Reaching the News Feed: Getting Your Message Out on Facebook

June 8, 2016


The Facebook F8 Conference is always a big event each year and this year was jam-packed with new information about the Social Media Goliath.

One of the topics they presented took a look into the most valuable feature of the platform, “News Feed: Getting Your Content to the Right People.” This topic is very relevant for users as well as brands. Facebook’s VP of Product Management, Adam Mosseri, provided an overview of how the News Feed works. Sharing some insight into how users see content in the News Feed.

Mosseri began by explaining that we now live in a world where there’s “more and more information for us to consume every day, but only so much time we have in which to do that.” Thus, the mission of the Facebook News Feed is to “connect people with stories that matter most to them.”

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, stated in a previous interview that:

“If you could rate everything that happened on Earth today that was published anywhere by any of your friends, any of your family, any news source, and then pick the 10 that were the most meaningful to know today, that would be a really cool service for us to build. That is really what we aspire to have News Feed become.”

The main way to keep people coming back to the site is to make sure that users are seeing what they want to see, connecting users with content that is relevant to them. User experience is the driving force behind Facebook.

Mosseri explained that the system is very “user-centric” and is built around individual preferences and actions not content.

Mosseri goes on to point out that “When you first sign up to Facebook, your News Feed is totally empty – it’s a blank slate. And then, slowly but surely over time, you friend the people you care about, you follow the publishers you’re interested in, and you build your own, personalized experience.”

There ends up being a lot of competition for space in the News Feed. Users are typically connected to numerous friends, Pages, groups, etc. All of the updates from each of these sources are competing to get into the followers News Feed.

If your Page published a new update and no other content was posted your update would definitely be seen by your followers. However, when others post content it now competes with your content to get into the Feeds. If the other content posted is more in line with what the user is actually interested in the competing content will be more likely to make it into the News Feed and your chances of having your content seen diminishes.

Many companies try to hone in on studying what the best times to post are, so that your content, relevant or not, will potentially get into more Feeds.

Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what content you would most like to view in your personal News Feed, based on your preferneces. Each piece of content published is assessed. The Facebook algorithm is the formula used to determine what content is placed in each individual user’s News Feed.

Facebook uses the following factors to assess whether an update makes it into your News Feed:

  • Who – Who posted the content and how often does the user engage with content from this source (friend/Page/Group)
  • Type – This determines what sort of content the user most engages with, links to articles, photos, videos, etc. If a user watches a lot of videos it is likely more video updates will show in their Feed.
  • Interactions – This looks at how often a user interacts with updates. If a user often likes or comments on a Page’s update it is more likely that the Page’s future updates will show in the user’s Feed.
  • When – People want to see the latest information. Facebook looks at when an update was posted and takes this into consideration when feeding it through to a user’s Feed. Updates made today will rank higher in the Feed. However, if the update is ranked as a relevant to the individual user (a friend’s engagement announcement, a cousin’s new baby announcement, etc.) but was posted a few days ago it may be given higher priority if Facebook determines it to be of interest to the individual user.

At the end of this assessment Facebook then gives each update a “Relevancy Score.” This score is specific to each individual user based on their predicted level of interest. Whether or not the update reaches a user’s News Feed is determined by this score.

When a user leaves Facebook and comes back to the site at a later time, the process starts again, ranking all new content that has been posted since that user was last on the site.

What does this mean to a business/brand?

The relevancy and ranking makes it more challenging for businesses to get their message out to the followers and difficult to get significant organic reach. The scoring system means that posting updates here and there will likely rank your content lower and less likely to be seen by the followers of the Page.

Additionally, the interest level in the content matters. While you want to get your marketing messages out to your audience, it is necessary to provide a more meaningful interaction with the followers in order to keep relevant. Connecting with the audience by providing stories they want to see, stories beyond your sales message are necessary.

The more you can connect with them and generate interaction, the stronger your News Feed signal will be. (Social Media Today)

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