Facebook News Feed: How Does It Work?

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get about Facebook is ‘how does the Facebook News Feed work?’

This is closely follow by ‘how do I get more people to see my posts on Facebook?’

Let us start by remembering WHY people join Facebook… It is to connect with friends and communities of likeminded people. Nobody joins Facebook to be sold to.

Of the thousands of potential stories Facebook could show you each day, it tries its best to determine the ones you are likely to be most interested in. After all, Facebook’s primary content objective is to create happy Facebook users!

Every piece of content on Facebook is assessed by the News Feed algorithm, in order to answer one key question: Which stories are likely to matter most to each Facebook member?

News Feed is an algorithm

In other words, it is a formula that follows a set of steps to assess the content you share. The four essential steps of the Facebook News Feed algorithm are Inventory, Signals, Predictions and Score.

New Feed Inventory

Facebook looks at the stories that have been posted by each user’s friends and the Pages they follow and compiles them into an inventory of available content.

Stories shown on the News Feed are primarily selected from this inventory.

New Feed Signals

In order to filter the inventory and show the most appropriate content, Facebook take into consideration details such as the person or page who posted the story, when it was posted and well as your current viewing environment (e.g. how fast is your current internet connection?)

New Feed Predictions

The News Feed algorithm processes all of the available signals to predict how likely a user is to engage with each piece of content they are delivered.

Is this person likely to comment on this story?

Facebook assesses each story and tries to evaluate how long a user is likely to spend consuming a piece of content and if they will react to it or share it with other Facebook users.

Examples of things Facebook will try to predict:

  • Likelihood to click
  • Likelihood to spend time with this story
  • Likelihood to like, comment and share
  • Likelihood you’ll find this informative
  • Likelihood this is clickbait
  • Likelihood this links to a low-quality web page

New Feed Score

Based on the three steps above, Facebook will then assign a relevancy score to each piece of content, based on its intended audience, the available inventory, news feed signals and predictions of likely engagement.

Facebook calculates a relevancy score for every story, every time a user opens their News Feed.

The stories displayed are selected based on the relevancy score.

Relevancy score is increased when a post receives greater interaction or is posted by a Page that a user often visits or interacts with.

How to get more views and engagement on your content

In May 2017, Facebook published a set of three principles for content publishers, the goal of the Facebook News Feed is to “connect people to the stories they care about most”.

The principles are:

#1 – People on Facebook Value Meaningful, Informative Stories
#2 – People on Facebook Value Accurate, Authentic Content
#3 – People on Facebook Value Standards for Safe, Respectful Behavior

In summary, you need to have a clear understanding of the dilemmas and desires of your audience and publish content that they will find useful and meaningful.

The biggest mistake I see business making is to only publish ‘buy my stuff’ style posts. If you want engagement on your Facebook posts and to build an audience who know, like and trust you, stop advertising and start adding value.