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Facebook News Feed: fewer memes and more high quality news content, please

13 Jan, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

In December 2013, Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which “stories” are visible on the News Feed. It seems that the social network has begun to prioritise content from sources that users engage with most. Some fear that content from a  ‘liked’ Facebook page will therefore become negligible if it does not engage its readers.

In fact, a week or so after Facebook made its changes, one social media marketing agency, Ignite, analyzed 689 posts from 21 brand pages. Ignite found that in just one week, the number of people who saw posts from those brands declined by 44% on average, “with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%.”

According to the official announcement, Facebook wants to make its News Feed surface better, smarter content that readers are likely to click on. At the same time, Facebook is also hoping to demote ‘meme photos’ and other over-shared links that aren’t considered to be as informative. This means that users will see more, well, news in their News Feed and fewer images and memes. This comes as a complete turnaround to much of the image marketing posts that were highly touted just last year.

We’ll be doing a better job of distinguishing between a high quality article on a website versus a meme photo hosted somewhere other than Facebook when people click on those stories on mobile. This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.

So, how does Facebook define ‘high quality’ content?

The system uses over a thousand different factors, such as how frequently content from a certain Page is reported as low quality (e.g., hiding a Page post), how complete the Page profile is, and whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base of other known high quality Pages.

Facebook will also begin recommending related articles to users who click on a link from their feed. These recommendations will appear below the original post, as below.

It therefore seems that those brand Pages producing good quality, shareable content should actually benefit from the algorithm changes. Indeed, according to Facebook, the impact should be relatively small for most Pages, but those that are seeing good engagement on their posts could see further increases in reach. The bottom line is that Page strategy should still stay the same: produce high quality content and optimise for engagement and reach.

You can do this by focusing on these tips when creating your Page posts:

  • Make posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with the audience
  • Ask, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

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