In 2006 , two years after its birth, Facebook introduced the News Feed, the news roll that each one of us sees on the homepage . Initially it wasn’t well understood by the users, who were not accustomed to see emerge with such ease their friend’s daily life news, without going each time at every single profile. Gradually users learned to understand how to protect their privacy while enjoying the positive effects of the feature.
We all have learned how to use it, but the mechanism operating behind the News Feed has always remained obscure. At least until a few months ago, when Facebook started to release some more information after the roll out of the new version.
The algorithm that Zuckerberg’s creature uses decides what to show us, as necessary, otherwise we would be exposed to 1,500 contents from friends and pages on every access. Long story short, it’s simply a way to help us pay attention to the most relevant stories, not in general, but for each individual user. In doing this, the Facebook News Feed algorithm customises content for 1.2 billion users in real time, and this is remarkable. However, as we would expect, the formula is far from being perfect.
Following, some of the known criteria on which it is based:
1. Affinity: concerns the author links/posts. The closest the relationship with a user/page, the more we will see their posts. Affinity is determined by three main elements:
– from the list in which we decide to add a friend (eg, family or acquaintance)
– activation of the button “follow” (as shown on the cover of every user)
– the attention shown to our contact’s news in terms of interactions
According to the new mechanism called “Last Actor “, weight will be given to the 50 most recent interactions. This will favour the latest content from the “actors” (friends or pages) with whom we’ve interacted more frequently in the recent past.
In order to help the machine understand who interests us, just log on to the official tool “Organise Friends“, little known, but very useful.
2. Weight: it’s a criteria that Facebook assigns to every post published by the users. A status update that receives many likes, comments, shares, that has not been hidden or marked as spam by many, is more likely to appear in the timeline. It is a particularly important criterion for the companies that run an official page.
3. Time Decay: after the last update, content freshness it’s less relevant. This means that the older stories, that you would have probably never seen if not online at the time of publication, will be visible if they continue to receive interactions. This mechanism is called “Story Bumping”, will allow you to see 70% of the previously published stories (only 57% before) and will result in an increase in likes, comments and shares of 5% for your friend’s contents and 8% for pages’, according Facebook.
The last feature announced is called “Chronological Ordering”. Basically will allow you to see arranged in chronological order the most frequent and fresh status updates written by our closest contacts (eg. in the case of a number of comments to a live event or a television broadcast).
4. Post Type: the type of post written also seems to have its own importance. Facebook gives less weight to the purely textual status update in favour of those with photos, videos and links containing metadata. This means you are penalised if using the short URLs, so you might consider pasting the entire link of a news story and wait for the system to collect the data from the target/landing page (notice it when loading the image and associated text at the bottom).
Content from authoritative sources such as publishers, will be preferred, to encourage them using the social network as a breaking news platform.
My advice to companies: make an effort to produce qualitative content designed for Facebook and don’t be lazy using it as a simple link dump.
To all others: start to manage better and more accurately your social network in order to extract more value from the social platform. Can’t really blame the algorithm if you accept the friendship of anyone (!!!) and become a fan of any page.