We always give Google guff about how mysterious their updates are, but Google doesn’t stand alone in the convoluted update realm. Facebook has been going toe to toe with the search juggernaut lately, updating their news feed at random and delivering content according to their mysterious EdgeRank. Now, we know roughly how EdgeRank works, just like we know roughly how Google’s algorithm works, but it was confusing why they obfuscated it at all. For Google it makes sense, you don’t want people gaming the system, but Facebook is a social networking site, so why should it matter? Apparently, Facebook has decided that, in the end, their secrecy doesn’t matter, at least as far as the main feed is concerned. They are going to start publicly outlining each update to their news feed, showing what the changes are and how they affect use. Will they reveal enough to actually help with social media marketing?
Let’s take a look.
Here is what Facebook has to say about the update:
“We are continually working to improve News Feed and from time to time we make updates to the algorithm that determines which stories appear first. We’ve heard from our users and page owners that we need to do a better job of communicating these updates. Starting today, we’re going to try and change that. News Feed FYI blog posts, beginning with this one, will highlight major updates to News Feed and explain the thinking behind them.”
The first change they cite is a “story bumping”. Apparently this update shuffles the order we see stories, so that you aren’t viewing them in purely chronological order. They’ve been doing variations of this for awhile now, but now they’re specifically delivering old but socially-popular content that someone logging in but not scrolling down may have missed in the past. Here is a graphic they created to illustrate the idea:
Does this matter? Apparently it does. According to Facebook, the change resulted in a “5 percent increase in the number of likes, comments and shares on the organic stories people saw from friends and an 8 percent increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw from Pages.”
That’s a pretty good boost on signals to pages. Of course, your post has to be popular in the first place if you want to receive this boost. It’s becoming more important than ever to really think about what you are pushing out on Facebook. The same tired jokes and memes stolen from Reddit pretty much only work if your George Takei. Your business page needs to be creating content that is of actual value to your followers. Facebook has your back once you get the ball rolling, but you need to be the one to start it all off.