Prioritized in News Feed Based on Completion Rate
In an effort to improve the prioritization of video in the News Feed, Facebook will now be analyzing the “percent completion” rate for every video the user watches. If the user watches all or most of a video, then Facebook will prioritize similar videos in the user’s future News Feed. This is a benefit for Pages that produce longer videos that captivate their audience. A longer, more engaging video may see a boost in News Feed prioritization if the user watches most of that video. Videos, both long and short, that do not have high completion rates will likely see a dip in distribution and prioritization.
Facebook Adds “Stories” to News Feed
Snapchat has changed how people share their lives on social media. Instagram has already cloned Snapchat’s story feature, and now its parent company, Facebook, is looking to do the same. Facebook Stories will now launch in Ireland on iOS and Android and looks to hit other international markets in the coming months. The “Stories” feature allows users to share photos and video that disappear from the News Feed 24 hours later.
Share “Moments” at Top of News Feed
Facebook will begin placing messages at the top of the News Feed to encourage user engagement, such as sharing a holiday-themed card with friends and followers. This update has already been seen in the past but will become more prevalent in the future. These messages and cards may promote a holiday, a historical or cultural event, or even the change of seasons. Time will tell if this new feature will become a marketing tool for brands and advertisers, but as of now, advertisers cannot sponsor these messages.
Facebook Adds Color Backgrounds to Text-Only Posts
Facebook announced that it will roll out a new update that will allow some mobile users to add a colored background to their text-only status updates and posts. The update is only available for use on Android devices; however, all mobile users (including iOS users) will be able to see the colored backgrounds when they are posted. With this update, many text-only posts will be as eye-catching as photos.
Facebook Bans Fake News Sites from Using Ads
Following Google’s lead, Facebook announced that fake news sites will now be banned from using the platform’s Audience Network ads. Facebook recently came under fire with users perpetuating fake news stories regarding this year’s presidential candidates, so this update is a step towards diminishing these fake news publishers’ ability to advertise their posts. While this will not completely eliminate fake stories from the News Feed, it does mean users will see fewer ads promoting stories from fake news sites.
News Feed Improves with Slow Connections
In Facebook’s ongoing effort to reach that “next billion users,” News Feed will now display pre-cached stories as well as new stories straight from Facebook’s servers for users with slow network connections. This update will not only help improve the user’s experience in areas where network connection may be sparse, but it will also incentivize users who live in such areas to sign up for, and more regularly use, Facebook.
News Feed to Predict & Highlight Informative Posts
This latest update is a small change to the algorithm after Facebook surveyed many users. Based on this survey, Facebook will now predict which posts a user may find “informative” and prioritize said posts in the user’s News Feed. “Informative” could relate to a variety of posts based on the user’s likes and engagement with other posts, in addition to the results found in this recent survey. For one user, this could mean more posts that are news-related or that feature recipes. For others, it could be news about a favorite celebrity or a movie review. Facebook does not anticipate much change in post distribution from Pages, though some could see slight increases or decreases in referral traffic.
News Feed to Show Fewer Clickbait Headlines
Facebook receives thousands of complaints everyday regarding “clickbait” links and headlines. Previous changes in the News Feed algorithm have attempted to reduce the number of clickbait posts that appear on users’ News Feeds. This newest update allows Facebook to recognize and classify clickbait-like headlines, much like a spam filter in email. This system update will also help Facebook identify Pages and accounts that regularly post clickbait links and headlines, reducing their rankings in the News Feed.
Algorithm Prioritizes Friends, Family, & Other Core Values
The secret behind Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has been guessed at for years, with published algorithm updates that help support the various theories out there. However, Facebook recently opened the curtain on the “core values” it uses when determining what shows up in a user’s feed. Facebook became known as the social platform to connect friends and family, which is why most of the News Feed is filled with posts from those users care about most. Now, Facebook states that posts from friends and family will get top priority on users’ News Feeds. After posts from friends and family, Facebook prioritizes posts that “inform” and posts that “entertain.” Other core values include posts that represent all ideas and posts with “authentic communication.” Facebook also emphasized the user’s ability to hide posts, unfollow other users and Pages, and the user’s ability to prioritize their own feed with the “See First” function. Lastly, Facebook reiterated the goal to always improve the News Feed and user experience.
