Facebook News Feed Gets More Ranking Adjustments

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Facebook is messing with the News Feed again. This is an ongoing thing that will never change, but Pages will always face the possibility of increased or decreased reach and referral traffic based on the social network's whims.

How has your Page adjusted to Facebook News Feed changes over the past year? Let us know in the comments.

In its first "News Feed FYI" post of the year, Facebook announced some new changes to how it ranks content in users' News Feeds. After some surveys and research, Facebook has decided that it will now aim to rank more highly stories users are both likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with.

In other words, the News Feed ranking update will rank stories higher if Facebook thinks the users might take action on it and want to see near the top.

"The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you," says Facebook in a blog post. "The actions people take on Facebook—liking, clicking, commenting or sharing a post—are historically some of the main factors considered to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed. But these factors don’t always tell us the whole story of what is most meaningful to you."

"As part of our ongoing effort to improve News Feed, we ask over a thousand people to rate their experience every day and tell us how we can improve the content they see when they check Facebook — we call this our Feed Quality Panel," it adds. "We also survey tens of thousands of people around the world each day to learn more about how well we’re ranking each person’s feed. We ask people to rate each story from one to five stars in response to the question “how much did you want to see this story in your News Feed?” From this research using a representative sample of people, we are able to better understand which stories people would be interested in seeing near the top of their News Feed even if they choose not to click, like or comment on them — and use this information to make ranking changes."

The company says it saw through its research that people tend to have a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories that BOTH likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with. As a result, News Feed will no look at BOTH the probability you that users would want to see the story at the top of their feed and the probability that they will like, comment on, click, or share a story. It will rank things higher when they meet both criteria.

As with any algorithm update, Pages face the possibility of seeing increased or decreased referral traffic. In this case, Facebook says most pages won't notice much of a difference, but you might see a decline if the rate at which your stories are clicked doesn't match how much people report wanting to see your story near the top.

Facebook says the impact of the changes will vary depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.

Facebook also says Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action because it will only cause temporary spikes that will be "rebalanced" over time. It says the "majority of Pages" won't see an impact on reach or referral traffic in any "meaningful" way.

The company says that as the change takes effect, it will learn about possible factors or posting strategies that may lead to increases or decreases in referral traffic, and that it will communicate with partners about these findings.

So what if you're not a partner (which you most likely aren't)? Well, you can keep an eye out for updates on the News Feed best practices page in in the News, Media and Publishing Facebook group.

Facebook released its financials and held a conference call to discuss its business last week. They company didn't have a lot to say about News Feed other than its ad efforts and touting of video performance.

They are expanding live video streaming to the News Feed for all users, so there's that. According to recent research from Locowise, videos are already getting the best reach in News Feed as well as the second best engagement rate (behind images).

This is certainly something to think about as you plan your strategy for the weeks and months ahead, considering Facebook's latest News Feed update.

What do you think about the new update? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Facebook

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.