How Does Facebook Choose What Makes It To Your News Feed?
Updated on: 23 February 2021
Goodbye, chronological timelines. Hello, algorithmic Facebook feeds. It’s been long since I remember scrolling through every single post on my social media, back when it showed posts in the order they were uploaded. All the major social media channels – Facebook, included – have since gone the path of algorithmic news feeds.
While there was a huge uproar in those days about the sudden switch, these days, many people are embracing it. After all, who has the time to look through every single post of yet another photo of an acquaintance’s pet dog, or your least favourite colleague’s photo dump from their weekend café run? Thank God for algorithmic news feed!
Yet the mystery remains: How on earth does Facebook know which posts you’d prefer to see? What sort of signals are they using to decide what goes onto your news feed? It may seem like a stroke of genius – and it is – but we’re lucky that Facebook has been kind enough to reveal some of these nifty secrets.
A crash course on machine learning algorithms
Before we dive into the details of ranking signals, it’s worth mentioning how these algorithms work in general. Facebook feeds are powered by machine learning algorithms that ‘learn’ a user’s preferences based on their past activity. Taking this data, they then analyse and score these data to make predictions on which posts to show the user.
The advantage of having this powered by machine learning is the speed and automation of the process. Just imagine: Facebook has over 2 billion users! Machine learning removes the need to scour the content manually.
Facebook ranking signals
So, what signals do these machines look at when ranking the most suitable content to show you? It’s not just 2 or 3 signals we’re talking about, but whopping thousands of signals.
These signals work in layers, offering a multi-level filtration system to sieve out the more interesting posts to users.
Integrity of posts
I was glad to learn that one of Facebook’s first level of consideration is the integrity of the post. Contents that appear to spread misinformation are filtered out early on, helping to curb the spread of false news and scaremongering.
Format of Facebook post
Aside from the actual content, the formats of Facebook posts also affect their ranking. For example, suppose I am a person who prefers watching videos to reading text posts. I frequently ‘like’ and comment on videos more than text posts. As such, Facebook’s algorithm will remember this and will display more video posts on my feed rather than text posts.
Time of posting
Although the news feed is no longer chronological, the elements of time and recentness still factor in the ranking. This is especially so for recent posts with high engagements – these tend to be ranked higher. After all, most people still want to see posts that are fresh and up to date.
Engagement and interest
A user’s engagement habits also come into play. There are separate algorithms to determine how likely one will ‘like’ a post, and how likely one will comment on a post. Additionally, the weightage of each of these rankings is different for each user.
For example, I might be the type of person who presses ‘like’ on my friends’ posts but rarely leaves comments. In that case, the algorithms will put more emphasis on ranking posts according to how likely I will ‘like’ them, rather than based on how likely I will ‘comment’ on them.
Near the final steps of Facebook’s numerous layers of ranking algorithms, there is one more algorithm that determines the actual order of posts you see. You see, Facebook knows that users get bored easily, especially if they keep seeing repeated or similar types of content. So, this algorithm also takes into account post variety to give users a good mix.
And there you have it: a quick glimpse into how Facebook algorithms rank posts for your news feed! Apart from being an interesting trivia to know, this knowledge could also come in very helpful if you are dealing with digital marketing in Singapore. Think about it: If I now know what type of posts my target audience enjoys, I could craft my brand’s posts in that direction to maximise reach and engagement!
Using Facebook as part of your marketing strategy is full of potentials, but there’s also a lot to consider. That’s why there are social media marketing agencies in Singapore to help you! Link up with our social media team today to bump up your online presence with our social media management and advertising services in Singapore!