Facebook to Fight Clickbait Links
Facebook has been known to be filled with clickbait links to articles and websites, but thanks to Facebook’s intent to improve the type of content being shared on its platform, this may slowly come to an end. There are sites out there who only care about clicks on their links, even if it the user leaves the page immediately after clicking the link. Now, Facebook will measure how much time you spend on a shared link, whether it’s an Instant Article or on another site. This should begin to filter out clickbait links that don’t actually provide useful content. In addition, Facebook is also looking to penalize Pages that post too often. This will be useful for marketers when creating their Facebook posting strategies.
News Feed to Highlight Links You’re Actually Interested In
Yet another update to the News Feed that’ll change the prioritization of what you see at the top of your News Feed. Interacting with a post (liking, commenting, or sharing) is a good indicator for what users are interested in; however, it is not the only way of gauging interest. Users are less likely to interact with a sad news-related post or a serious current event, but that does not mean they do not want these stories in their News Feeds. Facebook will now measure the potential interest in a post based on the following criteria: user interest in the creator, post performance among other users, past content performance of the creator, type of post the user prefers, and how recent the post is. When you click on a post or link, Facebook will measure how much time you spend on post, even if you don’t like, comment, or share. This will help Facebook in its algorithm when predicting and prioritizing which posts you are most interested in.
Facebook Prioritizes Live Videos In News Feed
Facebook has been paying attention to how much longer users watch live streaming videos in their News Feeds, and it turns out live videos are viewed 3x longer than a previously recorded and uploaded video. Based on this information, Facebook will begin prioritizing live video in users’ News Feeds. Facebook previously prioritized stories that it deemed “best,” not necessarily the most current. This live video update changes that. This update helps Facebook keep up with Twitter’s real-time posts, including Periscope videos.
High Ranking Posts and Engagement Probability
This update proves that Facebook is continually listening to its users and attempting to improve the user experience by prioritizing and improving News Feed. With this latest update, Facebook will gauge the likelihood that users will highly rate a post or the probability that users will interact with a post by liking, commenting, or sharing. These posts will then be placed at the top of the user’s News Feed. These two criteria were discovered after Facebook conducted an extensive survey in which users indicated what they prefer to see at the top of their News Feeds. The update should have little impact on Pages; however, some Pages may notice a slight increase in referral traffic while other Pages may experience a decrease in referral traffic. How this update affects the majority of Pages in the long run will be better measured over time.
Organic Audience Optimization
Historically, publishers on Facebook struggled to organically reach their target audience, mostly due to Facebook’s algorithm. Known as the Audience Optimization tool, this new update allows publishers to set preferences to target a specific audience based on interests, demographics, and geographic location. Using this new tool, publishers and marketers on Facebook can organically reach their intended audience and then see how well their posts perform.
Real-Time News Search Expanded
In an effort to rival Google and Twitter with trending news stories, you can now search any news story through Facebook and access a variety of search results, including posts from other users not on your Friends lists and Pages that you haven’t liked. The search results will pull information from Facebook’s 2 trillion posts. This update will likely encourage users to post more frequently about human and world events, much like on Twitter.
Facebook Improves News Feed for Slower Connections
In many parts of the world, mobile users still use a 2G connection for their internet use. In the attempt to reach millions more users worldwide, Facebook is improving the News Feed load time for mobile users with a slower connection. If your connection is extremely weak, Facebook will bring up your previously loaded News Feed or cached stories. With a limited connection, Facebook will now focus on stories and posts you’re actively looking at, as opposed to simultaneously loading multiple
How “See First” Affects Pages
When Facebook updated its News Feed Preferences with See First, they claimed the update would have little impact on marketers, which may not be entirely true. If Pages can somehow be selected in a user’s See First preferences, then there’s enormous potential for increased sales, site traffic and activity, and brand awareness. However, for mid-level Pages who employ paid ad campaigns in the quest for more Likes, there may be some damage. The value of a Like for Pages may be diminishing, especially if those Pages are not frequently prioritized in users’ See First. Marketers will most likely need to revamp their strategies in order to make it into more users’ See First preferences.
Facebook Updates User Preferences on See First
Facebook is keenly aware that their News Feed algorithm isn’t perfect. In an attempt to give users more control over who appears atop their News Feeds, Facebook has updated its settings, allowing the user to select who they’d prefer to “See First.” This new setting, found under News Feed Preferences, is broken up into four sections: Prioritize Who to See First, Unfollow People to Hide Their Posts, Reconnect with People You Unfollowed, and Discover New Pages. These new sections allow the user to easily select who should and should not get priority in their News Feed.
