CommonSense Blog

Facebook’s Revamped Newsfeed Algorithm and Balancing Promotional vs. Non-Promotional Page Posts

By StephanieNordstrom | Sep 24, 2013

Facebook recently announced changes to their Newsfeed Algorithm which are designed to provide users with higher quality content in their feeds. The new machine learning system was built after surveying a group of Facebook users and utilizes more than a thousand metrics to determine post quality (e.g., hiding a post, liking a post, clicking a link etc.). Brands need to understand these changes to deliberately drive regular and consistent fan engagement, increasing likelihood of appearing in News Feeds and improving reach through their posts.

Why is it so important to stay in the News Feed?

  • 40% of the time spent on Facebook is in the Newsfeed and only 12% is spent on brand pages (comScore)
  • Brand status updates only appear in 4-17% of fans’ News Feeds. Brands can increase the percentage of News Feeds they enter by increasing engagement on each post

How does Facebook determine what makes it into the News Feed?

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is constantly changing, but the multiple iterations of the algorithm have placed emphasis on the following:

  • Affinity – Unique to each fan and their relationship or connection to the page. How often do they interact with the content you post? Do they typically interact with images, photos or links? New feature in algorithm adds higher weight to most recent 50 users who interacted.
  • Weight – How much engagement is the post getting? A share is worth more than a comment, which is worth more than a like. As posts receive more engagement, they hold more weight and are bumped up in the algorithm.
  • Time Decay – The longer a post has been up, the more it becomes “old news” and loses traction. This is why it’s important to post at the optimal time, and ensure that engagement is high enough to compensate for time decay. Although new algorithm tweaks have decreased the importance of time decay, and placed more importance in weight and affinity.
  • New algorithm tweaks include factoring in how complete the Page profile is, whether the fan base overlaps with that of other high quality Pages, relationship settings, device and technical considerations, post types, recent interactions w/ users, and other complex measures that seem to be dynamic based on engagement.
  • Historical Newsfeed Algorithm scores affect future posts. It is important to keep continually high engagement and balance with non-promotional posts so that when it comes time for a promotional post, it is automatically seeded higher in the News Feed.  Too many promotional posts will never be seen.

What works for successful pages?

Brands should create a balanced ratio of posts that encourage participation (comments, likes, shares), reward behavior (shout-outs, link-baiting, etc.) and speak to passion-areas (original content that feeds into fan interests).  These pages have the best opportunity to “break through” and be seen by the larger population congregating on Facebook.

Facebook is a shared community for two-way conversation with fans.  If posts are overtly pushy toward sales, fans will become annoyed or lose interest. To positively influence the Newsfeed Algorithm, posts should mix the following:

  1. Be Entertaining & Sharable
  2. Ask for Fan Opinions
  3. Share Brand-Related Content Fans Have Expressed Interest In
  4. Showcase Fan Creations/Activity (Making the fan the star)
  5. Add Value – (Category information, how-tos, coupons etc.)
  6. Increase Mindshare (Fans have other interests.  Remind them about the brand at unexpected times by sharing non-promotional posts that relate to fans’ interests that have nothing to do with the brand.)

Why do fans unlike a brand page or hide posts?

  • Content is not interesting or irrelevant
  • It is too promotional – the post feels too pushy (especially in a place like Facebook where fans generally use the channel to visit with friends)
  • The brand posts too often – no one wants to be flooded with too many posts

W2O Group has partnered with leading brands to optimize channel management and develop content that is both compelling and on message. With a foundation in analytics and measurement, W2O Group’s clients benefit from nimble, strategic consultation that improves reach, engagement and fan growth on all social media channels.