Facebook Updates News Feed Algorithm

Once again, Facebook is changing the way its News Feed is structured and many people have questions as to what it actually means this time. As this new feature on Facebook rolled out, so did a document titled “News Feed Values” by the company, which is meant to supply clarity around exactly that question.

While the document mentioned has apparently been known for years internally, it is new to the public. After reading through it, the main value seems to be “connecting people with their friends and family.” Simple, right? Both yes and no. Is it true that people want to see more pictures of their Aunt Mildred’s reheated lasagna? I don’t think so. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, 44% of adults in the United States read their news on Facebook, and this change will affect how much of this news content will truly be seen in the feed. The algorithm itself looks at comments, likes, and other factors to rank the stories for each individual user.

In this sense, it sounds like what will be shown varies person to person to suit their individual tastes. While it does make sense that a social media sites such as Facebook (originally designed as a platform for students to communicate) try to focus more on personal connections, publishers are concerned as to how it will affect their traffic as more personal connections will be pushed to the top. Facebook was even pretty clear in a blog post that they’re aware the change might hurt some publishers. The blog post stated:

“Overall we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience.”

Don’t freak out just yet though, people. While the blog post gives an understanding of what is to happen, Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, Vice President of Product Management and the News Feed, said that the change is “significant, but no more significant than the other changes we’ve announced.” What the change truly means is that for publishers and brands, there isn’t necessarily a decrease in engagement. What it does mean is that there is more pressure now to create shareable, eye-catching content and that the content you publish for your audience needs to be interesting enough for them to share with their audience. What is interesting, though, is with this new change, “the links that people share to your publication for their friends will actually be valued higher” said Mosseri. Posts, if targeted to those who truly are involved in your brand, will be an even better place to discuss what their friends are already talking about.

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