Gather round, kids. It’s time to learn about how your content is sorted on Facebook. Better you hear it now than from those kids at school.
All Hail the Algorithm
The Facebook algorithm is the gatekeeper behind the posts you see in your newsfeed. Your Facebook experience is determined, in large part, by this mathematical equation. Formerly known as EdgeRank, the new, nameless machine algorithm takes over 100,000 factors into consideration to determine what kind of posts and which people appear at the top of your newsfeed.
We don’t know a whole lot more than that. The Facebook algorithm is comparable in secrecy to Google’s formula for ranking websites.
But, bear in mind that Facebook’s algorithm is a human invention. The employees at Facebook are responsible for its existence and are constantly applying plenty of changes to make it better.
And the most important human element, as William Oremus points out in this article from Slate, is the Facebook user.
There are plenty of ways to curate which content shows up first in your newsfeed; Facebook lets (and encourages) users to play a big role in that process.
In the short term, providing Facebook plenty of feedback and information will make your newsfeed more relevant to you. Long term, you could help Facebook make drastic improvements to its algorithm.
Dream big, right? But let’s deal with your newsfeed for now. Here are some tips for curating the content you see when you log-in to Facebook.
React– Like, Love, Etc.
Oremus makes a very insightful point about the birth of the like button on Facebook:
“The like button wasn’t just a new way for users to interact on the site. It was a way for Facebook to enlist its users in solving the problem of how best to filter their own news feeds.”
The like button has now evolved into six different reactions. Reacting to posts will establish your connection with them– it shouldn’t really matter if you react angry or sad. It’s comparable in significance to commenting and sharing.
Oh no. Do you react a lot to a page that you hate? Don’t worry, easy solution.
Destroy via Drop Down Menu
Every once in a while, a post simply does not belong.
Just kidding. There are a lot of times when posts don’t belong. Random friends from high school posting an excessive amount of memes, a news outlet that doesn’t deliver quality content, or, most famously, an ad was targeted to you for seemingly no reason.
You’re going to see tons of posts that you don’t like, and the solution is not to scroll past them and hope you never see them again.
If you aren’t already, you need to make use of the dropdown menu (currently located as an arrow on the bottom right of posts). When you find it, you’ve got several options for filtering bad content.
For your Facebook friends and business pages you like, there are four options for filtering posts out.
One is to hide a post; it goes away and you won’t see it. If there are too many of these posts, you can opt to see less from someone– their posts will now show up sparingly. If they’ve gone too far, and you’ve had enough, you can unfollow someone. You won’t see anymore content in your newsfeed from someone you unfollow.
Unfollowing is a popular option, because it preserves a friendship. You can still visit that person’s page and see their activity when you please. But if you feel the need to sever the tie for good, the fourth option is unfriending. Hopefully you don’t have to see that person on Thanksgiving!
For ads, you can hide specific ones and opt to no longer see any from a specific brand. Facebook will ask for feedback to improve the ad experience.
Providing ad feedback will yield less satisfying results, unfortunately. You can get rid of one ad, but that may not prevent one showing up that is similarly annoying. But that’s no reason to stop making your voice heard. Remember, human input is the secret sauce for big change. And big change doesn’t happen with one click.
Give someone a star
Do you wish that every time you opened Facebook you could see a status from your hilarious friend or a piece of content from that retailer you love.
Give em’ the star.
Designating someone as a close friend will literally award them a star. When Facebook is deciding what shows up at the top of your newsfeed, this friend is going to power through the pack with that star.
For businesses, you may have noticed that they get a significant disadvantage in your newsfeed. This can be frustrating, since, most of the time, you like a page because you want to see its content.
Luckily, the drop down menu for business pages gives you the option to see a post at the top of your feed when it’s posted. Just select “see first.”
Keep giving feedback
There are many, many more actions that could affect how and why people and businesses show up frequently on your newsfeed, including attending the same events, clicking the same links, etc. Plenty of theories exist on how Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm works, but some shortcuts are clear cut.
Again, if you like posts, interact with them. If you really like them, then designate the page that posted them as an important contributor in your newsfeed. If a page has bad posts, let Facebook know. Those are proven ways to curate your own newsfeed. Do them often and you’ll have a much more enjoyable time on the world’s biggest social network.