Facebook announced an upcoming algorithmic change to the newsfeed which will result in less referrals from business pages and more posts from friends at the top of your feed. Facebook is going to rank posts from your friends higher than posts from pages you liked.
Facebook views friend posts as the lifeblood of the service and vital to keeping users coming back. "Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook," stated Lars Backstrom, Facebook's Engineering Director. "That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends."
In April 2015 Facebook made a change that moved friends posts higher up in the news feed, so the latest update must have ratcheted up the ranking of post from friends even more. The language used in their announcement, "people with many connections" and "the things posted by the friends you care about" indicates that this ranking change is focused on the friends that you engage with regularly. The change means you will see more posts from your best friends on Facebook and their posts will replace business page posts, moving them down the newsfeed.
If you rely on Facebook traffic for your publishing, business or ecommerce website realize that your Facebook referrals will likely go down, and my guess is way down. Historically, when Facebook makes a ranking change that they actually announce, it usually results in a clear and noticeable outcome. From Facebook's perspective, they want users to feel the positive impact of the change.
Facebook knows that it is in a fight for user attention from all kinds of sources, but especially other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook owned Instagram. Faceboook actually reported an increase in Facebook usage with their first quarter results announcement, saying that the average time people spend on Facebook has gone up, from around 40 minutes in 2014 to 50 minutes today. Unfortunately, that number includes Instagram, which muddies the waters on whether Facebook itself is seeing increased engagement. It also may be indicative of an increased amount of video content from newsfeed shares and from Facebook Live, which is something Facebook is counting on for its future growth. Another report, by The Information, shows a a 21% decline in “original sharing," indicating that its users are still on Facebook reading and watching videos and probably sharing them, but they are posting less themselves. That should be concerning to Facebook.
Facebook's Core Newsfeed Values
Facebook also announced their Core Values, apparently as a response to the allegations of political bias against conservatives. Facebook knows that everyone's Facebook news feed is unique but one core principal is that the newsfeed should center on a persons friends and family. "Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook," commented Adam Mosseri, the VP of Product Management for the Facebook News Feed. "That’s why if it’s from your friends, it’s in your feed, period — you just have to scroll down."
Facebook has found, through the extensive use of user surveys, that your feed should both inform and entertain. They say that people expect their feed to be personal and meaningful as well as interesting and informative. "We’ve also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment," stated Mosseri. "For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends."
More from Facebook:
A PLATFORM FOR ALL IDEAS
We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful. Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and view points, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging.
We don’t favor specific kinds of sources — or ideas. Our aim is to deliver the types of stories we’ve gotten feedback that an individual person most wants to see. We do this not only because we believe it’s the right thing but also because it’s good for our business. When people see content they are interested in, they are more likely to spend time on News Feed and enjoy their experience.
It’s important to note that while we welcome a multitude of viewpoints, we also believe strongly that people should feel — and be — safe when they use Facebook, and we therefore have Community Standards that define the behavior that we think is out-of-bounds on the platform. We think it’s possible to be inclusive without making Facebook a place where people are subjected to attacks, hate, or other harmful behavior.
The strength of our community depends on authentic communication. The feedback we’ve gotten tells us that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most. That’s why we work hard to understand what type of stories and posts people consider genuine — so we can show more of them in News Feed. And we work to understand what kinds of stories people find misleading, sensational and spammy, to make sure people see those less.
YOU CONTROL YOUR EXPERIENCE
Ultimately, you know what’s most meaningful to you — and that’s why we’ve developed controls so you can customize what you see. Features such as “unfollow,” “hide” and “see first” help you design your own experience — and when you use them, we take your actions as feedback to help us better understand what content is most important to you. For example, if you hide a story from someone, that signals that you’re less interested in hearing from that person in the future. As News Feed evolves, we’ll continue building easy-to-use and powerful tools to give you the most personalized experience.
We view our work as only 1 percent finished — and are dedicated to improving along the way. As we look for ways to get better, we will continue soliciting feedback. We will be as open as we can — providing explanations in News Feed FYI wherever possible and looking for opportunities to share how we work.