Over the past few days, Facebook has unleashed an overhaul of their news feed that I believe has implications for marketers that go deeper than the surface. With hundreds of thousands of Facebook users revolting, only time will tell how long this particular feature will remain in its current design. In any event, one trend does seem clear. Like the sidebar Highlights that proceeded this particular redesign, Facebook seems to be in favor of delivering content that is based on a user’s prior engagement history.
What has changed?
Prior to this redesign, users would log on and see their home page streaming the most recent updates from all their friends and all the pages they are fans of in reverse chronological order. Now Facebook has changed this landing page to include only the stories they believe the user will be most interested in based on an algorithm that looks at the user’s prior engagement history.
A number of my Facebook friends today were passing on tips on how to configure their settings to see all their updates on their home page proves that there are users who dislike the filtering enough to learn how to disable it. Yet these types of users are not the majority, so any business using Facebook as a channel for delivering marketing messages to customers must understand the implications of the new feed.
Marketing implications of the new feed
The bottom line is that Facebook’s algorithm is determining what level of importance your message is to your fan. Facebook decides whether your message should be included in the landing page News Feed, or whether your fan will need to click on the Live Feed option to find your message with all the others from their friends and pages which didn’t make the cut of importance.
In order for your Facebook messages to be effective, they first need to be seen. You can increase the chances of your messages getting seen by increasing your chances of getting them picked by the Facebook algorithm as important or relevant stories.
Clues to what Facebook deems important or relevant
I will not pretend to be an expert on Facebook algorithms, but observations I have made from studying the updates selected for my own News Feed give me some insight about how updates get chosen.
Criteria I have observed:
- Updates from people I have sent direct messages to recently
- Updates from people I have commented on the most
- Exact keyword match with another status update I commented on
How to use this information
Once you understand a bit about what Facebook looks at, you can then begin to incorporate this knowledge into your messaging strategy.
Do you have more observations to add from your experience? I’d love to learn and pass them along here.