Facebook gives popular posts more attention with ‘story bump’

07/08/2013

Facebook has revamped its news feed, showing popular posts for longer as the social network looks to increase engagement on the site and appeal more to advertisers.

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Facebook said it launched the ‘Story Bump’ feature in response to its data showing that users read more of their total news feed updates if the content is interesting.

The company will now use an algorithm to determine each posts importance (such as a large number of comments and likes), rather than simply publishing a user’s friends’ posts in chronological order.

For advertisers, Facebook noted that this change does not impact how paid content appears in News Feeds.

Facebook said that every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see, and most people don’t have enough time to see them all. These stories include everything from wedding photos posted by a best friend, to an acquaintance checking in to a restaurant.

With so many stories, there is a good chance people would miss something they wanted to see if we displayed a continuous, unranked stream of information, Facebook said.

The News Feed algorithm responds to signals from you, including, for example:

• How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted

• The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular

• How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past

• Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

Facebook claims that early data shows this improves the experience of News Feed:

• In a recent test with a small number of users, this change resulted in a 5% increase in the number of likes, comments and shares on the organic stories people saw from friends and an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw from Pages

• Previously, people read 57% of the stories in their News Feeds, on average. They did not scroll far enough to see the other 43%. When the unread stories were resurfaced, the fraction of stories read increased to 70%.

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. For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they're more than a few hours old.

News Feed FYI blog

The move forms part of Facebook’s new ‘News Feed FYI’ blog feature. Following increasing levels of controversy around the algorithms used to determine exactly how News Feed works, Facebook hopes the blog will answer many users' questions.

The first blog post on News Feed FYI reads: "We are continually working to improve News Feed and from time to time we make updates to the algorithm that determines which stories appear first. We've heard from our users and Page owners that we need to do a better job of communicating these updates."

Facebook recently announced that its number of mobile users has more than doubled to 819 million, resulting in better-than-expected revenue growth.

Read the News Feed FYI blog here

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