In its first “News Feed FYI” post of the year, Facebook announced some changes to how it ranks content in users’ News Feeds. After surveys and research, Facebook has decided that it will now aim to rank stories more highly that users are likely to rate highly if asked, and likely to engage with.
“The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you,” says Facebook in it’s blog post. “The actions people take on Facebook—liking, clicking, commenting or sharing a post – are historically some of the main factors considered to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed. But these factors don’t always tell us the whole story of what is most meaningful to you.”
“As part of our ongoing effort to improve News Feed, we ask over a thousand people to rate their experience every day and tell us how we can improve the content they see when they check Facebook – we call this our Feed Quality Panel. We also survey tens of thousands of people around the world each day to learn more about how well we’re ranking each person’s feed. We ask people to rate each story from one to five stars in response to the question “how much did you want to see this story in your News Feed?” From this research using a representative sample of people, we are able to better understand which stories people would be interested in seeing near the top of their News Feed even if they choose not to click, like or comment on them – and use this information to make ranking changes.”
Facebook says that they saw through their research that people reported having a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories they are both likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with.
As a result Facebook News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that you would want to see the story at the top of your feed and the probability that you will like, comment on, click or share a story. Facebook will rank stories higher in a feed which they think people might take action on, and which people might want to see near the top of their News Feed.
How will this affect a Page?
Facebook say, “The impact of these changes on a story’s distribution will vary depending on the composition of an audience and their posting activity. In general this update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of Pages; however, some Pages may see some increases in referral traffic, and some Pages may see some declines in referral traffic. Pages might see some declines in referral traffic if the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed. This update helps rebalance those two factors, so people are seeing relevant stories to them.”
They continue, “Pages should avoid encouraging people to take an action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time. Overall, Pages should continue to post things that your audience finds meaningful and continue using our Page post best practices.”