In a bid to deliver a more meaningful News Feed experience to its over 1.5 billion users, social networking giant Facebook is set to change the way it works after analysing feedback from a latest survey.
According to a blog post from Facebook software engineers Cheng Zhang and Si Chen, from the research using a representative sample of people, they are able to better understand which stories people would be interested even if they choose not to click, like or comment on them - and use this information to make ranking changes.
"The actions people take on Facebook - liking, clicking, commenting or sharing a post - are historically some of the main factors considered to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed. But these factors don't always tell us the whole story of what is most meaningful to you," they wrote.
The changes in Facebook's algorithm come from a survey Facebook conducted recently. The participants were asked to suggest how Facebook can improve the content they get in their News Feed. "We saw through our research that people reported having a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories they are both likely to rate highly if asked and likely to engage with," Zhang and Chen wrote.
"We are making an update to News Feed that combines these two signals. News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that you would want to see the story at the top of your feed and the probability that you will like, comment on, click or share a story," the post added.
"We will rank stories higher in feed which we think people might take action on, and which people might want to see near the top of their News Feed," the Facebook team noted. The impact of these changes on a story's distribution will vary depending on the composition of the audience and posting activity. In general this update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of Pages.
However, some Pages may see some increases in referral traffic and some Pages may see some declines in referral traffic. "Pages might see some declines in referral traffic if the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed.
This update helps rebalance those two factors, so people are seeing relevant stories to them," the post further said. In general, Pages should avoid encouraging people to take an action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed's ranking over time.
"As this change takes effect, we'll be learning about what possible factors or posting strategies may lead to increases or declines in referral traffic, and we are committed to communicating with our partners about those findings," Facebook said.