Facebook announced a new News Feed feature on Tuesday, which will show users more updates from Pages they don't follow. This comes at a time when Facebook is already showing users less from the pages they've actually gone out of their way to "like".
Should Facebook show users more from the pages they actually like as opposed to from the Pages it thinks they'll like? Share your thoughts.
You'll see updates from Pages that you haven't liked when they're about other Pages that you have liked. For example, if you like Dwight Howard on Facebook, you might see a Bleacher Report update about him if they've tagged him in their post.
As Facebook notes, it already does this with updates from friends. The company tested the feature for Pages, and found that people gave this kind of content high scores in surveys.
Not all users agree. One person commented on a CNET article, "Facebook, how about showing me the posts from the pages I indicated I was interested in by 'liking' them or posts that I may be interested in that are posted by my 'friends' before you spam me with random content."
That seems like the expected reaction.
"We look at many factors to make sure the most relevant stories appear in News Feed, including which posts are getting the most engagement (such as likes, comments, shares and clicks) across all of Facebook," says product manager Andrew Song. "We also consider which posts are getting the most engagement from people who like both the Page that posted and the Page that was tagged."
"For example, if many people who like Dwight Howard also like the Bleacher Report, it suggests that these two Pages are connected," he adds. "If we see that people who like both the Bleacher Report and Dwight Howard are liking the post above, that's an indication that it may be relevant for people who only like Dwight Howard. This means some Page posts that tag other Pages may be seen by new people."
Facebook considers the feature a way for people to discover conversations around topics they're interested in, not unlike the Trending feature it recently launched. It is quite different, however, as Trending appears off to the side as opposed to in the News Feed itself.
It will be interesting to see how Page owners react to the change. As you may know, Facebook recently made adjustments to its News Feed ranking algorithm that greatly hurt the visibility of many pages' posts, while rewarding Pages that managed to be white-listed for "quality" by Facebook.
That was a controversial enough move, but adding posts from Pages that people haven't even liked into their news feed seems like a slap in the face of the Pages that have already suffered this visibility loss.
When people "like" a Page on Facebook, it means they want to keep up to date with whatever person or brand that Page represents. That has historically been how it's worked. Now, unless you're on Facebook's white list, it seems like there's hardly any point in trying to get people to like your Page.
Luckily, Facebook has said that it will work to take more signals into account in determining "quality" - meaning, eventually, it should be less about being on a white list. That's just the way it is now because Facebook only looks at source as a quality signal.
It's interesting that Bleacher Report is the example Facebook chooses to show. This was one of 29 sites it worked with on some other Page testing, which it discussed last fall. Back then, Facebook was encouraging Pages to increase the frequency of their posting, finding that for sites like Bleacher Report, BuzzFeed, Time and the other 26, referral traffic increased significantly. Then came the algorithm update, and BuzzFeed is was one known to have flourished. When asked for the whole list of 29 sites recently, Facebook declined to share it.
Do people really want to see more content from Pages they have not actually liked and less from those that they have? Do you? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Facebook