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Facebook’s “Relevancy Score” is a thing and you need to understand it

Oh, 2018: You devil you. First Facebook says this. Then THIS. And then, later, this. What a ride this year has been. And it’s only 1/12th over!

The Zuck has had a lot to say recently about what News Feed was, is, and will be. Recently I listened in on a presentation that clearly sums up what this media media storm is all about. TL;DR – none of it is terrible unless you’re a terrible publisher.

Here’s the score

First, Facebook considers the available inventory. This is a giant pile of all the things your friends and your publishers have posted; the publishers you’re subscribed to, specifically.

Second – and this is the important part – “Who posted this story?”

Who are you?

The “who” here is immediately broken down into two major groups: Profiles and Pages. Under the new rules, posts made by Profiles (read: people) come first. Is it a post by your locker partner from the 8th grade who earned a pity-Like seven years ago and you haven’t commented on a single post he’s made since? He is officially more important in your News Feed than The New York Times simply because he is a person and you are Friends with him. Congratulations Larry.

I see an emoji in your future…

Larry’s importance – or lack thereof – is then offset by the delicate and ever evolving “prediction” element that is learning how likely you are to comment (or interact at all) with this post. This is where you as a local news provider have a chance to get your head above water. You can read here about developing post strategies that encourage organic engagement.

After all is said and done, Facebook assigns a Relevance Score to your post.

So can I see my Relevance Score?

Facebook says no, you cannot. Why not? They explain that the Relevance Score isn’t the only metric that goes into the secret blend of herbs and spices that dictate what your readers will see first. It’s a very important metric, but there are other mystery elements involved. 

News Feed ranking uses many signals. The most important signals, as illustrated above, are prioritized in blue.

What should I do?

Well first off, don’t panic. Mark Zuckerberg himself promised that Local News is going to get special attention in the News Feed moving forward. Indeed Facebook has already rolled out a change that gives more attention to news and media pages to users in the same relative area/market as you. (Be sure your Page’s address is filled out in your profile.) This change was rolled out last week.

Facebook tells us you need to promote meaningful interactions. Stories can help start conversations between people and among your page followers. Video is really good for this, and Live Video even more so. Facebook says that Live Video tends to drive six times more MSI (meaningful social interactions) than regular video posts.

Here the publisher promoted MSI by using her personal profile to ask people to ask questions during the Live event and continued to answer viewer questions even after the event ended.

Focus on your audience. Use your metrics clues in the SND Post Manager and SND Analytics Widgets to learn what kinds of content resonates with your audience. Use those post types to build a community in Facebook.

And, of course, avoid engagement bait.

What’s next?

At Facebook, they like to always say they’re “1% done.” There’s always more to develop, more to tweak, more to create. Which is often why they don’t give much information on how the News Feed algorithm works; it changes too often. The Relevance Score is influenced by location (is the news source local?) and reputation (is the news source trustworthy?). These two elements are already in motion, with the location informed by the Page profile and the reputation informed by simple two-question polls that recently started. There will be third element, not yet launched, that will directly ask users on a post-by-post basis whether or not the content they just read is “informative.” Look for more details on that in the months to come.

Keep it up

So again I’ll say, none of this is bad news so long as you don’t create “bad news.” The readers are about to have more control over the content they see from you. Present your stories in a way that promotes meaningful social interaction and keep writing content that informs, entertains, and doesn’t bait.

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Ryan Morris

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