Expanded Criteria for Video Rankings
Over the next few weeks, Facebook will roll out this new update that will account for videos being viewed with audio or in full-screen mode. After a recent survey, Facebook learned that many users will find a video of interest without liking, commenting, or sharing with their friends. Therefore, Facebook will monitor other forms of video engagement, such as turning on the audio or switching to full-screen. There is no indication that Pages will “see significant changes in distribution as a result of this update.” Also, this update does not mean that users will see more videos in their News Feed, only those who already engage more with video-related content.
Prioritize News Feed with See First
Facebook is continually working to improve its News Feed, allowing the user more control over the types of posts that appear at the top. Until now, Facebook has only granted options for users to filter out posts they do not want to see. With the introduction of See First, users can now choose which accounts, whether friends or followed Pages, they wish to see first at the top of their News Feeds. Once on the account’s page, the user can select “See First” under the Following button. The account that you follow will not be notified if the user has selected them for See First. This update is yet another example of Facebook listening to its users and their desires to have more control over the types of posts they see.
Buy Button for Shopify Merchants
Facebook announced that it will be attaching a Buy Button to merchants who utilize Shopify’s ecommerce platform. This means that users will be able to purchase an item directly from the Facebook News Feed without having to open a different app or webpage. Those who run their ecommerce through Shopify will have the option of sharing their merchandise organically through their Facebook Pages or through a paid ad campaign. The inclusion of a Buy Button should entice Shopify merchants with a quick and simple way for their customers to buy a product within Facebook. Users can pay using the same payment method already filed with Facebook or they can enter their payment information during checkout. The Buy Button now places Facebook in competition with Pinterest and Google who are already offering similar features for their pins and ads, respectively.
Time Spent on Story
Historically, Facebook has formatted users’ News Feeds based on the likes, comments, and shares of others. However, Facebook recently learned through a study that many users would like to see current news stories that may not necessarily receive likes, comments, or shares from the users’ friends. Now, Facebook will also be monitoring how much time is spent viewing certain stories. Though time spent on a story can have various factors (internet speed, length of post, etc.), Facebook will gauge how much time you spend on story compared to other stories you view within your News Feed. If you spend more time on a particular story or post, then Facebook will likely show this story on your friends’ News Feeds.
Support for GIFs
Facebook has officially confirmed that the News Feed will now support GIFs. Originally, Facebook made a strong effort to avoid GIF support as they felt it would clutter the News Feed page. Now, users can paste a GIF link from external sites (Giphy, Imgur, Tumblr, and others) in their post, and Facebook will animate the GIF once the post has been published in the News Feed. GIFs will automatically play in the News Feed according to your current video playback settings. Though this announcement was made near the end of May, the update will not be immediately available to all users and Pages. Instead, the update is still slowly rolling out throughout June.
Beginning in May, iPhone users will see a new feature from Facebook: Instant Articles. Popular publishers like BuzzFeed, New York Times, National Geographic, and others will have their articles visible and mobile-friendly within the Facebook app. This means that users will no longer have to follow a link to these articles while waiting for the site to load. Instant Articles will be instantly accessed once the user clicks the post. The article will be completely coded and formatted for mobile devices. Publishers will also have the ability to create their own cover for their articles that will appear in News Feeds. Facebook will not favor Instant Article publishers over other posts and articles; however, these articles are more likely to get shares and interaction due to their easy access and mobile compatibility.
Search and Add Shareable Links in Your Posts
Facebook is now implementing a new function that allows users to quickly and easily share links in their posts and status updates, particularly on mobile devices. This new addition is currently only available for a small number of users, but it is expected to roll out for all users very soon. Instead of copying and pasting a link, users can now select the “Add Link” button and then search keywords to find the article or post they wish to share. Results are listed based on popularity of the article or post on Facebook, which incorporates data not used by Google in their search results. Facebook is now a major influence in referral traffic, so it only makes sense that the social media juggernaut would simplify its link sharing process.
Search and Add Shareable Links in Your Posts
In 2015, Facebook has made an effort to listen to its users who prefer seeing their friends’ posts over Pages or promotional posts. In January, Facebook began cracking down on Pages who publish “click-bait” posts or posts with the sole intent of selling a product. Now, Facebook is focusing on giving priority to the posts from the friends you care about the most. Simply put, users will now see more posts from close friends in their News Feed than posts made from the Pages they follow.
There are some who believe Facebook is making these changes to encourage businesses to use paid ads on Facebook as opposed to just the free Pages accounts. However, Facebook users have been vocal about their disdain for the priority given to posts from Pages. Facebook understands that if its users are dissatisfied, then it is unlikely there will be any users in the future. In order to retain users and continue to grow, this change was inevitable.
