Soon after the Facebook platform launched two years ago, developers became familiar with the concept of news feed optimization: modifying news feed stories to increase the likelihood of them appearing. The process for developers to publish feed stories has been modified significantly since then and developers are now welcoming a return to the feeds. While many users are complaining about the proliferation of annoying feed stories from quiz applications, the only person to blame now is a user’s friends.
News Feed Optimization Becomes User Story Optimization
Previously, getting a news feed story into a user’s primary feed was partly art, partly science, and mostly luck. Now the only deciding factor of a story being published to a user’s feed is their friends. If any of your friends decide to publish a story it will end up directly in your news feed whether you like it or not. The only way to block those stories from being visible is by blocking a user or an application completely.
The focus has shifted from trying to determine Facebook’s feed algorithm to determining what users are most likely to publish. This is best for both developers and users. Developers get to focus on creating applications that users are most likely to share with their friends and users get unfiltered access to information their friends are sharing.
For those developers that optimize their applications for “maximum sharing potential”, the results can be staggering. Living Social continues to experience massive growth, surpassing over 14 million users, growing over 100 percent over the past week. Quiz Monster, the developers responsible for the surge in news feed quiz presence since the redesign, has grown over 44 percent in the past week alone.
Whether or not you like the application stories that are showing up in your feed, the only people you have to blame are clever developers and your friends, who chose to publish those stories to their feed. Previously there were few limitations on what feed stories could include but now Facebook appears to be clamping down on what is a Kosher feed story and what isn’t.
There Are Still Limitations To Feed Stories
Last Wednesday, in an article related to Twitter’s growth, I suggested that Facebook was planning on “eliminating call to action images from feed stories”. As of Friday that change was announced. Facebook states that “any call to action in a Feed story must be formatted into an action link”. So far it appears to be slightly stunting some of the top applications’ growth but not eliminating it.
A feed story can only get you so far though. If the application doesn’t work well, it becomes much more challenging to get users to publish feed stories. Despite the challenges though, many developers are celebrating the new design as it finally grants greater access to the feed, something that was previously impossible to get access to.
If you are an application developer that’s currently building on the platform or through Facebook Connect, you should spend some time determining what feed stories users would want to publish. As a user do you like the increased presence of feed stories? If you are a developer, what experience are you having with the new feed stories?