Facebook to prioritize friends and family posts with News Feed ranking change

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 5 Jul, 2016
View comments Social Media
Facebook has revealed that an upcoming change to its News Feed algorithm will prioritize updates from friends and family members – a development that could seriously impact on the visibility of posts made by business pages.

A similar update was made last spring, with the social network saying it would show updates from friends (images, status updates, links and similar) higher up in News Feed. The latest ranking change builds on this previous amendment, with Facebook saying that some users were concerned they were still missing updates from friends they care about. 

With the upcoming algorithm, Facebook will address this concern by prioritising posts from Facebook friends. In a post last week, Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management, News Feed was emphatic about the need to make the change, writing: 

Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. That is still the driving principle of News Feed today. Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why if it’s from your friends, it’s in your feed, period — you just have to scroll down. To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. We learn from you and adapt over time. For example, if you tend to like photos from your sister, we’ll start putting her posts closer to the top of your feed so you won’t miss what she posted while you were away.

The new look ‘friends first’ News Feed algorithm is welcome news if you are a Facebook user frustrated about having to scroll past a ton of brand updates and senseless filler posts to find updates, posts and pictures from your close friends and family. But what if you are a business owner, social media manager or digital marketer who relies on Facebook likes and shares to drive traffic back to your site? 

With Facebook categorically stating that it will put updates from friends users care about higher up in their News Feed, the logical conclusion is that news and brand posts will drop. This drop is likely to have a significant impact on organic reach - meaning less social exposure, a stunted reach and a potentially much smaller audience for content that has been painstakingly created or curated for social sharing. From a brand viewpoint, you might be wondering if it’s even worth keeping your Facebook page updated at all. The answer is yes. While much has already been made of declining organic reach on Facebook (you may have already noted fewer post views and likes) there are a few rays of hope. 

So, what can you do to make the best of a shifting playing field? 

Inform your audience

Facebook consumer research has confirmed what the best social media marketers already knew – users like to see content that informs them. As a business or publisher, this is your hint to focus on posts that are meaningful, informative and useful to your audience. Think less sales posts, more carefully curated, valuable content – talking points, news stories and updates that will genuinely resonate with your audience. 

Be impactful

There is a large degree of personalization on News Feed, with the platform constantly trying to learn what a user likes and engages with, and then showing more of those same kinds of posts as a result. Of course, not everything you post will elicit the same reaction from everyone so the onus is on you to continue to strive to create truly impactful and informative updates. 

Be creative and entertaining

Facebook gives users certain controls such as the ability to hide posts from users they no longer want to see updates from. This puts added pressure on you to be creative, entertaining and informative and stay true to your brand values and audience interests. If a person hides a story, they are less likely to see a post from you in their News Feed next time. This means all social posts need to be carefully thought out and precisely tailored to audience interests. 

Be analytical

The News Feed update will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks which means now is a crucial time for a period of reflection. Use your Facebook analytics to begin this process. Look at which posts have received the most interaction – what type of content was this? What time of day was it posted? Which hashtags were used? Use this insight to develop a clear understanding of what your audience actually wants from you and use this knowledge to develop similarly appealing content in the future. 


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