Facebook announced a handful of changes to its News Feed feature last week. The changes are intended to result in more user engagement. I’ll recap the News Feed changes and share some other Facebook facts I find interesting.
Change #1 – Story Bumping
This change allows content that wasn’t previously viewed to re-appear in one’s News Feed. So, if I post a status update at 9am, a follower check their News Feed at 9:10am but stops scrolling before getting to my update, there will now be a chance for that 9am post to appear in that follower’s feed when he/she checks Facebook again at 1pm. Pre-release trials showed a considerable increase in user engagement (likes, comments, shares) resulting from story bumping. Think of it in the same way as your ability to watch a TV show when it’s being shown as a rerun after missing its original airing. Also, contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, Facebook clearly states paid content in the News Feed will not be affected by this change.
Desktop Facebook users should already see the Story Bumping happening, mobile users will soon.
Change #2 – Last Actor
This function is Facebook’s way of using the past to predict the future. Your News Feed is customized, in part, by your last 50 interactions. If you like a friend’s status update about a morning workout, the greater your chances of seeing updates from that friend later in the day. This feature is already active.
Change #3 – Chronological Order
This change is still a work in progress. We all know when major TV events occur, related traffic on social networking sites rises too. Facebook engineers are still working on how to display content from connections that post a series of updates in a short amount of time. For example, if the most recent update from a friend references something stated in a previous (yet unseen) post, that most recent update is going to be confusing for the user. The issue is figuring out to avoid displaying updates with a lack of context.
Other Items Of Interest
* Facebook has launched a blog detailing News Feed changes (see it here)
* On average, 20% of possible News Feed items actually make it to a user’s News Feed
* Only 57% of items in one’s News Feed are typically seen
* Facebook testing teams meet every Tuesday to discuss possible changes, then conduct tests on discussed items (source: Forbes)
* Every piece of content uploaded to Facebook is given an electronically determined score, helping determine whose News Feed it will appear in
* Algorithms prevent updates from a Page user from reaching more than 15% of its fan base (in other words, pay up if you want to reach more of your followers) (source: Business Insider)
* Facebook shares case studies of successful small business efforts here
I give Facebook credit for continuing to improve user experience while also trying to monetize the platform. It seems Facebook wants to reward marketers for making QUALITY posts, not those who post often just for the sake of posting. I believe these most recent changes will be beneficial to both those using Facebook to stay in touch with people and those using it as a marketing platform. Now, if Facebook engineers can improve the relevancy of the paid ads that pop up in my News Feed, I’d say their job is nearly complete!