Last week, Facebook announced an update to the News Feed algorithm, which now considers how long users spend reading specific content to generate more relevant results. Although the algorithm update won’t necessarily take into account the number of seconds spent reading specific content, it will look at the time comparison users spend reading similar content.
This update follows those that were launched in April. As a result, the combination of the updates may cause a decline in post reach and referral traffic. With Facebook driving 25 percent of all social referral traffic, marketers need to increase their efforts to share relevant and quality information to stay on top of the News Feed.
Updates to Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm
This latest update doesn’t come as any real surprise because Facebook made three changes to the News Feed ranking in April to promote the user experience. The first update allowed users to see more content from the same brand. Previously, Facebook limited the number of posts seen by the same source because they felt people grew tired of seeing the same brands. But, Facebook made the change so people don’t run out of content to view.
The second update came after users began complaining about missing important updates from friends. To resolve this, Facebook updated the algorithm to rank content posted by friends higher in the News Feed to balance the content for each individual.
The final update limited the amount of stories appearing in the News Feed that friends were liking and commenting on. Now, they appear lower in the News Feed to ensure users see posts directly from friends and the pages they’ve liked.
During the release of these updates, Facebook stated, “ Facebook is constantly evaluating what’s the right mix of content in the News Feed. We’re looking for ways to optimize how content is discovered and consumed. 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.”
Their announcement supports their move to further enhance the user experience by implementing the new ranking signal to evaluate the amount of time users spend viewing a story. To surface relevant posts in the News Feed, Facebook will look at how long a user spends reading a specific story when compared to reading other stores to deliver more relevant content to that individual user.
What’s this mean for marketers?
Although Facebook says that page owners shouldn’t see a drastic change in reach from the update, there’s the potential for your content to drop to the bottom of News Feeds if it isn’t relevant.
In the latest update announcement Facebook stated, “The impact of these changes to your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity. In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could decline.”
As the largest social network with over 1.4 billion users, 93 percent of marketers use Facebook in their social media marketing to increase referral traffic. Therefore, it’s critical marketers adopt these new changes to stay on top of the News Feed.
Facebook’s Page Post Best Practices
To boost the visibility of posts with the new algorithm changes, you’ll need to target the right customers with relevant content to appear at the top of News Feeds. To accomplish this, Facebook recommends:
- Posting consistent and meaningful posts to create a targeted message.
- Target your posts to specific demographics, such as age, gender, location, and interests.
- Include fresh images and text to keep people interested.
- Increase referral traffic by including links within the posts and use the “Boost Post“ option.
- Publicize discounts and promotions, but keep self promotional material to a minimum.
This will ensure users see content from brands that they actually want to see to enhance their experience. In addition, marketers should continue to post valuable content that’s relevant to the targeted audience, but craft better posts to avoid overwhelming followers with too much information.
Decrease in Post Reach
If you find that you’re losing your post reach, it’s time to step up the quality of your content, not only on Facebook, but on your website. Plus, you’ll need to improve your website’s social sharing options to encourage people to share your website’s content on their personal Facebook accounts. This then has the potential to reach a much larger audience because the shared posts from friends will appear higher in the News Feed.
As Facebook referrals have increased over 115 percent year-over-year, Facebook remains a strong platform for marketing, but adjustments will need to be made to accommodate the changes. Overall, the algorithm updates shouldn’t impact brands who are already using a solid, tightly focused Facebook campaign. But, for those who don’t post consistently or lack quality posts, they’ll need to step up their game to continue to appear higher in the News Feed or referral traffic will feel the sting.
“News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages” Facebook Media
“News Feed FYI: Taking into Account Time Spent of Stories” Facebook Media
“Facebook Updates News Feed Algorithm Taking into Account Time Spent Reading Stories” Search Engine Journal
“Page Posting Tips and Best Practices” Facebook for Business”
“Facts on Facebook Marketing in the U.S.” Statista
“In Q3, Facebook Drove 4x More Traffic than Pinterest” Shareaholic