The past year has been a busy one in the evolution of Facebook’s News Feed. There have been a number of updates – small and large – that have contributed to a better overall experience for Facebook users, but ever-declining organic reach for the brands attempting to connect with them.
Wondering where all your impressions went this year? You’re not alone. In order to make sense of the changes that have led to the current state of affairs for business Facebook pages, we’ve put together a simple infographic that tracks the timeline of the News Feed evolution over the past 12 months. Check it out below, and keep reading for details on each update!
Facebook’s research indicated that users were growing weary of the barrage of “click bait” headlines designed to grab their attention. While views on this kind of material were predictably high, users often felt duped upon clicking through since the headlines were poor predictors of what they would actually find. In order to improve the user experience, Facebook now limits the reach of this kind of content.
If you’re looking for examples of click bait-style headlines, try Weather.com. Today’s front page features items like “He Checked His Mirror; He Couldn’t Believe It Was Following Him.”
To keep the News Feed full of fresh and engaging content, Facebook updated the algorithm to analyze the timeliness of posts. Now stories that are trending (getting lots of mentions across the network) will show up above other content, when it might otherwise have been shown below your friends, or other content you typically engage with.
Facebook took steps to reduce the amount of what it called “overly promotional content” in the News Feed by adjusting the algorithm to de-prioritize content that exhibited any of three characteristics.
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
In response to user feedback, Facebook tweaked the algorithm to surface more posts from friends and family, pushing content shared by brands further down in the News Feed and decreasing organic reach. Another blow that came along with this update was that stories about friends interacting with other pages now show up less often, if at all, inhibiting page discovery.
But the news wasn’t all bad for brands – there was also a change that made it possible for a user to see multiple posts from the same source if they do not have a lot of other content in their feed.
It’s no secret that Facebook has doubled down on video as the next big trend in social media. To that end, the platform has taken a keen interest in learning what kind of videos should be given highest priority in the News Feed. Their research led to updates that take into account new factors when considering engagement beyond the traditional measures of likes, comments, and shares. These include:
- Turning on the sound of an auto-play video
- Making a video full-screen in the browser
- Enabling high-definition for better quality
In what was probably the boldest News Feed improvement initiative of the year, Facebook most recently turned over control to the users themselves. This latest update introduced new tools (mostly found on the mobile app version) that help users tailor their feed to their preferences by hand, instead of trusting the algorithm to do it for them. You can read more about the details of this change and how brands should respond in this article we shared.
Did you notice big changes as a result of any of these Facebook News Feed updates? Tell us about them – good, bad, or ugly – in the comments below!
About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.