Editor’s note: We’ve spotted a couple of News Feed updates from Facebook in February 2016 and wanted to share these with you. Anything you’d like to add to this post? Let us know in the comments below or drop us a tweet.
February 2016: Facebook Reactions
Update February 24, 2016: Facebook recently rolled out Reactions – their supercharged ‘like’ button. Initially, just as they do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, Facebook will infer they want to see more of that type of post.
In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.
If you’re interested to find out more about Facebook Reactions you can find all the details here.
February 2016: Relevant stories
Update February 1, 2016: Through research, Facebook found that people reported having a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories they are both likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with.
As such, Facebook are making an update to News Feed that combines these two signals. The News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that someone would want to see the story at the top of their feed and the probability that they will like, comment on, click or share a story.
Facebook will start to rank stories higher in feed which they think people might take action on, and which people might want to see near the top of their News Feed.
How may this affect your page?
In their blog post announcing this change, Facebook explain:
In general this update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of Pages; however, some Pages may see some increases in referral traffic, and some Pages may see some declines in referral traffic. Pages might see some declines in referral traffic if the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed. This update helps rebalance those two factors, so people are seeing relevant stories to them.
Facebook also recommends that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take an action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time.
July 2015: Greater user control over the News Feed
Update July 9, 2015: In an update that’s first arrived on iOS (and coming soon to all mobile and web), Facebook is making it easier for people to adjust and customize their News Feed settings.
The preferences tab will be more visible and more intuitive, allowing people to find pages and people to like and follow, and easily selecting to follow/unfollow certain content.
June 2015: Time spent on stories
Update, June 12, 2015: How much time you spend viewing stories becomes a factor Facebook uses to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed.
The signals from content you spend more time with will help determine what appears higher in the News Feed, potentially having an effect on the visibility of content from Pages. Facebook explains:
“We’ve discovered that if people spend significantly more time on a particular story in News Feed than the majority of other stories they look at, this is a good sign that content was relevant to them.”
The social network does not expect Pages to see significant changes in distribution as a result of this update.
April 2015: Friends’ content prioritized
Update, April 21, 2015: Content posted by the friends you care about will appear higher in the News Feed.
The content posted by your friends, items such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will appear higher in the News Feed, potentially having an effect on the visibility of content from Pages.
In addition, Facebook is updating the News Feed to lower the visibility of stories about friends liking or commenting on a post. And for those with less content in the News Feed, Facebook now allows content from the same source to appear in succession.
Page owners might be worried how these updates will impact their reach and traffic. As Facebook explains, “the impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.” In other words, there’s no easy way to predict whether it will go up, stay flat, or go down.
March 2015: Facebook updates how Likes are counted
Update, March 5, 2015: Facebook to update the way Page likes are counted, removing the likes of memorialized accounts and deactivated accounts.
It’s possible that Page owners might see a small decline in the overall Likes for their page once this update occurs.
January 2015: Facebook targets hoaxes
Update, January 20, 2015: Facebook aims to reduce the number of hoaxes in News Feed with algorithm tweak.
To reduce the number of posts containing misleading or false news, Facebook has announced that the News Feed algorithm will begin to factor in when many people flag a post as false or choose to delete posts.
You also might see these type of posts that Facebook deems misleading displayed with this warning:
This algorithm tweak is designed to keep articles that many people have reported as a hoax or chosen to delete from getting widespread distribution in News Feed.
January 2015: Video is growing
Update, January 12, 2015: Facebook has provided some new stats and tips on using video, including these:
- In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US.
- The amount of video from people and brands in the News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year.
- Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day.
- On average, more than 50% of people who come to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily.
- 76% of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.
Seems like a big clue that Facebook could be favoring video posts more highly!
November 2014: Overly promotional posts penalized
Update, November 14, 2014: Facebook will begin monitoring and reducing the appearance of overly promotional posts from Pages, beginning in January 2015. Overly promotional posts, according to Facebook, may include:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.
Here’s an example of a type of promotional post:
November 2014: More Newsfeed control
Update, November 7, 2014: Facebook users now have additional control options for choosing what they see in their news feed. What’s particularly interesting about this is that you can now do the following:
“You can filter the view by people, Groups or Pages, or see them all at once.”
Here is how this looks inside the app:
November 2014: Post bundling
Update, November 6th 2014: Fans of a particular Facebook page may see that page’s posts bundled together in the News Feed, such that the user would need to click a link to see more from the page. This happens when there are multiple posts from the Page that could appear in the News Feed (e.g., if a Page publishes multiple posts in one day).
