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Should You Be Concerned About Facebook’s New News Feed Changes?

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Facebook announced – wait for it – more changes to the News Feed algorithm and how it will deliver your Page’s posts to its alleged audience.

As you’re probably well aware, Facebook has been mixing things up all year, and reducing the organic reach of Page posts. The company just announced two more specific changes to its algorithm.

Do you think recent Facebook algorithm changes have made the News Feed better or worse? Let us know in the comments.

First, it’s going after “click-baiting” headlines. Facebook’s definition of this is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much info about what they will see. According to the company, 80% of people say they prefer headlines that help them decide if they want to read the full article before they click through. Here’s what they say about how they determine what is click-bait:

One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.

Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.

The second signal on that seems more helpful as some clicks won’t require the user spend a lot of time to get what they’re looking for.

The second change Facebook announced is going to hit home with a lot of people. At some point, Pages wised up to the fact that it was easier to get links to content in front of people if they were included in the text part of a photo post. Facebook, after all, does tend to show photo posts to more people. Many, many publishers have adopted this strategy on the majority of their posts.

Some might say it really wasn’t a bad thing. It meant sharing a photo with the post, which is indeed more engaging much of the time. It can make the overall presentation of the content more interesting.

Well, I hope you weren’t getting too used to the effectiveness of that strategy because Facebook is apparently killing it. Here’s what they say about that:

We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.

With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.

According to Facebook, the best way to share links is to use the link format. Go figure. We’ll see if these types of shares start performing better for publishers. Obviously Facebook wants you to promote your posts, so I doubt it.

As far as the click-bait headlines go, Facebook says publishers using this strategy can expect to see a decline in their distribution over the next few months. Apparently the change will roll out slowly.

Good luck!

Some have questioned if Facebook’s changes will put a hurting on sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. They wondered the same thing with previous changes, however, and the sites – especially Buzzfeed – continued to thrive. Buzzfeed recently secured a big new cash injection to the tune of $50 million, so they should at least have some extra money to experiment with different strategies should the whole click-bait thing fall through.

Whatever happens with your Page’s reach, it’s worth remembering that no matter how Facebook treats your organic Page posts, the social network still drives more social referrals to websites than any other service by far. In fact, that’s only increasing.

Are you concerned about Facebook’s latest changes? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Facebook

Should You Be Concerned About Facebook’s New News Feed Changes?
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