Facebook is the most used social site among all ages and with 1.65 billion users, people are using Facebook and they are using it a lot. In fact, Facebook accounts for 1 minute for every 6 minutes spent online.
This creates an abundance of content on the site, Facebook has said that the average user has access to more than 1,500 posts per day but only looks at 300.
The content that appears in users’ News Feeds is based on the Facebook algorithm.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of product management for News Feed, explained the need for an algorithm in a blog post: “When we launched News Feed in 2006, it was hard to imagine the challenge we now face: far too much information for any one person to consume. In the decade since, more than a billion people have joined Facebook, and today they share a flood of stories every day. That’s why stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends. If the ranking is off, people don’t engage, and leave dissatisfied. So, one of our most important jobs is getting this ranking right.”
What is the Facebook Algorithm
The algorithm uses factors and signals to determine the updates that are placed in each users’ News Feeds. It is how Facebook curates the vast amount of content posted to the site into a manageable portion of information for each user.
The original algorithm, known as EdgeRank, included 3 factors that determined content rank:
- Affinity – How close is the relationship between user and content or the source of the content?
- Weight – What type of action was taken on the content?
- Time Decay – How current is the content, how recently was it posted?
These 3 items are still included in the current algorithm, but the actual system used to determine ranking remains a secret. However, what is known is that the algorithm uses as many as 100,000 individual factors to determine content ranking, including Facebook’s core values.
How It Works
The priorities known as Facebook’s “set of core values,” or Core News Feed Values, are used in the algorithm. These core values, according to Mosseri’s blog post, include:
· Friends and Family Come First
Facebook’s “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. That’s why if it’s from your friends, it’s in your feed, period — you just have to scroll down. To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. We learn from you and adapt over time.”
· 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. 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…When people see content they are interested in, they are more likely to spend time on News Feed and enjoy their experience.”
· 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.”
· Users Control the 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.”
· Constant Iteration
“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.”
· The Algorithm is Ever-Changing
Facebook has changed their algorithm several times over the years, adapting to the growth and changing interests of users.
They also shared in a blog post “to better understand how we can show people the most informative stories to them, we talk to people and ask them how we can improve what they see when they check Facebook. This is our Feed Quality Program, which includes global crowd-sourced surveys of tens of thousands of people per day, as well as people who answer more detailed questions about what they like seeing in their feeds.
Facebook Marketing Success
One of the best ways to ensure your efforts meet the algorithm’s criteria is to follow the best practices Facebook offers. Their media hub offers a set of on-going best practices that are designed to help your marketing plan.
- Post timely information that makes sense for your business.
- Post quality content.
- Avoid “spammy” content.
- Don’t just post sales updates.
- Share information with your users.
- Respond to commenters.
- Vary the times you post updates to reach everyone on your Page.
- Be creative.
- Use the Live Video feature.
- Tag other Pages in updates (when relevant.)
- Avoid text-only updates.
- Vary content in updates, i.e. images, links, videos, etc.
- Make sure your Facebook Page profile is completed and up-to-date.
- Avoid clickbait tactics, i.e. exaggerated headlines or withholding information to get users to click on the post.