Note: We’re constantly refreshing this post. All information you read below is accurate and up-to-date as of November 6, 2014.
Does this sound familiar: People have liked your Facebook page or followed your profile, and when you post a new update, less than 10 percent of your fans and followers ever see it.
It’s a challenge that many Facebook marketers face. How do you get your content seen on Facebook?
The secret is in understanding the Facebook News Feed and its mighty algorithm. The Facebook algorithm helps make sense of the huge number of potential stories and updates that could come our way, choosing updates to show in our News Feed based on a huge number of factors.
Here’s our solution: We want to help you understand how your updates get viewed on Facebook. So we’re collecting all the Facebook algorithm factors, updates, and changes that we can find and placing them here in this post for easy reference.
Read on, and see what goes into the complex, fascinating formulas of the Facebook News Feed.
Note: This post will be updated with the latest Facebook algorithm news and changes as they happen. We’ll make a note up with for the latest date. Got something to add to this post? Let us know in the comments or by emailing email@example.com.
The Overview of Facebook News Feed Factors
How does Facebook decide what to show in a News Feed? Here are the factors that may determine whether your post shows up or not.
Do this: The algorithm loves …
- Posts with lots of comments
- Posts with lots of likes
- Post types that users seem to prefer more than others (e.g., photo, video, or status update)
- Posts that reference a trending topic
- Posts that receive a high volume of likes, comments, or shares in a short time
- Link posts
- Videos uploaded to Facebook that receive a large number of views or extended viewing duration
- Posts that tag other pages within the text
- Posts that are liked or commented on by one’s friends
- Posts from pages that one interacts with often
- Post types that one interacts with often
- Posts from pages with complete profile information
- Posts from pages where the fan base overlaps with the fan base of other known high-quality pages
- Images and videos that have not previously appeared in the Open Graph
- Links that have not been posted before
Don’t do this: The algorithm is not too keen on …
- Frequently circulated content and repeated posts
- Posts that include spammy links
- Text-only status updates from pages
- Posts that are frequently hidden or reported (a sign of low quality)
- Posts that contain the words “like, comment, or share”
- Posts with unusual engagement patterns (a like-baiting signal)
- Posts that receive negative feedback categorizes as “meme content”
- Posts that are classified as memes by Facebook’s visual analysis of overlayed text on image
- Passive fans of a particular Facebook page may see that page’s posts bundled together in the News Feed, such that the user would need to click a link to see more from the page.
- Overly promotional content from pages—pushing people to buy an app or service, pushing people to enter a contest or sweepstakes, posts that reuse the same text from ads
Details: How Facebook decides what appears in a News Feed
The total number of comments and likes on a post impact visibility.
The post type—photo, video, or status update—impacts visibility.
The stories that show in your News Feed are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. This helps you to see more stories that interest you from friends you interact with the most. The number of comments and likes a post receives and what kind of story it is (ex: photo, video, status update) can also make it more likely to appear in your News Feed.
(source: Facebook, 2014)
Posts that reference a trending topic may receive higher visibility.
When a friend or Page you are connected to posts about something that is currently a hot topic of conversation on Facebook, that post is more likely to appear higher up in News Feed, so you can see it sooner.
Trending topics appear in the right sidebar of your Facebook News Feed. For timely posts, Facebook may show a “trending” notification at the top of the post.
(source: Facebook, September 2014)
The timing of when likes, comments, and shares occur on a post impacts visibility.
Currently one of the signals we look at is the total number of likes that a post has received when determining how high up to to show it in News Feed. With this update, we are going to begin looking at when people are choosing to like, comment and share.
(source: Facebook, September 2014)
Clickbait drives down the visibility of a post.
Facebook will show fewer clickbait posts in the News Feed. A couple of ways they determine clickbait include:
- If a user clicks through to a link and then comes straight back to Facebook
- If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like or comment on the story when they return to Facebook
(source: Facebook, August 2014)
Link posts receive preference over links shared in photo captions or status updates.
(source: Facebook, August 2014)
The views and viewing duration of videos uploaded to Facebook impact visibility.
This factor does not include videos shared from YouTube, Vimeo, or other sites.
(source: Facebook, June 2014)
Frequently circulated content and repeated posts are shown less.
There are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again. We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them. We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages.
