Facebook Announces Algorithm Updates and News Feed FYI

Facebook News Feed, EdgeRank, and its algorithm have long been a source of confusion and mystique to Facebook users and marketers alike. At a press event today, Facebook announced a new blog series titled News Feed FYI that will highlight major changes to News Feed moving forward and hopefully provide some much needed answers.

Facebook EdgeRank Formula

What Is News Feed FYI?

Essentially, this is Facebook’s response to users and marketers, myself included, who have routinely complained about the lack of visibility into the News Feed algorithm and the understanding of how the network chooses which content is most relevant to a given user.

In the past, we’ve attempted to explain EdgeRank and detailed suggestions on how to increase your page’s content visibility in the News Feed. Breaking through the noise is imperative, especially given that on average only about 16% of your fans will see your posts.

This new blog series aims to quell concerns over the mystery that is EdgeRank. I, for one, look forward to hearing directly from Facebook instead of playing a guessing game to determine when and what changes occur.

Story Bumping

So, speaking of updates to the News Feed, the first major update that came out of today’s press event is what is being referred to as Story Bumping.

Facebook News Feed Story Bumping

Previously, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm would surface new content that it deemed relevant to a user to the top of the feed based on how recently it was posted. This new algorithmic feature serves up “new to you” content that may have been published prior to your last log-in, but that you haven’t yet seen.

This seems promising because it means there is potential for a brand’s content to have a higher likelihood of being viewed and interacted with by a user. This could also prolong the life of a Facebook post, which a recent study shows can be as short as about two hours (by life of a post, I mean the window of time between when it is published and when it is likely to reach maximum reach and engagement).

Facebook also shared that initial tests of this algorithmic tweak resulted in an average 8% boost in interactions (Likes, Comments, and Shares) from users on posts they viewed organically from Pages.

Other News Feed Updates

Facebook’s Lars Backstrom also announced “Last Actor” and “Chronological by Actor,” each serving a different purpose in the algorithmic process.

Last Actor

According to TechCrunch, this looks at the last 50 people with whom a user has interacted by viewing a profile, photos, or stories in the News Feed. Once those 50 have been identified, Facebook would serve up content from those 50 more frequently for a short period of time in the News Feed.

Facebook Last Actor

Image Source: InsideFacebook

Chronological by Actor

This update is a little less tangible and doesn’t appear that it will be immediately implemented. Chronological by Actor sounds like Facebook’s attempt at how to handle rapid, real-time content updates. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one in News Feed FYI.

Implications for Brands and Marketers

The biggest takeaway I gleaned from today’s press event is that we, as marketers, have to deliver content that is more relevant and engaging than ever before. As we continue to fight for News Feed real estate, we need to ensure that we give fans content that will resonate and encourage interaction, all while still delivering the brand message.

This is an art and a science that our community managers strive to perfect each day. Hopefully News Feed FYI will help us better understand the science moving forward.

What do you think of Facebook’s announcements today? Is it an honest attempt at transparency or does it scream “you’ll have to pay to play?”

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