Five things you need to know about Facebook’s tweaks to its News Feed

22 Apr 2015

The world’s biggest social network Facebook has tweaked its News Feed to show more status updates from friends over liked stories. The implication is that brands and publishers could see referral traffic fall off.

There are three updates to the News Feed algorithm that prioritise posts from friends. Facebook has warned that reach on the social network might decline for some pages.

The overall thrust of the changes is about giving users what they want – more relevant and interesting content – but this could jar with what brands want: reach and traffic.

The changes mean that more than ever brands and media players will need to adhere to Facebook’s best practices for posting.

1. Mixing up Facebook News Feeds 

Facebook says the move is about striking a balance to ensure News Feeds are more interesting, with a good mix of updates from friends and public figures. “This balance is different for everyone depending on what people are most interested in learning about every day,” explained Max Eulenstein, product manager at Facebook. “As more people and pages are sharing more content, we need to keep improving News Feed to get this balance right.”

2. Improving user experience and content

The first change is all about improving the experience for people who don’t have a lot of content available to see. “Previously, we had rules in place to prevent you from seeing multiple posts from the same source in a row. With this update, we are relaxing this rule,” explained Lauren Scissors, user experience researcher at Facebook. “Now if you run out of content, but want to spend more time in News Feed, you’ll see more.”

3. Keeping up with posts you care about

The second change is about ensuring people don’t miss important updates from the friends they care about, things such as photos, videos, status updates or links will be higher up in News Feed so they are less likely to miss them. “If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed,” Eulenstein said. “This update tries to make the balance of content the right one for each individual person.”

4. Seeing less ‘like’ notifications

The third change could be a very welcome one for Facebook users who are weary of seeing a notification every time a friend likes or comments on a post. “This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked,” Scissors said.

5. Pushing audience out of brands’ reach? 

The big fear for brands and publishers is that their reachability across Facebook will decline. Facebook has acknowledged that this may be the case depending on the composition of a brand’s audience and its posting activity. It recommends that overall pages should continue to post things their audience finds meaningful and continue using Facebook’s page post best practices.

Social News Feed image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years