Before the 2016 presidential election, most people probably couldn’t tell you why certain content came up first in their Facebook News Feed. As it turns out, the biggest measurement that ranks content is engagement, which includes any interaction with the post in the form of likes, comments, views or shares. It’s especially important that social media marketers understand how information generates the News Feed.
Since the backlash on Facebook after the election, transparency has never been more important. After all, it was engagement that made fake news so well-circulated during the election. Though Facebook has now started to flag fake news stories, it has made users question how they consume information.
It’s no secret that the amount of content on Facebook is only increasing. With over 1.23 billion active daily users, content from news articles to live video is shared every second through Facebook’s News Feed. With such a large volume of posts, Facebook aims to deliver the most relevant and timely content to its users. In a continued commitment to transparency, Facebook shared three updates to how it ranks posts in your News Feed.
1. A filter for authentic content
The reason why your news feed seems so personal is because it is! When ranking posts, Facebook looks at how you interact with a friend or Page. For example, if you commonly like a friend’s posts, those updates will surface to the top of your feed. To increase the amount of authentic content, Facebook created a model to identify when Pages are posting spam. If enough users hide certain posts, Facebook will mark the content as inauthentic, and it will appear much lower in the Feed. This forces digital marketers to post content that’s relevant and helpful to users.
2. A real-time News Feed
For a while now Facebook has looked at engagement as a measure of timeliness. But with the current update, Facebook will also measure how interactions change in real time. For instance, if a certain topic is receiving a lot of activity, Facebook indicates that it may be more important to a user, thus displaying it higher in the News Feed. When your favorite band releases their national tour dates, Facebook knows that this information is timely and relevant to you. That content might rank higher because more people at that time are talking about it across Facebook.
3. A video completion rate
In order to help users find the best videos, Facebook has rolled out a percent completion metric. This measurement looks at how long users spend watching a video. Videos labeled as compelling, which are viewed at least halfway through, will rank higher in the News Feed.
Ultimately, Facebook’s algorithm forces marketers to think deeper about why an audience needs to hear their story. Because the News Feed is all about the user, it’s important to learn how to authentically connect with an audience and create timely, relevant and educational content. People aren’t going to tell their friends about a boring story in “real life,” so why would they share one they don’t care about on social media? Creating engaging content will improve your brand’s trustworthiness and can serve as the basis for a solid social media strategy.
Catherine is a public relations intern at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org