Social media networks were created to help people with similar interests connect and discuss a variety of topics. But the fast posting pace and the date-based organizational structure is more like shouting from a soap box than chatting with a friend over lunch.
Facebook says that when you add up stories from friends and all the posts from the people and Pages you follow, there are 1,500 potential pieces of new content for you every time you log on. No one has time for that, so it’s Facebook’s job to sort through the clutter and dig out the posts that are important to you.
It’s a tough job and we all (me included) have given them flack for presuming to know us better than we know ourselves. But this time, I think they’ve got something.
Yesterday, on the Facebook for Business blog, Lars Backstrom introduced a new tweak in the News Feed algorithm that pushes older stories higher up on the page if they’re still getting comments or likes. This makes so much sense, it’s scary.
The new set-up actually promotes conversation because it gives everyone, regardless of time zone or how often they log into Facebook, a chance to leave their comments and get a response from everyone else in the loop. As it stands now, I only see what happened in the last few hours on any post. If someone comes in and leaves an amazing response a week later, it’s already off the radar.
Mr. Backstrom says that early tests have shown very positive results:
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%.
All of this is good for marketers. An 8% increase in stories from Pages? I’ll take it. The real benefit here is the lift for recommendation posts by friends and followers. My brand post on my Page is going to land in that brand tab that people forget to look at. But if my customer writes a post about how she used the product and other people comment on that post, that’s going to rise up in the personal News Feeds. Nice.
In a related story, All Things Digital says that Facebook is experimenting with Trending Topics and other “Twitter-like” features such as an emphasis on hot news. I can’t see it. Facebook is for personal notes and fun stuff. If I’m looking for a news story, I go to Twitter.
What do you think? Could Facebook become the preferred social media news engine or should they stick to chatty notes from family and friends?