Facebook’s constant fine-tuning of its News Feed took another step forward with Monday’s announcement that the social network is now using qualitative feedback to deliver the most relevant posts to users.
Software engineers Cheng Zhang and Si Chen revealed in a Newsroom post that all of those surveys about users’ News Feed experiences weren’t for naught, with their results helping the social network to understand what types of posts its users find interesting.
Facebook is also relying on a group of more than 1,000 users that it refers to as its Feed Quality Panel, asking them to rate their experiences on a daily basis and make suggestions on how the content they are served can be improved.
Zhang and Chen wrote:
This means we are able to better understand which stories people would be interested in seeing near the top of their News Feed even if they choose not to click, like or comment on them—and use this information to make ranking changes.
We saw through our research that people reported having a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories that they are both likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with.
We are making an update to News Feed that combines these two signals. News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that you would want to see the story at the top of your feed and the probability that you will like, comment on, click or share a story. We will rank stories higher in News Feed that we think people might take action on, and that people might want to see near the top of their News Feed.
How will the newest change to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm affect pages? The two software engineers wrote:
The impact of these changes on a story’s distribution will vary depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity. In general, this update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of pages. However, some pages may see some increases in referral traffic, and some pages may see some declines in referral traffic. Pages might see some declines in referral traffic if the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed. This update helps rebalance those two factors, so people are seeing relevant stories to them.
In general, pages should avoid encouraging people to take an action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by News Feed’s ranking over time. As this change takes effect, we’ll be learning about what possible factors or posting strategies may lead to increases or declines in referral traffic, and we are committed to communicating with our partners about those findings. Look for updates at our News Feed Best Practices page and in the News, Media and Publishing Facebook group. Overall, pages should continue to post things that your audience finds meaningful and continue using our page post best practices.
Readers: What are your thoughts on the latest change to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm?