facebook_newsfeed

As you probably know, Facebook doesn’t show every post from the friends and brands you follow. In fact, if the site did, you would be overwhelmed: the average user would be exposed to over 1,500 possible stories each day! To help manage your News Feed quality, Facebook chooses only about 20% of those stories to display.

Today, Facebook announced a change to the way News Feeds (which are hitting their 7 year anniversary) are compiled, and you should definitely start taking note.

Why Care?

From a brand marketer’s perspective, it is incredibly important to understand how Facebook’s algorithm works. According to a 2012 report, the average post from a brand page only reaches 16% of fans. Think about the implications: instead of reaching all of your fans, less than 1 out of 5 are actually seeing what you’re posting. If you have a page with thousands of fans, a small percentage increase or decrease can make a huge difference in exposure.

Unfortunately, it has been hard to completely understand how Facebook decides what to show and what not to, but the bottom line is that they have been continually tweaking this formula to try to give users what will “delight and fascinate” them. When you post something new on your brand page, it gets an individual score for each fan–determined by factors like how often a fan has engaged with your brand’s posts in the past, the number of comments on the post, number of shares, and number of likes. The more a fan engages with your content, the more likely they will see your future Facebook posts.

So What’s New?

Story Bumping

Previously, Facebook’s News Feed was very chronological; it would place an emphasis on new stories that had been posted since a fan last logged in, rewarding mainly recency.

However, Facebook has been rolling out Story Bumping: the News Feed will now show more relevant stories that a fan hasn’t seen, even if the story is a little older. In other words, the stories don’t have to be “new,” but just “new to the fan.” Testing showed the Story Bumping change led to 5% more likes, comments, and shares on stories from friends, an 8% boost in interactions for stories from Pages and public figures, and an increase from 57% of potentially visible stories read to 70%.

What This Means For You:

While optimizing the time of a post to match your audience is still a good idea, it is less important now; the pressure is now on to consistently deliver relevant and valuable content that will stick around for a while and have a longer chance to be read. If you are not being as interesting as the fan’s friends or other brands are, then you will more than likely lose a coveted spot on their News Feed.

Remember that this is highly personal to your audience–if your audience generally likes to engage more with your photos, you should serve up photos more often because they will be higher-scored. The more you can encourage sharing, liking, and commenting on each post–even using tricks like posing a question or having fans vote with their comments–the more you’ll seem valuable on Facebook’s scale in the long term.

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P.S. If you love making data-driven decisions about social media, we’d love for you to check out our product at Encore.

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James Li

About James Li

James Li is the co-founder and CEO of Encore Alert, in charge of customer development, happiness, and sales. He was previously a White House speechwriting intern and the 2013 Georgetown University Entrepreneur of the Year.

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