This article was published on November 16, 2012

Facebook: your News Feed is for engaging content, Pages Feed is for everything else interesting

Facebook: your News Feed is for engaging content, Pages Feed is for everything else interesting

Facebook has shared some insights into just how content appears in your News Feed and what’s important to you. At its monthly whiteboarding session, the social network talked about the algorithm it uses in order to display content. The company hopes that by doing so, it will help people discover content that is most interesting to them in the short amount of time they have.

The social network announced earlier this week that it was rolling out a dedicated Pages Feed section to the site where users could get insights into the latest news from brands and businesses that they like. This feature is currently being rolled out to its users and if you don’t have it now, it should roll out eventually. At first glance, when you look at the Pages Feed, it might seem to be confusing — what was the point in having the content from pages a user has subscribed to be duplicated in this section while also being on the News Feed?

Facebook recognizes this and explains it this way: your News Feed is the place where you’re going to be able to find the most engaging content. The Pages Feed is for all the other interesting content you might want to read from Pages that you like or subscribe to.

Facebook Pages Feed

An example given by Facebook is if Yoda has “Liked” several pages, such as Darth Vader, the Empire, and the Rebel Alliance. Based on three specific criteria, Yoda might see relevant content at the top of his News Feed from Darth Vader and the Rebel Alliance pages, but not necessarily from the Empire.

So what is the criteria that Facebook uses to determine what content is more prominent than the other? First, its algorithm looks at the reaction by the user to the publisher: how interested is Yoda, in this example, be to understand that in the Vader page, there was content that listed Luke as Vader’s son (sorry if I ruined the movie for you). The next thing that’s looked at is the reaction by other people to the post: have the Emperor and Leia responded to the post and what is their relationship to Yoda. Lastly, Facebook looks at how people reacted to other “relationship” stories.

For those negatively-viewed posts (e.g. those that have complaints or are hidden), the service has a system in place that would “penalize” them so that a user won’t see them at the top of the page as a result of it — you might think of it as a semantic search.

Brands that have Pages on Facebook will find that they won’t be able to gauge how interesting or engaging their posts are through the Pages Feed. Currently, there’s no way for a Pages owner to know whether a specific post has been seen in a user’s News Feed or if it’s been demoted to the Pages Feed. Facebook says that right now it’s not a part of its Pages Insight feature.

Facebook says that the Pages Feed has a totally different theme from the News Feed.  It is continuously working to improve the algorithm in order to help bring the right content to the people.

Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images

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