At the end of January, Facebook announced another tweak to their Newsfeed algorithm. This is part of their constant struggle to make newsfeeds more relevant to individual users. The changes this time target three things: the authenticity of content, real-time content, and video completion.
Here's how the changes may affect your Facebook marketing efforts.
Authenticity of Content
Facebook has created new signals to identify authentic content. This harkens back to one of our earlier posts, Why Is My Facebook Reach Decreasing? The Latest News Feed Update. In that post we explored Facebook's efforts to limit spammy, sensationalist content. The January algorithm change builds on those earlier efforts by developing signals will now be used to help identify whether or not a page or a post is authentic and relevant to individual users. Facebook will be looking at signals such as page categorization and actions taken by users in relation to posts from the page in order to make these determinations.
The takeaway for marketers: Posts that are determined to be authentic or more likely to be authentic should theoretically rank higher in the newsfeed.
Facebook wants to provide its users with relevant and timely information that they want to see. To improve this delivery, they have made a few updates to real-time signals. Real-time signals include recent comments made by friends or recent shares. This helps the algorithm to determine the importance, relevance, and, again, authenticity of the content. The new update now takes into account how these signals change in real time. So if your friends are talking about the latest team win, for example, that content will show up higher in your newsfeed, at least temporarily, until the talk dies down.
The takeaway for marketers: Content that is shareworthy and generating interest will get a lot more notice.
Video just keeps growing on Facebook and the algorithms have been changed to recognize that. The latest change focuses on video completion rates, or how much of a video is watched. Knowing this helps Facebook determine how interesting the content is to users and where the video ranks in the newsfeed. Facebook has used video completion rates in the past to rank content, but the old algorithm naturally favored shorter videos simply because they were quicker to get through. The new update examines the percentage of each video watched, not simply the amount of time spent watching a video. This levels the playing field a bit for longer videos. Watching 50% of a 10-minute video will rank higher than watching 50% of a 3-minute video, for example.
The takeaway for marketers: You don't have to limit yourself to short videos. Longer, engaging videos may start ranking higher than shorter videos if they are being watched.
Even more recently, in mid-February, Facebook released another update, which affects the mobile app. There are two changes: NewsFeed videos will now play with the sound on by default and the Facebook app supports vertical videos. Both changes are designed to make videos more engaging for users. Auto-sound is an effective way to garner attention and vertical viewing means videos can be viewed at a larger size, making them more engaging to viewers.
The takeaway for marketers: Marketers can now shoot vertical videos from the start as opposed to modifying horizontal videos after the fact, resulting in potentially more engaging and viewed content. Auto-sound may help shorter videos stand out as they will be able to capture a viewers' attention quickly.
For more information about these changes, click here.
No Big Surprises
We can't say that these algorithm and NewsFeed changes are a big surprise. Facebook has made no secret of the fact that they are always trying to improve the user experience and tailor newsfeeds to individual users. After getting zinged for allowing fake news to become so prevalent in newsfeeds over the course of the last year, it makes sense that the company is looking for ways to establish the credibility of content, which both of the first two updates help to accomplish. The changes to video rankings and the way they are viewed also aren't a surprise as more and more videos, especially live videos, find their way to Facebook and the Facebook mobile app. The company has to find a way to evaluate and rank this type of content; don't be surprised if we see more changes to video in the coming months.
For now, keep on doing what we hope you've been doing, which is to keep posting content that is relevant to your audience, and you should be just fine.