For the First Time, Facebook Reveals News Feed Algorithms and Announces ‘Story Bumping’
Facebook is infamously difficult to use as a marketing platform for brands. Given the network’s secrecy around its News Feed algorithms, it’s been hard, if not impossible, for brands to determine best practices for reach their follower base. Today, for the first time, Facebook revealed some of the factors used to score posts in the News Feed along with new algorithms that will help top posts receive higher engagement. Say goodbye to EdgeRank!
How Facebook Ranks Posts in Your News Feed
Each time you visit your News Feed there are, on average, 1,500 new posts for you to see. Since you probably don’t have time to sift through such a large number of posts, Facebook determines which posts you are most likely to want to see and arranges them accordingly. To determine what you like, Facebook analyzes the way you and others interact with items in your News Feed, including:
- How often you interact with a friend, Page, or public figure
- How often you interact with each type of post
- The number of likes, shares, and comments a post receives from the Facebook community and particularly from your friends
- Whether or not you and other people are hiding or reporting a particular post
Put simply, Facebook is likely to place a status update from your close friend toward the top of your News Feed. Or, if you often interact with photos, for example, your News Feed is likely to be photo-heavy. And when many of your friends like and comment on a particular post, you’re likely to see that post, too. According to The Next Web, the number of shares a post receives gives that post the highest score for News Feed ranking, followed by the number of likes and then the number of click-throughs.
Additions to the News Feed Algorithms
Facebook’s News Feed developers are busy optimizing your News Feed experience so you spend as much time as possible scrolling through the site. This means developers are working their hardest to make sure your News Feed brings you the posts you most want to see. Here are two of the latest additions to Facebook’s suite of News Feed algorithms along with one upcoming member.
Facebook has added a new algorithm called “Story Bump” to the News Feed that will allow organic stories you don’t scroll far enough to see to reappear in your Feed later. If Facebook determines a post is relevant to you but knows you didn’t scroll far enough to see it, it will “bump” the post to the top of your News Feed the next time you browse Facebook.
This update could be good news for marketers; in early testing Facebook found that Story Bump resulted in a 5% increase in the number of likes, comments, and shares on organic stories from friends and an 8% increase in likes, comments, and shares on organic stories from Pages. Before Story Bump, Facebook users read, on average, 57% of the stories in their News Feeds. Using Story Bump, though, Facebook has found that users read 70% of the posts in their Feeds.
Story Bump is in use on the Web and will soon be released for mobile.
Facebook uses Last Actor to keep track of the last 50 items you’ve interacted with by way of likes, comments, or shares, and uses that information to supply your News Feed with more posts, in the future, by that the accounts that shared those posts.
This algorithm is already in use on both the Web and in Facebook’s mobile apps.
Chronological by Actor
This feature has yet to be released into the Facebook wild, but when it is available it will determine more intelligent ways to display multiple posts from the same author in your News Feed. As discussed earlier, the News Feed currently organizes posts in part by how much interaction they receive and by their relevance to your preferences. This means when users publish about events, for example, posts quickly find themselves out of order and reading through them that way doesn’t make much sense. Once Chronological by Actor is enabled, however, you will see certain posts by the same author in reverse-chronological order. News Feed will place the most recent post at the top followed chronologically by related posts – much like the way you find event-related posts on Twitter.
Among other changes, these new algorithms show that Facebook’s News Feed is becoming more attuned to what you want to see on Facebook and when you want to see it. Hopefully, as the News Feed becomes increasingly intelligent, brands will have a strong channel they can use to reach their fans without having to fork over a ton of cash for promoted posts. But as all things on Facebook go, only time will tell.
Have you noticed these changes in your News Feed? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.