What You Need to Know About Facebook’s News Feed Changes

(This post originally appeared on Socialfish

Facebook page admins take note: just when you thought you’d figured out Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, they’ve changed the game and the way News Feed works. That’s the good news, because I’m sorry but anything that requires multiple infographics to explain it is just wrong. However, as Facebook flips back and forth between seeming to cater to users or businesses, this new change, at least at a quick glance, seems to favor user experience over businesses being able to capitalize on Facebook.

Here’s what you need to know about the News Feed changes:

  • Story Bumping. Rather than just displaying new content chronologically, Facebook is introducing a new concept dubbed “Story Bumping” that will  push stories users haven’t seen–even if they’re older–above new stories. It used to be that when a user logged into Facebook, the News Feed considered all updates posted since that user last logged on and show the “best” ones based on their confusing/secret algorithm. That meant that if the algorithm didn’t deem a story to be interesting enough to be at the top, a user would probably not see it….and if that person came back a few hours later, new stories would have been posted on top of it again, so chances are the’d definitely never see it. Now, with Story Bumping,  Facebook doesn’t just take into account what stories have been published since you last looked at the feed, but at all the recent stories you haven’t yet seen, even if they’d been posted earlier but you hadn’t scrolled down that far. This way Facebook figures users will see more relevant updates, even if some are older.
  • Last Actor. This term is totally confusing to me, but I digress. What it means is, apparently, as follows: Facebook apparently tracks the last 50 interactions a user takes on an ongoing basis and uses those as signals to rank their feed in the short term. Last Actor refers to the fact that Facebook will be tracking the last person (actor) a user has interacted with and using that information to help rank future posts by that user in the News Feed. So basically, if you look at a bunch of photos from a friend, you’re not imagining it when suddenly you notice that person’s updates starting to show up more for a few days–that’s Last Actor in action.
  • Chronological By Actor. This feature is apparently Facebook’s attempt to emulate Twitter’s real-time update functionality…while still maintaining the rest of their news feed algorithm elements and claiming not to want to be like Twitter. Chronological by Actor refers to the process of grouping updates from a friend together in chronological order–or, actually, reverse chronological order–with newest on top and oldest at the bottom. While also maintaining other non real-time elements in the news feed to boot, which makes it more confusing…and also explains why this feature is still in development and announced as coming soon but not available yet. Here’s a more comprehensive, better explanation than mine if you want more detail.
  • More Transparency. This is not a new feature but, rather, a new (alleged) commitment by Facebook to being more transparent about the News Feed from here on out. They’ve launched a new blog for businesses geared at providing information about “major updates” to the News Feed and the rationale behind them.

The bottom line is that Facebook remains a moving target for businesses. Facebook wants businesses to spend more money on advertising, obviously, but also states, about these algorithm changes, “For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they’re more than a few hours old.” In other words, the better and more engaging your content is, the longer it will stick around at the top of people’s News Feeds. It also means that EdgeRank work-arounds like my most-loathed Facebook admin trick EVER, ”link in comments,” most likely won’t work anymore so you’ll probably have to adjust your engagement strategy accordingly.

As Facebook rolls out these changes to the News Feed, what are you noticing about the way your page and/or content is performing? Any tricks/tips you want to share or potential issues other Facebook admins should know about?