Facebook Algorithms and Newsfeeds

When you log into Facebook, the first posts that pop up are usually from a few close friends and about 2 or 3 pages you visit frequently. Have you ever wondered how, out of about 1000 friends and countless liked pages, your Facebook News Feed is magically comprised of the content you actually want to see?

Facebook uses a complicated algorithm for arranging posts in your Newsfeed. While the system itself is quite technical and complicated, there are a few simple factors that influence what appears in your News Feed that you can use to your advantage.

What determines which posts are visible on newsfeeds?

Three factors are considered when determining importance:

  1. Affinity: The “relationship” between a user and a post, which is built by repeat interactions with an organisation’s or user’s posts
  2. Weight: This refers to the value system which facebook uses to increase/decrease the value of certain actions. For example, commenting is deemed more valuable than a like because it is more involved.
  3. Time Decay: Refers to how long an edge has been alive on Facebook. The longer an edge is on Facebook the less valuable it becomes.

Facebook's algorithm is a moving target

Facebook is shifting the way it ranks organic posts that are likely to show up on users’ news feeds. In an article on Marketing land, Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, is quoted saying “there are as many as 100 000 individual weights in the model that produces news feed”. Although affinity, weight, and time decay are still players in the news feed ranking system there are other factors of equal importance. With the machine-learning based approach that Facebook has now implemented the 3 original factors now make up about 0.00003 percent of the total factors considered when determining what gets shown on a users Newsfeed. Backstrom says Facebook looks at global interactions which can outweigh personal interactions. What this means is that if tons of people are interacting with an update it’s likely to appear on your News Feed as well.

Here are just some of the other new factors used in determining Newsfeed Ranks:

  • Relationship Status

    Users can use the control setting to rate their affinity with another user by labeling the user as a “close friend” or “acquaintance”, or with liked Pages users may opt to “Receive notifications” or “Receive all updates”.

  • Post Types

    The algorithm takes into account the type of posts a user likes to make. For instance, if the user tends to upload and interact with photos often, that user would be likely to receive updates on photo activity on their News Feed

  • Story Bumping & Last Actor

    Bumping alters the “decay” rules by giving older, unseen posts a second chance at News Feed visibility if they’re still getting interaction.
    Last Actor tracks a user’s most recent 50 interactions and gives them more weight when deciding what to show in the News Feed.

  • Clicking On Ads, Viewing Other Timelines

    The News Feed algorithm is completely separate from the algorithm that decides what ads to show, when to show ads, and where to show them. But how a user interacts with Facebook ads can influence what shows in the News Feed.

How to get into users News Feeds

A beginners guide to Edgerank article featured on “buffer” this August highlights 5 important elements to up the chances of your content getting featured in the news feeds of users which I think are crucial for brand development as well as garnering the support organizations need to succeed.

1. Post regularly: Posting new content on a regular basis is a good way to ensure your new posts replace the older ones as they slip off the News Feed. One way I do this is by setting up a schedule to post one or two times per day to ensure updates go out consistently.

2. Post photos: If you want users to interact with your content, you’re going to have a better chance with photo and video-based posts. Images that can tell a story without the need of any further text spread the fastest

3. Encourage engagement Questions: contests and fill-in-the-blank statements gain more engagement than other types of posts. Use these to boost engagement with your fans, and increase your affinity score.

4. Keep it clean: The number of complaints for your posts has an effect on how likely they are to hit the News Feed. Be aware of anything that could be seen as spam or against Facebooks guidelines to avoid negative feedback.

5. Focus on quality: Focus on providing high-quality content to your fans consistently, and you’ll be more likely to receive engagement that will push your posts into the News Feed on a regular basis.

It’s clear that Facebook’s newsfeed has grown substantially over the past few years. The challenge for organisations is to optimise their content in order to take full advantage of the exposure that can be gained. Facebook’s aim is to show the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. You job is to keep posting what people want to see.

Check out Facebook for business for the latest updates on Newsfeed changes to come.