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Facebook News Feed Algorithm Change: Why Timing Matters More Than Ever

Many brands are noticing a distinct shift in reach over the past few weeks, sometimes up to an 80% decline in total reach. Facebook confirmed a News Feed algorithm change in August 2013, but brands are just starting to see the true effect of the modification. To explain the change, Facebook released this statement:

When a user likes something, that tells News Feed that they want to see more of it; when they hide something, that tells News Feed to display less of that content in the future. This allows us to prioritize an average of 300 stories out of these 1,500 stories to show each day.

The News Feed algorithm responds to signals from you, including, for example:

  • How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
  • The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
  • How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
  • Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

The recent Facebook News Feed algorithm change has Pages seeing the greatest impact on engagement rates. The latest algorithm uses over 100,000 signals to determine what content populates into individual News Feeds.

Use Your Facebook Insights

Facebook now monitors interaction between friends and Pages to fill feed with content that has garnered the most recent initial interactions. Furthermore, the algorithm change also takes into consideration Internet connection speed and mobile capabilities, which means that text-only posts during optimal hours may gain the highest engagement. By understanding what this algorithm change means, page admins can optimize their posting schedule based on when fans are online and interaction trends.

Recently updated Facebook Insights spoon feeds you part of this information with the “When Your Fans Are Online” tab:

Facebook Insights Post Timing

This insight tells you when your Page Fans are online and consuming content but you also need to be monitoring the performance of your individual posts to get an understanding of when your Fans are engaging with your brand content on Facebook.

Post Scheduling

There’s also tons of industry data available to help guide your post scheduling, see number 4 on 20 Ways to Increase your Facebook Page Visibility. Buddy Media also has some good data which reports that engagement rates soar after 9pm. A post scheduled for 10am, during the lowest engagement hours, may not garner high initial interaction. Therefore, this post will not populate well within News Feeds. In comparison, a post scheduled for 9:30pm during high interaction hours reaps critical visibility, fast interaction, and therefore capitalizes on this new algorithm change.

A/B Testing on Facebook

In addition to using Buddy Media findings, page admins can implement simple A/B testing practices by using Facebook Insights to compare the engagement success of individual posts based on post schedule and type of post. Insights allow page admins to compare post virality, reach, and engagement. While there is no specific A/B testing tool, viewing insights will supply the most accurate, up-to-date information on the engagement trends of fans.

Facebook announced the launch of a blog series regarding News Feed ranking and I am extremely interested to see further information on the algorithm changes and its impact on Pages. Have you noticed an impact on your Pages? Sound off in the comments below.

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