(source: Facebook, April 2014)
Like-baiting posts are shown less.
Like-baiting refers to posts explicitly asking users to take an action on the post like commenting, sharing, or liking. These posts tend to get greater engagement but Facebook users don’t associate these posts with quality.
(source: Facebook, April 2014)
Posts that include spammy links are shown less.
By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we’ve been able to better detect spammy links.
(source: Facebook, April 2014)
Tagging other pages within a post may increase visibility.
When a Page tags another Page, we may show the post to some of the people who like or follow the tagged Page.
(source: Facebook, February 2014)
Text-only status updates from pages are shown less.
the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends … Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.
(source: Facebook, January 2014)
Posts that are liked or commented on by friends may be shown more.
You see stories in your News Feed about your friends’ activity on Facebook, including when your friends like or comment on posts from people you’re not friends with.
You also might see stories in your News Feed about your friends liking or commenting in public groups that you’re not a member of.
(source: Facebook, 2014)
Related articles add an extra opportunity for visibility.
Soon, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles directly below the News Feed post to help you discover more content you may find interesting.
(source: Facebook, December 2013)
4 factors that increase visibility:
- How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
- The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
- How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
- Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post
In addition to these factors, Facebook also bumps older organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see the first time. These posts can reappear near the top of News Feed if they’re still getting lots of likes and comments.
(source: Facebook, August 2013)
3 elements of pages that may increase visibility:
- How frequently content from a certain Page is reported as low quality (e.g., hiding a Page post),
- How complete the Page profile is
- Whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base of other known high quality Pages
The article on Facebook claims that over 1,000 different factors go into the News Feed system to calculate the score of a News Feed story. Recommendations from the article include:
- Make your posts timely and relevant
- Build credibility and trust with your audience
- Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
- Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”
(source: Facebook, August 2013)
- Like-baiting signal: Words such as “like, comment, or share”
- Like-baiting signal: Unusual engagement patterns
- Meme content signal: Negative Feedback categorized as “meme content”
- Meme content signal: Visual analysis of overlayed text on image
From Social Bakers, these factors include some of the proven and theoretical ways that the Facebook artificial intelligence works to gauge the quality of a News Feed post. The above factors would lead to a post receiving lower visibility in the News Feed (like-baiting and meme content are considered low-quality). The below factors for original content would lead to a post receiving higher priority in the News Feed.
- Original content signal: Has image/video existed in Open Graph before?
- Original content signal: Has this link been posted before?
(source: Social Bakers, May 2014)
Old posts stand a good chance of being seen.
The above chart comes from an analysis by the Washington Post’s Tim Herrera of his personal News Feed. He tracked and charted over 3,200 posts on a single day, posts that came from Facebook friends and pages he has liked. He ended up seeing nearly as many old posts as new posts—and missed out on a huge number of other new posts from friends and pages.
The takeaway: Old content has a longer shelf life in the News Feed than we may think.
(source: Washington Post, August 2014)
Affinity can impact the visibility of a post.
One of the factors the Facebook News Feed algorithm considers is affinity–that is, how much of a connection you have with each fan. If you can get them liking, commenting on, and sharing more content, you demonstrate a greater affinity and they will see more of your future content.
(source: Inc, October 2014)
Lower fan engagement may lead to bundled posts.
Travis Bernard of TechCrunch noticed bundling of a page’s posts in the News Feed. The explanation:
Whether or not the stories collapse into a single update is completely dependent on user behavior. If you’re engaging with a page’s posts on a consistent basis, the stories will not collapse. If you have not been engaging with the page’s posts within the News Feed on a regular basis, the stories will likely collapse for you. The difference is whether you are a passive fan or a die-hard fan.
(source: TechCrunch: November 2014)
Here’s a must-see video about the quality of your Facebook page’s fans and how this might impact the engagement on your posts and, therefore, the visibility and reach of your content.
Mark Zuckerberg addressed the topic of declining Facebook reach in a Q&A held on November 6. The discussion begins at the 16-minute mark of the below video.
Could you help us make this resource more complete?
We’d love your help in tracking any changes and factors to the Facebook News Feed so that this post can be as complete as possible.
Is there anything that we’ve missed?
Is there any news that came out recently that we should add?
Let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to pass along a hat tip in the post for any and all good leads.
We hope this resource comes in handy for you as you navigate your Facebook marketing strategy. Let us know how things go, and if there’s anything we can do to improve the way we help.