Facebook announced Wednesday that they are making yet another change to the News Feed algorithm.
The Facebook algorithm is one of the most elusive, controversial and influential algorithms around. The algorithm collects everything posted in the past week, everyone you follow, every Page like and every group you are in and ranks all of the updates in order of how useful or worthwhile you may find each update.
No one outside of Facebook knows exactly how the algorithm works, some content (like live video) is ranked higher and other content is ranked lower and even though you may follow a particular business or publisher you may never see an update from that source.
Facebook stated in a press release that, “the goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. Today, we’re announcing an update to News Feed that helps you see more posts from your friends and family.”
Unfortunately, this means that other Pages (businesses, news sources, etc.) may see a decline in the views of their updates. Showing up in fewer News Feeds lowers the reach of each update and it also reduces the traffic to these websites.
According to Digiday, 41% of all referral web traffic comes from the social network, second to Google’s 48.3%.
This new tweak will impact news publishers and their reach, but it could have an effect on other non-friends/family related sources. It is entirely possible that your business updates may see a decline in reach over the coming weeks.
Organic reach may drop and companies may have a greater challenge getting their messages out.
Adam Mosseri, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook stated, “We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful.”
While the change impacts the news sources in what seems like a move to get more publishers to use the Instant Article feature Facebook introduced last year, it seems this may also be a move to get more businesses to advertise on the site. Paying to promote a post and get it into the News Feeds of followers or running an ad campaign may be the way businesses get their messages out after not making the cut to show organically.
Rich Gordon, Professor and Director of Digital Innovation at Northwestern University, told USA Today that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm could treat online profiles of news outlets differently than they would celebrities or other public organizations.
“There is a reason to treat publishers’ pages differently from other brands pages,” Gordon said. “I feel Facebook pulled a bait and switch because when they first allowed you to like a publishers page, I think the clear message was ‘like this page and we will keep you informed when we have something interesting that we are publishing,’ and Facebook upset that apple cart very quickly.”
In addition to the announcement regarding the algorithm tweak, Facebook also released a press release explaining their “News Feed Values” in great detail, explaining that when they make changes to the News Feed they rely on a set of core values.
The implications of this new tweak for non-publisher/news sites is still as elusive as the actual algorithm itself. However, time will tell how business and organization updates from will be affected.
In the meantime, if you want to compete with those baby photos and cat videos it is even more important to post updates that your audience will want to see and post updates often, that has not changed. Keep an eye on the reach of each update. If you find your reach is declining you may want to rethink your strategy and reconsider your advertising budget.