Facebook has now implemented a strong effort to reduce the number of hoax links that appear in your News Feed. This includes posts you make yourself or links you share that appear to be a scam. When you see a questionable post you now have the option to report that post or link as “a false news story.” Once a post has been reported by many users as being “false,” then its distribution will be significantly reduced. Facebook will not attempt to delete false posts or evaluate the veracity of their content; however, a frequently false-reported post will come with an annotation at the top indicating that many users have reported that the post is false.
This update should not affect most publishers on Facebook. If you tend to publish or share satirical articles, most users will not report such posts as “false news.” However, those accounts that frequently use hoax or scam posts to increase their traffic will see a strong decrease in their post distribution.
Facebook recently surveyed 500,000 users and discovered that the vast majority of those users wished to see more posts from friends and family as opposed to promotional posts, even if they originate from a Page the user likes. As of January, Facebook will begin cracking down on Pages who publish posts that push followers to either buy a product or download an app, enter a contest or sweepstakes with no context, or publish posts that use the same wording as published ads. Facebook said the following about the change, “While Pages that post a lot of the content we mention above will see a significant decrease in distribution, the majority of Pages will not be impacted by this change.”
Facebook remained fairly vague about which kind of Pages this will affect the most, but marketers would be wise to reevaluate their posting strategy so that they will not be punished by Facebook with a significant fall in organic distribution. The good news is that this change does not affect paid ads.
App Ad Feed
Facebook introduces a new search function specifically for finding the apps you want. In the mobile navigation menu there is now a “Find Apps” bookmark that presents a special feed of paid app advertisements. App stores, such as Apple and Google, have failed to provide a feed of apps that is catered to the interests of the user. Facebook’s new App Ad Feed displays ads that are targeted towards Facebook users based on their habits, likes, and activity. App discovery in most app stores is extremely flawed. With Facebook’s new App Ad Feed you can now search through apps that have been selected with you in mind.
Facebook implements a keyword search that allows users to search for previous posts using keywords and names of friends. Now users can access old archived posts that were previously shared with them through a simple search. The search results will only display posts and photos that have been shared with you, for example, on your News Feed. Likewise, only posts you’ve shared with friends will be displayed in their searches. You can select your audience with any post you make; if your post is set to be Public then anyone who searches for it can find it. If only your friends can see your posts then only your friends can find your posts with general searches. You can also be found if others have tagged you in their posts and photos. If you wish to remove yourself from another’s post you can edit the post and request to remove your tag or that the post be removed from Facebook altogether.
Facebook announces that view counts will now be posted with their videos. Facebook wants the world to know that YouTube is not the only dominant presence in online videos. The video views on Facebook have been growing over the years, now reaching 1 billion views per day. The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge trend has also contributed immensely to Facebook’s video views. Facebook hopes to show digital video advertisers that Facebook is a great place to run video ads. Videos on Facebook come from a variety of sources: users, pages, and public figures.
Facebook also announced that in addition to adding view counts to their videos, recommended videos will now appear once a user has finished watching a video. This will only help increase the amount of video views on Facebook further establishing the social media platform as one of the premiere destinations for online videos.
Once again, Facebook listened to complaints from users and created this update that made a substantial effort to eliminate “click-bait” posts as well as help users to see shared links in the best format. “Click baiting” involves posts that feature a headline made to get the user to click on the link. A common headline found on “click baiting” links may sound like “You won’t believe what happens next!” Users have quickly become annoyed by such obvious schemes to increase web traffic. Facebook now analyzes how much time a user spends on a link they click. If the user quickly returns to Facebook after clicking a link, this tells Facebook that the link was not what the user wanted, which is frequently the case with “clickbait” links. The weeding of these links will also be aided by how much a link is liked and shared on Facebook. Liked and shared links are typically not “clickbait” links.
Shared links will now be displayed in the traditional link format, instead of being buried in photo captions or status updates. This link format will also preview the beginning of the article that will better inform users if they want to click the link.
Instagram (owned by Facebook) had its first algorithm update this month. The “Explore” (or “Popular”) tab was tweaked to display photos and videos specifically tailored for each user. Previously the tab only showed the most popular posts across all Instagram users.
News Feed Update
Facebook announced new changes to the News Feed ranking algorithm. One key change gave posts not seen by users a second chance at being viewed. Another important update gave more weight to each user’s most 50 interactions on the network in determining what they see in their feed.
