Social Media: The Truth About Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm Update

31Jan, 2014

Facebook continues to make news and waves on many levels, with many audiences.

And the recent update of the newsfeed algorithm to the world’s largest, widest and deepest social media network has generated a lot of buzz, including much unrest and upset, since the changes went into effect in late 2013.

Facebook had long applied a complicated algorithm (also previously known as EdgeRank) to determine what each of the site’s users sees, and who views that user’s own updates. That algorithm is predicated on what Facebook’s computers think you are likely wanting to see, and factors in an array of factors – including how often you interact with the friend, page or public figure who posted, how much you interacted with a similar post in the past, and the number of likes, shares and comments your post receives.

Or, in the established terminology of EdgeRank: affinity score, edge weight and time decay.

edgerankOf course, like any formula, changes can be made – ranging from major to subtle. And following the most recent tweaking to its newsfeed algorithm, Facebook advised page administrators that using what the social network calls a “link-share” leads to a higher level of engagement than simply embedding links. According to Facebook, a “link-share” is “a link in a status update that generates a preview of the site you’re linking to.” Accordingly, the default setting is now a “link-share.”

The algorithm change also means a Facebook user’s newsfeed is more likely to include meaningful, useful news items – and less likely to include things like memes and photos of cute cats. Facebook’s Small Business people have addressed this increased emphasis on “high quality content” themselves before, including in a blog post this past summer.

And according to some insiders, including the good folks over at Marketing Land, it also means that EdgeRank is dead and buried – with “as many as 100,000 individual weights” in the new model that now produces Facebook’s newsfeed.

Clearly, then, much has changed when it comes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. And now that everyone has had a bit of time to calm down and really absorb these changes, we’re starting to see not just criticism, but also some well-thought-out insights into how to work with the changes.

Here at Fang Digital Marketing, we’re happy to see an increasing shift from unleashing blind moaning to discovering deeper meaning. Because the fact of the matter is, this newsfeed algorithm change was just the latest in a series of recent changes designed and implemented by the world’s most powerful and far-reaching social network to:

*Make it easier for Facebook users to read the content they’re most interested in.

*Make those who generate content that would usually not be interesting to Facebook users pay to “show up more.”

If you think about it, it becomes pretty clear that’s what is really going on here. And you can’t really blame Facebook for making these changes, or get too upset about all of it.

FB-algorythymDespite what some folks are saying about Facebook, they’re actually not in business simply to provide regular users and businesses with a free publishing platform. No, they’re here to make money. Facebook is, after all, a business. Businesses exist to make money. And they make money by making their product work well for their users – as well as by finding new ways to make even more money.

The real “problem” here is, of course, that people hate and fear change. Because when change comes, then, you know, they have to change. And it’s much easier to make big, “faceless” companies like Facebook (how’s that for irony?) or Google out to be The Bad Guy…instead of just pivoting and pressing forward.

All the hubbub and commotion over Facebook’s algorithm change isn’t much different than the reaction every time an “algo” change hits Google. When this happens, there is inevitably great gnashing of teeth and all kinds of carrying on, but in the end, people generally come to realize that the changes were all made in the spirit of making the product better while making the company more money. Neither of which you can ever really blame a company for pursuing or doing – although many people will choose to do so, especially in the “heat of the moment.”

socialmediatuneupMake no mistake here, either. Here at Fang Digital Marketing, we’re not some hopeless fanboys or paid shills for Facebook or Google. They’re just two of the biggest technology and digital marketing companies – who provide some of the biggest and best digital marketing platforms and toolboxes on the planet – we have to work with every day in our business. And they’re excellent, powerful, far-reaching and deeply-integrated companies and toolboxes, to boot.

Sure, both Facebook and Google have made their share of dumb and misguided moves. But changes like this don’t fall into that category or classification.

Not at all.

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