Understanding Facebook's Newsfeed algorithm


Understanding Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm

Facebook are regularly making changes to the way you see content on your newsfeed and I know I’m not alone in sometimes being bit frustrated this happens and this is why…

These changes are frequent and each time you think you’ve got your head around the last set of changes they go ahead and update their algorithm so you need to re-learn and re-understanding how to get the most engagement and reach for your Facebook Page.

In fact, and in all honesty, each change they make is to give you a better experience and bring the content which matters most to you to the top of your timeline.

But people are wary about Facebook updates to their timeline, as they are with the Instagram and Twitter algorithm updates. That said, I think the main Facebook change which people struggled with was when it moves from a simple chronological list to this algorithm and this shook things up completely.

You see, Facebook uses engagement actions such as likes and comments to learn about what content you do & don’t like. Ever find yourself wondering why you see lots of posts from Joe but none from Bob? Well, that’s not because Joe posts more to Facebook than Bob, it’s just that historically, you’ve engaged with Joe’s posts and not with Bob’s and so Facebook’s given Joe’s posts the priority on your timeline.

This happens with all content and whilst it’s not as black & white as that, it does at least show you how Facebook has tried to customise your news feed for you. Granted, it will also consider other measures for popular posts that it wants to show you but underpinning all this is the notion that you’re less likely to see content from people or pages you haven’t engaged with.

And this leads me on nicely to a particular area of interest to me – articles. To explain in detail, and to help you with understanding Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, imagine this scenario…

You follow a page. This page has a blog and they write blogs a couple of times a week which you just love to read. Every time you see them publish a blog you read it and then you move on down your timeline. However, this creates a problem. You read the article and enjoyed it but if you didn’t like or comment on it Facebook doesn’t think you like it. If Facebook thinks you don’t like it then Facebook might show you less content from that page and suddenly you’re having to go rooting around for new articles from your favourite page because they’re not appearing on your timeline.

Not good. So, how do Facebook plan to change this? Well, they’re clever people, right? So what they’ve done is devised an algorithm (calculation) which works out how much time you spent reading content on that page. If Facebook calculates that you spent enough time reading that article to realise that you found it interesting, then content from that page will increase in priority for your newsfeed.

Facebook will now use engagement (likes/comments) and how long you spend reading an article as a way of knowing what you like and prioritising that content on your timeline.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself a hundred questions like “How did they know I liked it?” or “How long do I read it for before Facebook thinks I liked it?”, or “What if it’s a 10 minute article and I read it for 4 minutes, did I like it or not?”.

There are many questions around this and Facebook haven’t shared the full explanation of quite how their update will work. What we do know is they’ll monitor the response they get to understand if it’s working as they intended and we already know that they’ve got some clever calculations in there so that things such as load time aren’t considered.

So that gives a bit of an overview of how Facebook determine what content you see. But what if you own a Facebook Page (business or otherwise), what does this mean for you?

Quite simply this means that the quality of your content is more important than ever. If you are pushing out links to short articles or are simply fishing for visits to your website then you may find this update works against you. However, if you write good content which people want to (and do) read then you should find that your content is shown higher up the newsfeed more frequently.

I hope you find that summary useful. These updates to algorithms are happening frequently so I’ll always do my best to explain them in a way which I think is easy to understand 🙂

What do you think of this change? Let me know!

Speak soon!

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