Facebook is the biggest social network today. One of the its most vital parts is News Feed, not to be confused with Wall or Timeline. It is that part of network, which you see right after logging in. News Feed contains posts from your friends, posts of people on which your friends commented or liked & it contains a whole bunch of other stuff. Put it simply: It is simply a collection of what everybody is doing, been to, photographed, captured, etc. whatever they post.
Now you know what News Feed is, it’s time you knew how it works, how Facebook decides what stories/posts you should see, how they’re ranked against each other and more. Question is why would be interested in learning the workings of Facebook’s News Feed? Many reasons could be there. However, these two are best. First, it helps you configure your News Feed in way, so that it displays stories you are interested in. Second, if you’re a fanpage manager, learning this stuff may be beneficial to your fine-tune your social media strategy.
So … let’s dive in!
What’s News Feed?
News Feed was launched in September, 2006, after two years of social network’s life. The goal of the News Feed as per official source was to provide “a personalized list of news stories throughout the day, so you’ll know when Mark adds Britney Spears to his Favorites or when your crush is single again.” Alternatively it was a collection of stories, what your friend posted, what he liked, commented on or and other top stories from the network.
With this feature in place, you would no longer have to visit each friend’s profile to see their doings. It started as simple as that.
But of course, the News Feed has to be personalized. It had to be unique for each user; accordingly his interests. Initially there was an algorithm called EdgeRank, which took notice of Affinity, Weight and Time Decay to determine which stories should be displayed to which user. Here are 3 elements of EdgeRank defined:
- Affinity – The relationship between story/content and user
- Weight – How many likes, comments and shares does the story have?
- Time Decay – How recent and trending is the story
There are more than 1500 News Feed stories taking place for any average user. Of course, there had to be some ranking methodology in place to sort and filter all these stories. It would be ridiculous to show all stories at once. Much worse would be displaying a story praising Messi to Ronaldo fans. Latter would be disaster for user experience, agree?
How it began?
Initially things were simple & only EdgeRank algorithm was in place to rank stories. Then things became complex and EdgeRank is almost not talked about. Because it doesn’t exist or doesn’t have as much importance as it used to. In early years, News Feed was just turning knobs against each other. The more turned a knob was, greatly it would impact News Feed stories. So there was a knob for photos and for other things.
As the social network grew, it was important for the News Feed to be more efficient as well. So then came EdgeRank. I have described it already. It gave users the content they would love to see and interact with.
As of now.. there are more than 100,000 weight factors that Facebook considers to sort stories in your News Feed. Not much is said about these weight factors though.