How Does the Facebook News Feed Work

By March 30, 2015 April 25th, 2020 No Comments

Last week we attended the Facebook Developer Conference and listened carefully to the session on the News Feed.  The Facebook News Feed used to be easy to understand… users would see things you posted.  If you friended someone or liked a business page then you would see their status updates.  However, over the past year the Facebook News Feed has become more of a mythical creature who is hard to understand and hard to catch.
Last year around this time, Facebook decided that they would GREATLY limit the number of people who see your organic status updates (organic means they are not paid ads).  In 2012 your post would have been shown to 16% of your audience.  Fast-forward to March of last year and that percentage was slashed to 1-2%.  So for example, if you have 1,000 people that liked your page, only 10-20 people now see that post.  Yes, that stinks.  And since the “boost post” cost is calculated by how many people like your page, that option may be out of reach for some businesses.  Since the slash happened the question keeps being asked by business owners everywhere… “Is there anything I can do to reach more of my Facebook audience?”
Well, during the news feed session we hoped to be able to answer that question and gain more of an understanding of the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide who sees your posts.  In this blog you’ll get an overview of the news feed highlights shared by the experts.  While they didn’t give a step-by-step secret of how to reach more of your audience, I hope these tips help you gain an understanding of their thinking a little more and in turn increase your audience engagement which hopefully will increase your bottom line.

News Feed 101

  • – The news feed is the center part of the Facebook page that a user sees (this doesn’t include the sidebars).
  • – There are two types of stories that appear in the news feed: 1) organic and 2) sponsored.  Organic posts are unpaid status updates and sponsored posts are ads.
  • – Everyone has their own unique news feed.


How Does Facebook Determine What I See In My News Feed?

  • – The experts say the aim of the news feed is so you don’t miss anything that’s important to you.
  • – The items you see on your news feed are ranked by:
    • – Your relationship with the author of the post (Is the author your sister?  Is the author someone who engage with often on Facebook?)
    • – Type of Content (ex: If you watch a lot of videos then Facebook will show you more videos on your news feed.  If you look at a lot of pictures then you’ll see more photos on your news feed than other people may.)
    • – Post Activity (If a post gets a lot of likes and shares then Facebook assumes this status update must be very relevant)

So how exactly does Facebook rank these items?  Well, they took a group of people from all over and showed them different status updates and then asked which one they liked more and why.  Then Facebook compared the answer to the algorithm they currently had to test and see if they had ranked it correctly and worked on their algorithm until it was accurate.   TIP: Before you post something ask yourself, “Would I like this post or would it be clutter on my news feed?”  If you don’t like it, chances are other people won’t either.

Recent Updates from Facebook to Improve News Feed

  • – Baiting – You know the posts that show two pictures and say ‘like’ if you prefer kittens and ‘share’ if you prefer puppies?  These are posts that in the past would have been ranked highly because of the number of likes and shares, but now Facebook tags them as “baiting” posts and ranks them lower.
  • – Hoaxes – No one wants to read a fake news story so Facebook has added a feature where these types of status updates can be reported.
  • – Reducing Overly Promotional Posts –  Even though someone has liked your page they may not want to see “ads” from you.  For example, you have liked a sports team page and you like seeing the scores and posts with photos and team updates; however, you may not want to see an ad from them trying to sell merchandise.


How Do I Reach My Facebook Audience?

  • – Use Page Insights to see what works for your audience.  Which posts get the highest reach and best engagement.
  • – Provide Context.  If you are posting a link to a news article, write a sentence or two about what they will get from the news story.
  • – Be timely.  It’s called a “news” feed because people want to see things that are happening right now.
  • – People don’t like to be tricked.  You may trick them once to click on your post or link, but they won’t fall for it again and most likely you’ll lose a page like altogether.


How Often Should I Post?

  • – You can post more than you think.
  • – Some publishers post dozens of times a day. (Remember that only a small percentage of your audience is actually going to see your post on their news feed.)
  • – Experiment with post frequency to see how your audience responds.


Promoted Post vs. Ad

A promoted post is an ad.  You are just setting it up in a different way.  Promoting a post takes your status update and creates an ad out of it.

Wrap Up

Since the Facebook news feed is personalized and unique for everyone, unfortunately there’s no cut and dry secret to getting your audience to see your posts.  Get in the mindset of your audience.  Do some research and learn what they want to see.  What engages them?  What turns them away?  Everyone’s news feed is unique and everyone’s business Facebook strategy should be as well.  Need some help?  Contact Big City Marketing!