Facebook has introduced a new algorithm to its ranking system that determines which stories appear in users’ News Feeds. After surveying Facebook users to define what makes a post “high quality,” Facebook built a machine learning system that uses over 1,000 factors and signals from users to detect high-quality content so it can be shown higher up in the News Feed.
The good news for brand pages is that if they already have good post engagement, they may see further increases in their reach as a result. In testing, Facebook reported a significant increase in interactions with high-quality posts when they appeared higher up in News Feed.
Another positive aspect for brands is Story Bumping. Facebook is no longer serving up only the stories published since someone last looked at the News Feed but potentially any of the recent stories that the person hasn’t yet seen. The goal is to show more relevant stories, even if they’re a bit older. This makes the post timing less critical, although exactly how much time decay is allowed hasn’t been defined. But, for brands dealing with the multiple audience time zones or agonizing over the best time to post, Story Bumping offers an advantage.
On the negative side, brand pages may find themselves in direct competition for News Feed ranking against other brands with similar content. Under the new algorithm, higher quality wins, so keeping up with, and surpassing, the competition gains even greater importance.
Additionally, the extent to which low-quality posts may adversely affect the reach of subsequent posts isn’t clear, but brands should be mindful of the ripple effect caused by poor posts. And, while the algorithm applies only to organic content, promoted posts should be carefully selected and targeted; if the increased paid reach results in increased hides or reports, those negative user signals may work against subsequent posts and hinder their reach.
The challenge remains the same for brands on Facebook: To consistently create compelling content and build community…The new ranking algorithm may have just raised the stakes a bit higher.
—Jeanette Pham is vice president of Milwaukee-based sosh.