Facebook today announced its latest improvements to the News Feed, focusing on updates from friends and stories about what they’re doing on the social network. In short, the algorithm has been adjusted so you see more of the former and less of the latter.
First of all, Facebook says the News Feed now puts more emphasis on content (photos, videos, status updates, and links) posted directly by “the friends you care about.” As such, these status updates should start to appear higher up in your News Feed.
Facebook explains why it made this change:
We’ve also learned that people are worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there is a lot of content for them to see each day.
While this may seem obvious, Facebook notes that many users like to read news or interact with posts from pages they have liked. This content will still show up in the News Feed; today’s update will simply try to be more strict about making “the balance of content the right one for each individual person.”
Second, Facebook says stories about friends liking or commenting on a post will now appear lower down in the News Feed. The company says they may not even show up at all, putting more emphasis on posts directly from friends and pages you have liked.
Facebook says many users told the company they simply don’t like these stories. We have to agree: While some are mildly interesting (oh really? My high school friend Joe Blow is having an argument about goats on Facebook with someone I’ve never heard of?), most of them are completely irrelevant.
Finally, Facebook used to have rules to prevent you from seeing multiple posts from the same source in a row. This is being relaxed for those who don’t have many Facebook friends and liked pages, so they can “spend more time in the News Feed” instead of simply running out of content.
Page owners might be worried how these updates will impact their reach and traffic. As Facebook explains, “the impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.” In other words, there’s no easy way to predict whether it will go up, stay flat, or go down.
“Referral traffic to media publishers from Facebook has more than doubled in the past 18 months and we’re always looking for ways to optimize how content is discovered and consumed,” Facebook engineers Max Eulenstein and Lauren Scissors said in a statement. “Media content is a key part of the experience for people on Facebook and we’re committed to helping publishers find the right audience for their content.”
Facebook’s only advice is to keep posting “things that people find meaningful.”