Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is as heavily guarded a secret as the recipe for Coca-Cola, what’s at Area 51 and who the Carly Simon song “You’re So Vain” is really about, so any time that Facebook makes changes it’s bound to make waves. Facebook announced changes to the News Feed algorithm this week focused on Friends’ activities, timely content, and resurfacing stories. Will it be welcomed news or will it be New Coke?
Content that references trending topics will be shown as soon as they occur so users can see what their friends and favorite pages have to say about the most talked about stories of the day. This makes sense in the case of television, sports or events. Users will want to see people running commentary from their friends and favorite pages about an awards show or posting event as it’s happening instead of the next day. Facebook mentions that timely stories about trending topics are seeing a 6% increase in engagement (defined as people sharing, liking, commenting or clicking on the stories). It should be noted that any statistics are coming from the Facebook announcement post for reference.
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The News Feed will show content based on the rate of engagement. This is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, because engagement can’t happen if content isn’t shown and Facebook is saying that it’s not going to show content as often if they aren’t seeing engagement. To clear up (or cause more) confusion, we’ll quote Facebook on this.
If people are engaging with the post right after it is posted, and not as much a few hours later, this suggests that the post was most interesting at the time it was posted, but potentially less interesting at a later date. Based on this signal, it is more likely to appear higher in News Feed earlier on and lower at a later date.
This is specifically about content that is seeing high engagement but hasn’t been seen because a user hasn’t scrolled down in the News Feed. This is an update to a change in the News Feed in August of 2013. If You miss a post that Facebook thinks you should see, it’ll get bumped closer to the top of your News Feed.
There you have it. The latest changes in the Facebook News Feed, September 2014 edition. The main points to takeaway is that timely content and highly engaged content are what Facebook is highlighting with these changes. According to Facebook, these changes will be rolled out gradually and pages shouldn’t see “significant changes in distribution.”