Warc, 8 August 2013
SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook, the social media giant, has announced that it is adjusting its News Feed algorithm so that popular stories from users' friends can be pushed to the top of their feeds.
The company said initial tests of "story bumping", which prioritises posts from a user's friends that have attracted a lot of interactions above those that may be newer but have fewer interactions, resulted in a 5% increase in likes, shares and comments. It also led to an 8% increase of similar interactions for stories and posts from Pages.
The change could have implications for marketers who promote brand pages with a large number of followers, because if stories are deemed to be less interesting, and attract fewer likes and shares, then it will be less likely they will resurface in feeds.
The process of "story bumping" is in response to the fact that, on an average day, users only view about 20% of total posts from friends and Pages.
Facebook said users have roughly 1,500 posts each day from friends and pages they follow, but only about 300 of these appear in users' feeds because otherwise they would otherwise find the number of stories overwhelming.
Under the new system, Facebook will examine which recent stories have not been seen by users and try to assess which of them are more interesting, pushing them to the top of the feed even if they are older stories.
Tests also showed an increase from 57% of potentially visible stories read to 70%, which means users are reading a higher proportion of their stories.
"The data suggests that this update does a better job of showing people the stories they want to see, even if they missed them the first time," Facebook said.
Lars Backstrom, of Facebook's News Feed team, also announced two more changes. "Last Actor" will look at the 50 people users most recently interacted with and then show more of them in the feed over the short-term.
And "Chronological By Actor" will show rapid real-time updates – for example, from a friend attending a sports match – in chronological order so the most recent update is seen first.
Data sourced from techcrunch.com, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN; additional content by Warc staff