How to Use the News Feed Algorithm for Your Facebook Marketing Campaign

By Jamie Crager, Scott Ayres, Melanie Nelson, Daniel Herndon, Jesse Stay

You may have noticed that your news feed doesn’t display items chronologically. This is because the News Feed algorithm ranks that content. Facebook uses that algorithm to determine whether specific content will be of interest to you. Facebook looks at how you interact with others and with content and makes assumptions based on those actions.

Facebook is pretty closed-lipped about its News Feed algorithm, it seems that Facebook appears to rank actions based on the level of effort it takes to interact, but it appears to rank content based on the number of interactions. For instance, Likes are easy to give and require little effort on the reader’s part. Comments, however, take more effort and are rewarded accordingly.

Likewise, Facebook tends to reward certain content more than others. Facebook users are more likely to engage with photos or video than text updates. So Facebook gives a higher ranking to video or photos. Facebook tends to rank content in this order:

  • Photos

  • Video

  • Links

  • Text

Understanding how the News Feed Algorithm works

Facebook users have their own algorithm for each bit of content they consume. As you can imagine, that can make it hard for your content to show up in everyone’s news feed. Each person interacts with content, pages, and people differently, and therefore, has his or her own version of ranking based on those actions.

The News Feed algorithm uses many variables. Following are three of the more important ones:

  • Affinity: The relationship between a content creator and a content consumer. The affinity factor changes over time, depending on how a user interacts with content. Affinity is determined by many things, such as how often a user

    • Logs in to Facebook

    • Interacts with content from another user or business page

    • Clicks Like on content

    • Types comments on content

    • Clicks the Share option for content

    Facebook keeps track of how a user interacts with content. When a user is consistently engaged with content from another Facebook user or business page, the affinity is high. If the user ignores content, the affinity begins to wane and can become low. When affinity is low, it’s less likely that content from the ignored user or page shows up in the user’s news feed as a highlighted story.

  • Weight: Facebook determines the weight of an update and its engagement depending on how much effort it takes to complete. It takes the most effort for a user to share a post created by someone else with his own audience, so shares weigh more than a Like. It takes a little more effort to post a video than a text update, so video weighs more.

    Facebook considers photos and videos as having the most weight, followed by links and then text updates. For engagement, shares have the most weight, followed by comments and then Likes.

    Even though Facebook no longer calls its algorithm EdgeRank, you can still visit EdgeRank Checker, a website devoted to researching Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. EdgeRank Checker found that comments appear to have four times the weight of Likes. What that means is that when a user took the time to leave a comment, the content had four times as many clicks than when the user just Liked the content.

  • Time — decay: How long an object has been out there. The older your post, the more decayed it is. Posts that are old lose their edge and weight and count less. You need to post more than once a day. However, don’t re-post the same information multiple times a day. Instead, post varied, relevant content throughout the day, especially at peak times.

Check your Insights to determine how time of day is affecting interaction on your posts.

Using rank to improve your news feed position

Facebook uses each of the three variables above to ascribe a rank for each user. To make the most of your ranking, you need to do three things:

  • Determine who your audience is. When you know to whom you’re talking, you can customize your updates to meet their needs. By sharing content your audience wants, you increase your affinity with them.

  • Create and post content that encourages feedback and engagement. The kind of content you post is directly related to knowing your audience. When you know who your audience is and what they want from you, find new ways to give them that content. If you usually post text status updates, try sharing video or photos. Regardless of the type of content you share, provide a specific call to action.

  • Post when your audience is looking. It doesn’t do much good if you’re posting great content at times when people don’t see it. You may have a great idea at 2:00 a.m., but if you post it then, few followers will see it. Instead, write it down and post it later. Use your Insights to see whether you can find a pattern of when your audience is most active.

To improve your audience engagement, you need to post content that people want to interact with. The keys to a loyal and interactive community are solving a problem, educating your audience, and entertaining your audience.

You need to have clear goals in mind and know how you’re going to achieve those goals. Use calls to action, post links that promote sales, and tag other business pages in your status updates if it makes sense. When you tell your audience what you want them to do and provide a way for them to do it, they’re more likely to follow through.

And if you’re sharing a link to a post by another brand, tag its business page in your status update. Your update will be seen by that business pages’ followers as well — which enhances your overall reach.