Why do certain posts receive priority in News Feeds? Why do some post attain massive visibility while others are nearly invisible? We explore the ever-evolving and elusive Facebook algorithm to help you maximize your potential on the platform.
Facebook’s algorithm is a notorious headache for marketers. Always evolving and seeking to improve the Facebook user experience, exactly what comprises a high-ranking Facebook post can be difficult to pin down. Facebook employs a team of dedicated engineers to determine what relevancy on the platform is, and subsequent scores for types of posts. Facebook’s prediction algorithm basically does just that, it attempts to predict which posts will be most relevant to unique users. Obviously, relevancy is highly subjective – what’s relevant to you may be completely irrelevant to your co-worker, brother and college roommate. Facebook’s predictive algorithm assesses historical data based on each unique user’s previous interactions on the network – taking into account hundreds of variables. Essentially, Facebook’s predictive algorithm has the potential to foresee exactly what a user will do when viewing a specific post: like, comment, share, hide, mark as spam or, simply, ignore. Each outcome prediction is then combined together to produce a single relevancy score for each post and users are served posts in their News Feeds based on descending relevancy scores. To put it more simply, the posts at the top of your News Feeds have been predicted (by the algorithm) to be the posts most relevant to you, or most likely to move you to action.
While Facebook’s algorithm is incredibly efficient and sufficient, even the team dedicated to perfecting the News Feed will admit that there’s no way the prediction algorithm can be 100% accurate, because Facebook users, humans, cannot be forecasted with watertight accuracy; part of human nature is unpredictability and spontaneity – it’s part of what separates us from the computers running these algorithms.
Facebook’s engineers have said that it isn’t one large algorithm powering the News Feed, and, in effect, the predictiveness of the News Feed, but rather, a series of small, interconnected algorithms – all with specific functions that serve the greater purpose. Every update or feature that Facebook launches plays into the overarching algorithm. For example, if a Facebook feature encourages engagement or captivates Facebook users’ attentions, then the algorithm will take note of those signals and factor them into the relevancy score. Included below are a few recent Facebook updates that have spurred engagement or proactivity from users and, subsequently, helped the social network continue to determine how best to alter their News Feed to create the most engaging and relevant experience possible.
Sentiments: Facebook recently launched a range of sentiment emojis so that users could better express their feelings about specific posts. While this update garnered a lot of attention, it is not necessarily impacting the News Feed’s algorithm. Facebook has stated that, for now, each emotion will be treated as a like, meaning if a user selects the heart-shaped emoji to indicate love for the post, it will not outweigh the Like selection.
User Controls: Facebook has also recently released updates that give users more explicit control over what they see in their News Feeds. Facebook users can now select up to 30 friends and pages whose posts they want to see appear first in their News Feeds. Being included on a preferred list ensures consistent visibility, regardless of the types of posts published.
Videos: In June 2015, Facebook confirmed speculation that the News Feed would continue to prioritize video by adding more positive signals for videos to the algorithm, including clicks to full screen and activating audio.
The beauty of Facebook’s algorithm is that it is never complete. Facebook is constantly assessing the user experience of the News Feed and strategically tweaking the algorithm to better serve the needs of its user base. As Facebook’s global community of users continues to evolve and make shifts in their lifestyles and approaches to social content, Facebook will attempt to evolve to meet their wants and needs. Just as Facebook will continue to enhance its algorithm, the Socialix team will continue to try to communicate these changes to ensure that your influencer marketing experience is as beneficial as possible.