Close-up view of a man with Facebook News Feed on his computer screen

Updates from friends and family, current events, political rants, the latest celebrity gossip, ads for items you would never consider purchasing…sometimes the Facebook News Feed can feel more like a hodgepodge of random (and often infuriating) information. Other times, it totally gets you—showing you exactly what you want to see, at the exact moment you want to see it.

What you see when you log into your Facebook account isn’t random. The Facebook algorithm takes into account a wide variety of information about you to decide what content to show you. With a little understanding of the inner workings of this algorithm, you can have a more relevant and engaging experience.

Done right, your Facebook News Feed will keep you abreast of the latest developments in your industry, allow you to keep an eye on your competitors, deliver what you need to keep your skills sharp, and show you the latest news from your favorite media outlets on topics you actually want to read about.

Understanding Facebook’s algorithm

Although Facebook keeps the specifics of the algorithm a secret, they have given us enough information to deduce general themes that allow users to actively manage what they see. At the most basic level, the Facebook algorithm shows you more from the people and Pages you interact with—that is, those posts you like, comment on, and share.

Diving deeper, it takes into account the amount of time you spend looking at different types of content, trends in the types of content you view, and your clicking habits. For example, if you spend a lot of time viewing videos, video content will be delivered to you more often. If you’re likely to spend more time looking at a photo that contains a smiling face, you’ll see photos of happy-looking people more often. If you click through to the comments on a certain topic, or click through to articles about specific topics, Facebook will serve those up to you more often.

Since this update, the News Feed algorithm weighs more heavily toward updates from friends and family you’re connected to, rather than from Pages you like. As a business person, this can be troubling for two reasons:

  1. There are business Pages you follow because you want to see their latest news and offerings so you can account for them in your own business plans.
  1. You want your own audience to see the updates you post to your own Pages.

The good news is that you can train Facebook to deliver the content you want, and understanding how your actions influence your own News Feed can help you create better posts that your audience is more likely to engage with.

Here are seven News Feed hacks to see the posts you’ll be most interested in.

  1. Interact with the Pages and people you like and give the rest the cold shoulder

To see more from Pages like Upwork (and less about the Kardashians), make sure to interact with the posts you see from Upwork and ignore the ones about Kim and Kanye. To exclude content on a particular topic, click the down arrow at the right-hand side of the post, and choose “Hide Post.” Facebook will then be less likely to show you similar stories in the future.

Don’t fall into the trap of commenting on posts that aren’t worthwhile or interesting to you. Commenting on posts from Pages that use clickbait headlines will only ensure you see more of them. By ignoring or even hiding them, you’ll train the algorithm to keep these types of posts out of your view.

  1. Decide which Pages are important to you

At the top right of any page, click the downward facing triangle, and select “News Feed Preferences” toward the bottom of the menu. Click “Unfollow people to hide their posts” and then choose “Pages only” from the dropdown menu.

Decide which Pages you really want to stay up to date on and unfollow the rest. Cutting down the list to only the ones you’re truly interested in will turn your Pages News Feed into a source of valuable updates rather than a lot of noise to sift through.

Choose competitors to keep up to date with the types of content they’re sharing and take note of which posts do better to help inform your own post strategy. Follow industry leaders to stay fresh on the latest insights. Choose educational pages that offer tips on how to be better at what you do, and media outlets that cover the latest in industry news. Include Upwork and other businesses that you utilize daily to keep on top of the latest trends and features that might affect your day-to-day business operations.

  1. Prioritize who you want to see first

The easiest way to make sure you never miss a post from a Page you follow is to tell Facebook. There are two ways to do this.

First, in “News Feed Preferences,” click “Prioritize who to see first” and choose up to 30 friends and Pages that interest you the most. The latest posts from these people or Pages will always appear at the top of your News Feed when you log in.

The second way to stay on top of relevant Pages is to visit the page and set notifications for that page. To never miss an update from Upwork, for example, visit the Upwork page, hover over the “Liked” button, and a menu will pop up. From here, click the pencil icon next to “Notifications,” and choose which types of posts you want to be notified about.

  1. Check out the “Pages Only” News Feed

When in business research mode, visit the Pages feed to see recent updates from Pages you’re connected to without any distractions from posts by friends and family.

If you have the Facebook app on your phone, follow these steps to set up your Pages feed:

  1. Manage your Facebook ad preferences

Are you seeing ads that aren’t relevant to you? Would you rather get more of one type than another? The Facebook Ad Preferences page allows you to see and edit a list of interests Facebook has determined you have. If an interest triggers ads you aren’t interested in, remove it from the list.

You can also hide ads that are in the form of Sponsored Posts, or let Facebook know you’re more interested in Sponsored Posts. In the News Feed, click the down arrow in the top right corner of the Sponsored Post, and choose either “Hide ad” or “This ad is useful.”

To see more Sponsored Posts that are relevant to your business, choose “This ad is useful” each time you see something useful for your business goals. For example, if you would like to improve your leadership or public speaking skills, choose this option when you see Sponsored Posts related to training in those areas. If you’re in the market for a new CRM or other type of software or interested in the latest in productivity apps for your business, keep an eye out for Sponsored Posts for related products and let Facebook know you want to see more like them.

  1. Create custom lists for people you’re connected to in your industry

On the left-hand side of Facebook, there’s a menu that organizes your connections into categories like Favorites, Pages, and Groups. Scroll down this list until you find “Friends;” hover over it, and click the “More” link that appears. Click “Create list,” give your list a descriptive name, and then add people to this group.

Once created, you can find this group by clicking “Friends” in the menu on the left-hand side. From the Friends menu, you can choose the gear icon next to any Friend list to add it to your Favorites so it will appear among the top entries in the menu. If you click on a group name, your News Feed will only contain updates from those people.

Although Facebook dictates that any business-related account should be set up as a Page rather than a personal profile, many of your friends or personal profiles that you’re following may share useful information that is relevant to your business on their personal pages. You may wish to group all of your entrepreneurial friends together so you can stay up to date on how their business is going. Or you may wish to friend or follow industry leaders who post updates about industry news, and put them in an “Industry Leaders” group.

  1. Follow up on relevant conversations

Use the down arrow on the top right side of any post to “Turn on notifications for this post.” This triggers a notification every time someone comments on that particular post. This is a great way to find out how people feel about the content your competitors are sharing, or what people are saying about the brands and products you see in ads that interest you. It also enables you to continue to participate in conversations relevant to your industry—and to you.

Pulling it all together

With a more relevant News Feed, and some clues into how the Facebook algorithm determines what you see, you’ll have more insight into what is likely to be popular when deciding what to post to your own business Page. Keep in mind that in general, the content that gets the most traction is the content that viewers interact with the most.

Look at the posts you decided were relevant to you, and take note of how they were presented. They were likely informative, spoke to you on an emotional level, or were visually attractive. They were also unlikely to be overtly promotional. Think about the themes that were present in the content you were most likely to like, share, or comment on, as well as the content that performed well on the Pages of your competitors, and determine if those themes would also be relevant to your audience and how you can use them to your advantage.

A strong Facebook marketing plan that includes these considerations will work wonders to optimize the time you and your audience spend on this platform and will help you get the most out of it.