If you haven’t tried to customise your Facebook News Feed yet, you’ve probably noticed abrupt changes in the posts you’ve seen over the years.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that they’re making the News Feed great again, by putting posts from friends and family first on your feed. Privacy concerns aside, (as you’ll have to tell Facebook who exactly are your family members) this would have been great news — 2-3 years ago.
This change comes as a measure to give users more reasons to be active on Facebook— fewer updates from friends and family means fewer news for everyone. It’s working so far, as Facebook’s monthly active users have been rising since the start of the year.
What Will Happen To Pages?
If you had an inkling that your Facebook Page was doing not-so-well this year, well, that’s simply because you aren’t generating enough organic likes, shares and comments.
Facebook organic reach for pages have been down 42% this year, but that shouldn’t be the end of your Page.
“Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages … For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.” Lars Backstrom, Engineering Director at Facebook said.
Facebook always tells publishers to create relevant and shareable content, and they have clarified what they meant in their release.
The two most important points are:
- Your feed should inform. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting — this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favourite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. We’re always working to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
- Your feed should entertain. We’ve also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. We work hard to try to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.
There are plenty of Pages that provide content on Facebook itself (for example, Facebook Photo Albums), making other Pages which predominantly link out their content less convenient and naturally less appealing to them.
Users Beat Out Advertisers
With their “friends and family come first” News Feed value in mind, Facebook is putting users back in the content driver’s seat.
This change comes as a measure to combat spam Pages as well as the growing black market of social media accounts. As Facebook has yet to comment about Groups, it is likely that they view Groups as part of your own customised experience.
According to metrics from Parse.ly, Facebook is currently the highest referral source to other websites, beating out Google.
The social dimension of Facebook also makes people more likely to care about what news their friends, and possibly themselves, would be affected by.
How You Can Make Your News Feed More Stable
Adam Mosseri, the VP of Product Management of Facebook’s News Feed also stated that “Ultimately, you know what’s most meaningful to you — and that’s why we’ve developed controls so you can customise what you see. Features such as “unfollow,” “hide” and “see first” help you design your own experience — and when you use them, we take your actions as feedback to help us better understand what content is most important to you.”
Without directly using these controls to filter your News Feed, you’re at the mercy of their algorithms picking up your usage habits.
This means that if you have a spike in activity on a Page, you’ll more than likely see much more updates from that Page in particular over anything else.
Want to customise your Facebook feed?
Simply open up your Facebook options and you’ll see something called “News Feed Preferences”. From there, you can go through 4 options:
1. See First:
The people and pages important to you. Starring them means more priority and you’ll see them at the top, regardless of the time of their post.
You can always find more pages which suit your interest so that your News Feed is more useful to you.
You can unfollow the people that are spamming your News Feed, which you can also do with the top-right drop down menu on every post.
More of a check than a step you need to go through, this option is just to see if there’s anyone you accidentally unfollowed.
But Are Users Really Happy?
Some people, social media managers and business owners in particular, have expressed their unhappiness about this change:
All in all, you have to take charge of what you see. Unfortunately, this destroys the element of discovery where you stumble upon less well-known news.
For that, we guess we’ll always have Twitter.