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Keep it relevant – Facebook News Feed changes, By Brett Cullen

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Facebook is ramping up its efforts to make scrolling through News Feed a better experience with a series of recent updates aimed at making it a place full of content that’s more relevant to an individual users’ needs. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that the way brands communicate on the social media juggernaut’s platform adds genuine value and not just more lazy, hazy noise.

The News Feed algorithm is constantly under review as Facebook tries to find the delicate balance to keep everyone happy. There are lots of what Facebook call ‘signals’ which help to decide what they think may be relevant to each user. We know that the key signals in deciding what is in News Feed are who posted content, what type of content is posted, the number and type of engagements with that content and when the content is posted.

The latest updates include new signals to show users more authentic and timely stories, plus adding more value to video completion rates.

Pages that are posting spam, consistently trying to game feed (asking for Likes, Comments, Shares) or have their posts hidden by users, may be in trouble. Facebook could deem that the content those Pages (Brands) post isn’t authentic, which will only have a negative impact on its News Feed status. On the flip side, if the new signals judge a post to be authentic, it may show up higher in users’ News Feed. As an aside, Facebook’s high-profile attempts at clamping down on fake news is likely to be a long, on-going process using some sort of AI/human verification process. It’s a major topic on the wider news agenda so FB are ploughing major resource in to fighting it and improving the overall authenticity of the site.

A lot has been made in the past about posting content at a specific time. As mentioned, Facebook’s algorithm has been updated to weight other signals more heavily in deciding what’s relevant, meaning there’s less focus on content having to be posted at a specific time of day (who posted, type of content etc). However, the new ‘real time’ update is designed look at how signals change on the fly. For example, if lots of people engage on a particular post or topic in a short space of time, Facebook may judge that it would be temporarily more important to you. A recent example of where this would have come in to effect could have been with the SuperBowl which captured the attention of 60 million people on Facebook, who created over 200 million posts, comments and likes.

Video is just one of the many types of content that a user, or brand, can post and Facebook wants to organically serve relevant videos to users. With regards to News Feed rankings, it has taken in to account whether it’s Live, how long it’s been watched for, whether people turn sound on or opt to view full screen. Now (finally), it’s giving more weighting to completion rates. This means that if you watch most (at least half) or all of a video, you’re telling FB that you find it compelling as completing (or getting to halfway) on a longer video is a bigger commitment than with a shorter one. Facebook is therefore weighting completion rates more heavily the longer the video is to avoid penalising longer videos. This is also good news for users who enjoy watching long-form videos as they’re now likely to see more in their News Feed.

Here are some things to take from these updates:

1. Make your content relevant to your audience – this is always the message. Don’t get lazy and add to the noise. Think about whether it’s authentic or telling a meaningful story. Ask the question: is this going to add value to my audience?

2. Make use of Paid – it’s hard to cut through the noise and sometimes it’s not enough to make what looks like good content on paper and expect it to perform exactly how you hoped organically. Paid is a good way to target a specific audience in News Feed, but you’ve still got to make sure they’re seeing relevant content.

3. The ideal length of a video is whatever time is required to tell a compelling story that engages with your audience. Look at your analytics to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

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