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News Feed isn’t about “News”!

This may or may not come as a shock, but the fact remains… Facebook’s “News Feed” isn’t about “News” at all. Not “News” in the sense of “journalism” that is. You may have come to this conclusion after some of the changes Facebook made to their News Feed algorithm over the past several months. Would it shock you if I said, Facebook’s News Feed was never intended to be about the kind of news you produce?

Facebook’s News Feed Values

There they are… Facebook’s “News Feed Values.” These haven’t changed, from what we’re told, since Facebook began the News Feed algorithm to determine who sees what and when. I’m one of the few who can remember back in 2004 & 2005 when the college I was attending finally had our .edu domain accepted onto the platform and students could gain access. I remember the newsfeed actually ending. For all you whipper-snappers reading this, I mean you could actually reach the end of the page, because you saw all the latest updates, chronologically. Those days are gone. Now more than 2 billion users are on Facebook, and even more pages & groups. That’s a lot of information. Naturally, Facebook needs to organize all of that information and deliver it in a way that users can see what they need to see and not spend all day going from page to page looking for things they want to see. That’s a bad user experience! Enter News Feed.

Here’s how Facebook defines News Feed: “[It] is made up of stories from your friends, Pages you’ve chosen to follow and groups you’ve joined. Ranking is the process we use to organize all of those stories so that you can see the most relevant content at the top, every time you open Facebook.

“Ranking has four elements: the available inventory of stories; the signals, or data points that can inform ranking decisions; the predictions we make, including how likely we think you are to comment on a story, share with a friend, etc; and a relevancy score for each story.” Want more? Here’s Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of Product Management, detailing how it all works. This is important… Give it a watch:

How Does News Feed Work?

Posted by Facebook on Friday, October 20, 2017

 

Now that you know all that… How does your content fit into the News Feed? Just like every other post that goes out on Facebook! Your post goes into the inventory, and how people engage with it, along with all the other signals, determines who is going to see your content (reach). However, the key to all of this is really the first point of Facebook’s News Feed Values above: Friends and Family Come First.

Why “Friends and Family” Matter

When we think about our news content, we usually think of it as “this will get clicks to our site.” That’s not a bad thought process. However, the question you should be asking yourself is, “What are people going to talk about related to this post?” or “How will people react to this story?” You need to start thinking about your content from an engagement standpoint because those engagements are how your posts will start appearing in News Feed for people.

“Friends and Family Come First” means the content your friends on Facebook are engaging with will appear in your News Feed more often. The more you then engage with the content they’re engaging with, the more content like that you’ll see. So, if your friend Bill comments on a story from a local media outlet’s page that you “like”, you’re much more likely to see that post appear in your News Feed with a note that says “Bill McFakename commented on this”. Which draws you into the post, right?

Look at your News Feed. How far down do you have to scroll to see a post that comes from a news source, or any Page (that you’re not following as “See First”)? If I were a betting man, my money would be on the fact that you’ll see a post from a news source that one of your friends shared, reacted to, or comment on before you see an organic post from a page. Why is that? Because “Friends and Family come first!”

How All This Applies to News on Facebook

You have to get people talking about your stories on social media. This all may sound rudimentary, but as we look at local media outlets’ content as we prep for our custom webinars, we see that content & engagement is not always the focus. The focus sometimes tends to be more quantitative in nature, and not quality-driven. If you have a goal to post 50 stories a day on your Facebook page, are you going through 200 potential posts/stories and picking the top 50 that will drive engagement, or are you just filling out the 50 story quota, with little to no regard to the engaging aspects of the story? If you fall into the latter category, I suggest it’s time to change your thinking, or else you’re not going to see any growth, especially with the changes Facebook’s made to News Feed.

Social strategy on Facebook really hasn’t changed amid the adjustments that Facebook has made. It’s always been about posting quality content and engaging your audience. “Quality over quantity” fits here perfectly. Get out of the mindset of “I have to post X many posts a day,” and set goals more along the lines of “I want to get X number of engagements today.” Set the goal high, reach it, and raise it.

Not every story on your website needs to go on Facebook. The stories that would get people talking in the barbershops, around the water cooler, and at the dinner table… those are the stories to aim for. Facebook is the new barbershop, water cooler and dinner table. People come to Facebook to talk about the things that are happening in our world. Get them those stories, and fuel the conversation. You can read more about that on my last post here.

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Derek Drake

Client Strategy Specialist
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