Facebook reveals the 4 factors that determine News Feed content

A great social media mystery is revealed, as some analytics suggest the reach of brands’ posts is diminishing.


One of the great mysteries of social media was revealed last Friday:

The factors that determine what items appear in a Facebook user’s News Feed.

During a press event last week, Facebook News Feed Product Manager Will Cathcart explained these factors to a roomful of reporters.

TechCrunch‘s Josh Constine was there to document the action
and listed the four items:

If you interacted with an author’s posts before: If you ‘like’ every post by a page that Facebook shows you, it will show you more from that page.

Other people’s reactions to a specific post: If everyone else on Facebook shown a post ignores it or complains, it’s less likely to show you that post.

Your interaction with posts of the same type in the past: If you always ‘like’ photos, there’s a better chance you’ll see a photo posted by a page.

If that specific post has received complaints by other users who have seen it, or the page who posted it has received lots complaints in the past, you’ll be less likely to see that post. This factor became a lot more prevalent starting in September 2012.”

In the September change to which Cathcart refers, Facebook gave its users the ability to click a drop-down link and either hide a post or flag it as spam. According to Cathcart, Facebook started penalizing those with a high amount of complaints and rewarding those that had few or none.

Cathcart said the “median impact” of this alteration was “unchanged.”

A number of people, including many social media managers who have looked at his or her company’s Facebook metrics over the last couple of months, would likely disagree.

Analytics firm SocialBakers said the average reach of a page dropped by 50 percent, as outspoken entrepreneur Mark Cuban has cried foul, claiming Facebook is making the changes to force brands to spend money on promoted posts. He promised to pull resources out of Facebook marketing due to its change.

Meanwhile, Facebook analytics group PageLever released data showing that small pages reach a much higher percentage of their fans per post than larger brands.

From Business Insider:

“Brands with small fanbases of fewer than 10,000 people can get nearly 20 percent of them to see any individual post. But brands like Coca-Cola and Walmart, who have more than 1 million fans, can only get about 6 percent of them to see any given post—unless they pay.”

The bottom line for brands big and small is that they had better create better content on Facebook, otherwise users will continue to ignore their posts and cause their reach to continue to drop—or else pay a fee to see their posts promoted.

RELATED: The (almost) definite guide to Facebook for brands

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