Life used to be simple for Facebook business users, just understand EdgeRank and you stood a good chance of visibility and organic growth through engagement with your content. Sadly as most Business and personal users have noticed over the past year or more that the content in our News Feeds is continually changing and sometimes it seems confusing why some posts appear longer then others and why you suddenly get lots of updates from someone you only interacted with once, recently. In fact its even worse for Business Page owners as organic reach is now very hard to obtain.
One of the reasons for all this is that Facebook’s venerable and much talked about EdgeRank system (but not always understood) is no more.
What was Facebook EdgeRank?
Put simply this was how Facebook selected and ranked content that shows up in the News Feed using a very simple algorithm. This then determined which of the countless thousands of posts would show up in a users News Feed and ranked them. Hence the Rank part, the Edge part is the name Facebook gave to any form of interaction; a like, a comment, a share, a photo view and so on.
The algorithm looked like this:
∑e edges Ue We De
- U = Affinity – Score between viewing user and Edge creator ie. how close is the relationship between poster and viewer.
- W= Weight – What type of Edge ie. What action was taken, like, share, comment etc.
- D = Decay – Time Decay based on how long ago the Edge was created ie. Older Edges and content falls down your Newsfeed.
So EdgeRank made you Newsfeed relevant to you, liked a lot of scuba diving content, then thats what you would see most of in your News Feed. Your best friends posts showing over those of the guy from work you only accepted as a friend because you worked on the same project.
Now EdgeRank is no more, instead Facebook uses a much more complex algorithm based on machine learning.
Facebooks News Feed Algorithm
First of all you might be asking why did Facebook move away from EdgeRank. Well the simple answer is that things have got more complex and the way we use Facebook has also grown and changed. Nowadays there are around 1.23bn active monthly users using dozens of different devices to view and share content. There are 25 million active Business Pages (and that doesn’t include those businesses still using a profile!) and all these want to put their post at the top of your newsfeed. Facebook has estimated that the average user could have 1500 stories vying for your News Feed at any given visit. This comes from around 338 friends and 60 Business Page likes for the average user. So Facebook needs some process that decides what to display and I’m sure deep down most users want Facebook to do this sorting for them!
Now Facebook isn’t as open about the new algorithm, but we do know certain things for sure:
U,W,D – Affinity, Weight and Time Decay
These have now evolved to look at much deeper signals with multiple weight levels. Whats measured is how close you are to friends and Pages. Though its not just personal interactions now, Facebook takes a wider view. If we take an update that is seen by 100 people but only 2 interact with it then its likely that it won’t show in your News Feed irrespective of the affinity level you have with the poster. On the other hand if 80 users had interacted with it, it would be more likely to appear in your News Feed.
Post Content Behaviours
We’ve always known that post type is important. Pictures. Pictures. Pictures drive engagement. But now Facebook treats post types with much more granularity. Users who often interact with Video will see more Video posts in their News Feeds and those that like and comment mainly on pictures will see more picture post types. Its no longer global affinity that matters but the individual user.
Non News Feed Behaviour
Its not just about your behaviour on your News Feed, but also on other timelines. You know that person you just had a look at their Facebook time line (not stalking I hope!), and then you start seeing their posts.
How you interact with Facebook Ads can also influence what then appears in your News Feed. But it is worth pointing out that the algorithm that decides what Ads to show you on Facebook is different to the one that decides on your News Feed
For each of your Friends or Pages that you have liked you can amend the relationship settings. Add a friend to the Close Friend list and you will see all their posts and even get notifications. Add them to Acquaintance and you get nothing. With Pages you can also select to “Get notifications” or “Receive updates” and you can also determine what types of posts you get.
Hide Post / Spam Reporting
Although Facebook puts in a lot of effort to make sure you recieve relevant posts in your News Feed, you can always hide or report as spam those that you don’t like. This is then factored in to your News Feed future. There is an element of decay with this though, newer hides will carry more weight then something that you may have hidden a few weeks ago.
What device you use to access Facebook is also factored in; App, Mobile site, Desktop site, Ipad or older feature phone all affect your News Feed. So for example on your super fast MacBook you will see more Picture and Video content, but if you access your account from your mums feature phone via a slow Edge GSM connection then you may see more Text updates.
One of the two newest additions. For me Story Bumping is also one of the most annoying, it takes an old post and gives it a 2nd chance if there is still interaction on it. So if you see a post from 2012 from a friend in your News Feed its probably because another friend has liked or commented on it recently.
The other new addition Facebook tracks a users most recent interactions, in fact its the last 50. These are given more weight when it decided what to display in your News Feed. All this is weighed with a time decay, so the value assigned to the 50 declines once you the user make another 50. A good example of this is a newly accepted Friend Request, you’ll suddenly see there recent updates in your News Feed. Though if you then don’t interact with this person while continuing to interact with others then these posts will rapidly drop away.
Hopefully this gives you a good insight into how Facebook’s News Feed works and how its evolving. In a future article I will look at ways you can as a Business Page get your posts to as many users as possible.
If you have any additional insights to add, I would be happy to hear and update this article.