Facebook changed the design of the News Feed to improve its visual appearance for the purpose of increasing user engagement.
Combined News Feed
Facebook responds to users’ outcries about the 2009 update and instead of separating the two types of News Feeds, both are consolidated into one News Feed. Facebook wanted its users to be able to see exactly what they logged on to see. Facebook themselves stated at the time: “When you visit Facebook, you should see the things you’re most interested in, like status updates from your family and closest friends.” They knew that people didn’t log in all the time, so they adjusted their News Feed accordingly. Using an updated News Feed algorithm, they aimed to show all people the most relevant posts at all times. Users, having somewhat acclimated to the last update, had some difficulty adjusting once again to the new update. The changes were pretty complicated for the average user and only computer-savvy users fully understood the changes. The News Ticker is also introduced on the right side-bar which was meant to display other friends’ activity on Facebook such as likes, comments, and so on.
News Feed Prioritizes Popular Posts
This update marked the largest change to date. Facebook debuted a new type of default sorting order. Previously, it had been a reverse chronological listing of updates/photos. The new order was based on popularity. Popularity was quantified by engagement on each post. The more engaging the post, the higher it appeared in the News Feed. This update did create some backlash from users who preferred the original chronological default and for those not wanting their relationship status updates to be cycled through multiple News Feeds based on the growing popularity of the post.
News Feed Filters
Facebook introduced filters into their platform. This allowed people to have more control over what they saw. The filters were new and slightly complicated which led to many users neglecting to use them, although gradual adoption of use of the filters took place over the next several months. . This update also included the ability to make fine tunes to your status updates and include multimedia with your posts. You could also makes specific lists of friends that would allow you to only see updates from certain friends.
The “Like” Button Is Introduced
The Like Button feature is added. This is the first time that Facebook started experimenting with an algorithm. With the introduction of the “Like” button, users have a simplified way of interacting with others’ posts. Prior to the addition of the “Like” button, users had to comment on a status or post to interact with the other user. Also, with the inclusion of the X out feature, Facebook could evolve according to what you “like” and what you X out. This algorithm made it so your News Feed would eventually highlight posts that Facebook thinks would interest the individual user.
News Feed Launch & Status Updates
Facebook officially launches News Feed, and with it, status updates. Prior to the News Feed, logging in to Facebook would solely access your profile page which you could update and personalize, but in order to see others’ pages, you had to manually search for those profiles. With the introduction of the News Feed, the homepage was redesigned to show you others’ status updates and uploaded photos. The profile page would also show a mini-feed of updates and became known as “the wall.”
How Facebook Algorithm Changes Affect Marketers
Along with Facebook’s ever-evolving algorithm changes, the digital marketing opportunities have increased as well. As the News Feed was introduced and updated, advertising increasingly found its way into users’ News Feeds. Now, whenever a user brings up their News Feed, Facebook’s algorithm determines which advertisements are best catered to the user based on their Likes, Reactions, listed interests, and interaction with other Pages. This means that in order to fully take advantage of advertising through Facebook, marketers must create their ads with a focused and targeted audience campaign. Marketers will also determine the amount they are willing to spend on their ads which will directly affect the probability that their ad will reach the intended audiences.
Users are now able to dictate which ads they want to see on their News Feed. If a user hides an ad from their feed, they are essentially telling Facebook that that ad does not apply to them. Facebook is more engaged to considering user feedback concerning ads which will ultimately lead to more ads users want to see and less ads that are not applicable. What this means for marketers is that their ads will more likely reach the audience that wants to see those types of ads, which should inevitably lead to more interaction and conversion rates.
What Marketers Need To Know About Advertising Through Facebook In 2017
Advertising through Facebook will continue to evolve just as it always has in the past. What marketers need to know going forward in 2017 is that engaged conversations will get their posts and advertisements shown more regularly in others’ News Feeds. Also, News Feed will begin weighing Reactions more than Likes on a post or ad. This increases the need for quality content that will make users want to engage in the conversation. Your post has the ability to recycle through News Feeds as users comment and interact causing more and more users and friends of friends to see the post.
Mobile devices are now more popular than ever, especially when it comes to interacting on Facebook. Marketers not only need to worry about producing quality content, but they must make sure that anything they post (including links to articles) must be optimized for mobile devices.
One of the most important things marketers must do is stay up-to-date with every algorithm change. What worked in the past does not necessarily work now, and what works now may not work in the future. Stay current on how social media evolves and be prepared to evolve with it.