Facebook Adjusts the News Feed Algorithm (Again)

Facebook is looking to improve the News Feed by asking its members to give feedback on the content they see when they visit the social network.

Through its Feed Quality Panel initiative, Facebook is asking over a thousand people to rate their experience every day and tell the social network how it can improve on the content that is displayed in members' News Feeds. In addition, Facebook notes that it surveys tens of thousands of people around the world every day to learn more about how well its ranking each person's feed. According to Facebook, it asks each person to rate stories from one to five stars in response to the question "how much did you want to see this story in your News Feed?" From this research, the social network says it is better able to understand which stories people are interested in seeing near the top of their News Feed even if they choose not to interact with the content. Facebook then uses this information to make ranking changes.

Historically, Facebook has ranked content bases on interactions such as liking, clicking, commenting or sharing, but these interactions don't necessarily mean that the content is meaningful to the social network's members.

"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," Facebook said in its announcement. "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. 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."

Facebook also addresses how its new algorithm change might impact Pages. According to the social network, the impact on story distribution will vary depending on each Page's audience and posting activity. That said, the update should not significantly impact reach or referral traffic for the majority of Pages.

"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," said Facebook.

It is also important to note that Facebook suggests that Pages avoid encouraging people to take action, such as encouraging lots of clicks. This is because doing so will likely cause a temporary spike in metrics that might end up being rebalanced by the feed's ranking over time. What's more, Facebook says that as its algorithm change takes effect, it will be learning about what possible factors or posting strategies may lead to increases or declines in referral traffic, and that it will communicate these findings with its partners. Overall, however, Facebook says that Pages should continue to post things that their audience finds meaningful.