Facebook Explains their News Feed Update: Ranking Metrics, Well-being, and More

Megan O'Neill


Earlier this month Facebook announced an algorithm shift, putting the emphasis on content that helps people have more meaningful social interactions. The news has left a lot of small businesses wondering what it means for their futures on Facebook.

Ultimately, only time will truly tell what these changes mean for your business, but the week of the announcement our Chief Video Officer Jason Hsiao shared his perspective on our blog. Jason said that, “as a small business, you should continue to create content around your passions that inspires, educates, and entertains—content that is valuable to viewers and encourages engagement and conversations.” We still believe this to be true.

Jason also promised that we’d be sharing more information as these changes unfold. So today we’re here to share some insights, straight from Facebook, into how the new algorithm will be defining “meaningful social interactions,” as well as why Facebook thought it was important to make this change.

What will you see in the News Feed?

In a Help Center article, with an accompanying video that you may have seen displayed at the top of your News Feed this week when you logged into Facebook, the social network shared that, “Posts that you see in your News Feed are meant to keep you connected to the people, places and things that you care about, starting with your friends and family.”

Mark Hull, Director of Product Management at Facebook, says that over the next year, the company’s mission is “to help you have deeper, more meaningful interactions with people you care about.” To this end, they’ll be giving more weight to a few different types of content and interactions:

  • Likes, comments, and shares: Engaging with a post through liking, commenting, or sharing indicates to Facebook that a post matters to you, so posts you interact with get higher ranking scores.

  • Person-to-person interactions: Interactions between two people will be more valuable than interactions between a person and a page. If the other person is in your network, it will be given a bigger boost because, Mark Hull says, “interacting with people you’re close to is more meaningful.”

  • Exchanges that reflect time and care: Lauren Scissors, Head of News Feed Research, says that shared interactions on Facebook are associated with a greater sense of well-being, “and the benefits are even stronger when you’re close to the person and the interaction requires some effort.” Long and thoughtful replies will be weighted more heavily.

With these changes, Hull says, “Over time, we believe people will see more posts from people they’re connected to, and less content from publishers. We also expect overall time spent on Facebook to go down. But our goal is that the time people do spend on Facebook will be better.”

But what about businesses?

In a News Feed FYI, shared to the Facebook Newsroom, Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, shared the following statement:

Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.

We’d like to emphasize that last sentence: “Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” The key is sharing content that adds value and sparks conversation.

In response to the question of whether Facebook was eliminating Page posts from the News Feed, he said, “No. This update is not the same as the recent tests where all Page content was moved to the Explore Tab. Page posts will still appear in News Feed, though there may be fewer of them.”

Jason from Animoto had the chance to speak with Julie Bawden Davis for an article on American Express OPEN Forum last week, Will the Facebook Algorithm Change Affect Your Business?

In that article, Jason shared that, “Ultimately, this shift is about shedding the less-than-useful and less-than-relevant content that’s been creeping into the news feed. Facebook is focusing on how people spend time on the platform to connect with the people who matter to them. So as long as businesses create relevant content that their communities care about, they’ll win.”

“Focus on what message and content your community needs to know and/or cares about. Then use all of your available channels to deliver that message and content.”

In case you missed Jason’s last article, here are some tips he shared:

  • Provide value. First and foremost, make sure you’re providing value. Post content that customers will want to share, like, and have conversations around in the comments.
  • Quality over quantity. Don’t worry about getting videos up just for the sake of getting them up. Instead, spend your time on creating relevant videos your audience will care about. Relevant content to a relevant audience will always win out in the long term.
  • Have conversations. Don’t just post a video and walk away. You should be joining in the conversation too. If someone comments, respond.
  • Ask questions. Create interactions and communicate with people who share your passions.
  • Utilize Facebook’s ad targeting. Facebook Ads Manager isn’t going anywhere, and you should still be able to get your videos in front of a relevant audience using their great targeting tools.
  • Tap your personal network. Try sharing a video from your business page to your personal page and let your friends get the conversation started.
  • Continue using Instagram. Continue to establish your presence on Instagram. Instagram is growing fast and there’s lots of opportunity to create conversations and get in front of potential customers there as well.
  • Continue to stand out with video. Video continues to get further reach and engagement than other types of content. Take advantage of this trend.

Facebook’s research on well-being

If you’re still trying to understand why Facebook has decided to make these changes, it’s important to understand the company’s stance on well-being.

In his initial Facebook post about the algorithm shift, Mark Zuckerberg noted, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.

In December, Facebook’s David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist, shared an article called Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us? The article was an early indicator of this shift, and shared that, “We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions with your friends and family — enhancing your relationships offline, not detracting from them.”

In a video, they shared insights into how the Facebook team conducts research and shed some light on the good and the bad effects of social media. These findings are the impetus for this major News Feed change.

Something important to keep in mind is that, with these changes, Facebook is ultimately looking to make their customers happier and more engaged. They are looking to hide the content that isn’t adding value and boost the content that genuinely makes people feel good. Small businesses should strive to add value, spark conversations, and contribute to the well-being of potential customers on Facebook.

We’ll be following closely as this unfolds and sharing updates, as well as insights into our own tests and experience with the new Facebook News Feed.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences too. Share them with us in the comments below, or join the conversation in the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community Facebook group.