Facebook Revamps News Feed For Brands

Threatened by lower engagement rates, Facebook is fiddling with its News Feed algorithm to favor posts from users’ friends and family.

In the short term, the change could negatively impact publishers that rely on exposure in users’ Facebook feeds for viewership. In the long term, however, more engaged users could be in the publishers’ best interests.

“Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages,” Lars Backstrom, engineering director at Facebook, admits in a new blog post.

To limit likely declines, Backstrom suggests that publishers appeal to users’ tastes, and particularly their penchant for sharing content. “We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends,” Backstrom notes.

The specific impact on Page’s distribution and other metrics will probably vary depending on publishers’ audience composition.

With regard to the impact on particular pages, friends and family come first, according to Adam Mosseri, VP of product management at Facebook.

“If it’s from your friends, it’s in your feed, period,” Mosseri affirms in a separate blog post. “To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed.”

Although financially fit, Facebook’s future health depends on people sharing more personal posts.

Facebook users are posting ample content, but mostly news stories and viral videos rather than personal fare. The latter is critical to the social giant’s health because it engenders far higher engagement levels and strengthens bonds among users. 

That is why a recent report -- which found that original sharing of personal stories dropped 21% last year -- is so troubling for Facebook. Overall, recent findings from GlobalWebIndex found that users are sharing less content than ever.

Highlighting more content from fiends and family could be part of the solution. In addition, Facebook is busy repositioning itself as a live-video platform.

Indeed, it only began testing live video-streaming late last year, but is now planning to prominently place a live video tab right in its Messenger app.


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