Tip: You won't believe what Facebook just did to improve the newsfeed...
Yesterday Facebook announced a few improvements to the newsfeed.
They are trying to reduce click-bait posts like those popularized by Upworthy and similar sites that create a lot of curiosity, but tell you very little about what you are actually going to see, content wise, after you click.
Facebook also noticed that users prefer to click on link posts and not on links within photo captions like the example below:
Both of these situations (click-bait headlines and caption links) limit the information Facebook users receive before clicking on a link.
Facebook, instead, wants publishers to use the link post option more, providing more info to the user pre-click: a large image, the headline, the website, and an excerpt from the page.
Pay attention to these 3 specific changes Facebook is making to the newsfeed:
1. Link posts will now be prioritized in the newsfeed over links in captions
Because photos performed the best in the newsfeed, standard practice on Facebook has been to post links within photo captions. This practice will now be punished by Facebook.
Tip: Share fewer links in captions, or none at all. Start testing more link posts.
Tip: Because link posts are the preferred format, start including images sized for Facebook link posts in more content you plan to share on Facebook (1200 x 627 pixels).
2. Long form content might increase your newsfeed success
Facebook is measuring how much time you spend off Facebook after you click a link. If you click through and come right back to Facebook, “it suggests that they (Facebook users) didn’t find something that they wanted.” More time away will suggest to Facebook you found something of value.
Longer-form (and quality) content is going to keep user attention longer than quick hit content.
Tip: Test link posts on Facebook with longer-form content. And consider producing more longer-form content.
3. Higher engaging links will be prioritized in the newsfeed
Facebook is measuring the ratio of clicks on a link to comments/shares around that link across the site. Facebook will assume that content with high click counts, but low engagement in the way of comments and shares, is not providing much value. And content with larger share and comment counts compared to their click counts, are providing higher value to users.
Tip: Do a Facebook content audit to see which article types get the most shares and comments for your content. Some articles or videos are simply more emotional, more controversial, and more shareable than others. Test sharing the links that are the most engaging in these specific ways and Facebook will reward you.
These changes to the newsfeed are mainly designed to affect “a small set of publishers”. But these are clearly data points Facebook is tracking and qualities of content that Facebook cares about. These changes are happening based on how Facebook users interact with content. Anyone sharing links on Facebook should start testing based on these recommendations.