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With upwards of 1.8 billion people around the world active on Facebook, it’s still the major player in terms of social media audience volume. There’ve been some big changes to the news feed recently, so we thought it would only be fair to update you on what’s changed and how your business can adapt to stay ahead of the curve. We’ve compiled the things you need to know about Facebook’s latest news feed updates all in one place.
…a misleading link that directs users to a low value page with poor user experience
will probably be classed as clickbait and suppressed from the news feed.
How is the news feed organised?
Starting with the 101, Facebook controls the content shown in the news feed with an algorithm. It is essentially a set of rules run in a sequence to calculate an outcome. Just as Google had their PageRank algorithm to determine the order of search results, Facebook had EdgeRank to control the news feed. As times have moved on the terms for both those technologies have been retired, at least from the public view.
The Facebook algorithm still aims to deliver the most relevant and interesting content to the user, but there is now a collection of over 100 different signals that generate a relevance score. This determines if and where a post appears in the news feed of the audience. Factors such as past performance of posts from your page, the user’s previous engagement with content from your page, the type of content shared and reactions of similar users to a post all contribute to news feed positioning.
What’s changed in the Facebook news feed?
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that ‘false news is harmful to our community’ and set about deploying third-party fact checking teams and improved machine learning to reduce its presence in the news feed. We’ve seen one example where some users are warned before posting a link that it could be a false story. This is undoubtedly designed to target those sharing content they may not know is false (source: Guardian).
Recently, Facebook has also taken steps to reduce the volume of posts and ads that link to low quality web pages. This update is aimed at clickbait and sensationalist headlines from both pages and individuals. The definition Facebook give in relation to clickbait is ‘headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors to click on a link’. While this might seem like exactly the aim of posting updates on Facebook, it’s specifically focused on headlines that deliberately withhold information or sensationalise something. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…” A misleading link that directs users to a low value page with poor user experience will probably be classed as clickbait. There’s a comprehensive guide to clickbait headlines here.
Why does this matter for my business?
A strong base of relevant users who like your page and regularly interact with your updates will keep you best positioned to occupy space in their news feeds. It’s important to maintain this by posting rich content that you’re confident is aligned with your brand and tone of voice.
Publishers that rely on clickbait-style marketing to distribute their content will most likely see engagement drop, which could even mean a slight increase in visibility for quality content.
Facebook are now emphasising the need for rich content even further with the new page update types that are showing below the post update field on a page. Native photos and video have long received more favourable positioning than links to the same content on other platforms, but content options such as events and offers are now becoming more prominent.
We were a bit surprised to see notes popping up there. It’s a bit of a blast from the past but could be a signal that Facebook are looking to increase opportunities for brands to post native content to their page. Notes have been a feature of pages for some time, but the interface was clunky and didn’t offer the chance to post rich content, which the new interface does.
It does look very similar to LinkedIn’s article area, so maybe Facebook have taken a leaf from LinkedIn’s book and are trying to emulate their success with articles. We’ll keep you posted as we experiment with this feature.
Author: Sarah Gill
Sarah is the Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy at AB... and enjoys helping organisations get the most from their marketing activities. With an affinity for a data-driven approach, she specialises in customer and user experience, SEO and PPC management. At the moment, she's really interested in voice search. Sarah is Google-certified in both Adwords and Analytics and has over 10 years experience in digital marketing. She also has an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and joined the AB... team in April 2017.