Inside The Facebook News Feed: A List Of Algorithm Factors

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Does this sound familiar: People have liked your Facebook page or followed your profile, and when you post a new update, less than 10 percent of your fans and followers ever see it.

It’s a challenge that many Facebook marketers face. How do you get your content seen on Facebook?

The secret is in understanding the Facebook News Feed and its mighty algorithm. The Facebook algorithm helps make sense of the huge number of potential stories and updates that could come our way, choosing updates to show in our News Feed based on a huge number of factors.

Buffer wants to help you understand how your updates get viewed on Facebook. So they’ve collected all the Facebook algorithm factors, updates, and changes that they can find and placing them here in this post for easy reference.

Read on, and see what goes into the complex, fascinating formulas of the Facebook News Feed.

The Overview of Facebook News Feed Factors

How does Facebook decide what to show in a News Feed? Here are the factors that may determine whether your post shows up or not.

Do this: The algorithm loves …

  • Posts with lots of comments
  • Posts with lots of likes
  • Post types that users seem to prefer more than others (e.g., photo, video, or status update)
  • Posts that reference a trending topic
  • Posts that receive a high volume of likes, comments, or shares in a short time
  • Link posts
  • Videos uploaded to Facebook that receive a large number of views or extended viewing duration
  • Posts that tag other pages within the text
  • Posts that are liked or commented on by one’s friends
  • Posts from pages that one interacts with often
  • Post types that one interacts with often
  • Posts from pages with complete profile information
  • Posts from pages where the fan base overlaps with the fan base of other known high-quality pages
  • Images and videos that have not previously appeared in the Open Graph
  • Links that have not been posted before

Don’t do this: The algorithm is not too keen on …

  • Clickbait
  • Frequently circulated content and repeated posts
  • Like-baiting
  • Posts that include spammy links
  • Text-only status updates from pages
  • Posts that are frequently hidden or reported (a sign of low quality)
  • Posts that contain the words “like, comment, or share”
  • Posts with unusual engagement patters (a like-baiting signal)
  • Posts that receive negative feedback categorizes as “meme content”
  • Posts that are classified as memes by Facebook’s visual analysis of overlayed text on image

Details: How Facebook decides what appears in a News Feed

The total number of comments and likes on a post impact visibility.

The post type—photo, video, or status update—impacts visibility.

The stories that show in your News Feed are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. This helps you to see more stories that interest you from friends you interact with the most. The number of comments and likes a post receives and what kind of story it is (ex: photo, video, status update) can also make it more likely to appear in your News Feed.

(source: Facebook, 2014)

Posts that reference a trending topic may receive higher visibility.

When a friend or Page you are connected to posts about something that is currently a hot topic of conversation on Facebook, that post is more likely to appear higher up in News Feed, so you can see it sooner.

Trending topics appear in the right sidebar of your Facebook News Feed. For timely posts, Facebook may show a “trending” notification at the top of the post.

facebook-trending

(source: Facebook, September 2014)

The timing of when likes, comments, and shares occur on a post impacts visibility.

Currently one of the signals we look at is the total number of likes that a post has received when determining how high up to to show it in News Feed. With this update, we are going to begin looking at when people are choosing to like, comment and share.

(source: Facebook, September 2014)

Clickbait drives down the visibility of a post.
Facebook will show fewer clickbait posts in the News Feed. A couple of ways they determine clickbait include:

  • If a user clicks through to a link and then comes straight back to Facebook
  • If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like or comment on the story when they return to Facebook

(source: Facebook, August 2014)

Link posts receive preference over links shared in photo captions or status updates.

(source: Facebook, August 2014)

The views and viewing duration of videos uploaded to Facebook impact visibility.

This factor does not include videos shared from YouTube, Vimeo, or other sites.

(source: Facebook, June 2014)

Frequently circulated content and repeated posts are shown less.

There are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again. We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them. We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages.

(source: Facebook, April 2014)

Like-baiting posts are shown less.

like-baiting-screenshot

Like-baiting refers to posts explicitly asking users to take an action on the post like commenting, sharing, or liking. These posts tend to get greater engagement but Facebook users don’t associate these posts with quality.

(source: Facebook, April 2014)

Posts that include spammy links are shown less.

By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we’ve been able to better detect spammy links.

(source: Facebook, April 2014)

Tagging other pages within a post may increase visibility.

br_howard-v2-1

When a Page tags another Page, we may show the post to some of the people who like or follow the tagged Page.

(source: Facebook, February 2014)

Text-only status updates from pages are shown less.

the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends … Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.

(source: Facebook, January 2014)

Posts that are liked or commented on by friends may be shown more.

You see stories in your News Feed about your friends’ activity on Facebook, including when your friends like or comment on posts from people you’re not friends with.

You also might see stories in your News Feed about your friends liking or commenting in public groups that you’re not a member of.

(source: Facebook, 2014)

Related articles add an extra opportunity for visibility.

Soon, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles directly below the News Feed post to help you discover more content you may find interesting.

(source: Facebook, December 2013)

4 factors that increase visibility:

  1. How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
  2. The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
  3. How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
  4. Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

In addition to these factors, Facebook also bumps older organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see the first time. These posts can reappear near the top of News Feed if they’re still getting lots of likes and comments.

(source: Facebook, August 2013)

3 elements of pages that may increase visibility:

  1. How frequently content from a certain Page is reported as low quality (e.g., hiding a Page post),
  2. How complete the Page profile is
  3. Whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base of other known high quality Pages

The article on Facebook claims that over 1,000 different factors go into the News Feed system to calculate the score of a News Feed story. Recommendations from the article include:

  • Make your posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with your audience
  • Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

(source: Facebook, August 2013)

Content signals

  • Like-baiting signal: Words such as “like, comment, or share”
  • Like-baiting signal: Unusual engagement patterns
  • Meme content signal: Negative Feedback categorized as “meme content”
  • Meme content signal: Visual analysis of overlayed text on image

From Social Bakers, these factors include some of the proven and theoretical ways that the Facebook artificial intelligence works to gauge the quality of a News Feed post. The above factors would lead to a post receiving lower visibility in the News Feed (like-baiting and meme content are considered low-quality). The below factors for original content would lead to a post receiving higher priority in the News Feed.

  • Original content signal: Has image/video existed in Open Graph before?
  • Original content signal:  Has this link been posted before?

(source: Social Bakers, May 2014)

Old posts stand a good chance of being seen.

imrs

The above chart comes from an analysis by the Washington Post’s Tim Herrera of his personal News Feed. He tracked and charted over 3,200 posts on a single day, posts that came from Facebook friends and pages he has liked. He ended up seeing nearly as many old posts as new posts—and missed out on a huge number of other new posts from friends and pages.

The takeaway: Old content has a longer shelf life in the News Feed than we may think.

Social Media Week

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