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Facebook Finally Opens Hood On News Feed Rankings

Facebook Reveals Why Organic Posts Are Ranking For Users

The exact machinations of the Facebook News Feed are a mystery to users and many marketers alike.

However, in the coming weeks, both may get a better understanding of Facebook’s algorithmic rankings with the rollout of the new ‘Why am I seeing this post?’ feature on News Feed content.

The new feature is similar, in principle, to the “Why am I seeing this ad?” feature, which has appeared next to ads since 2014.

The goal of the new feature is to help users better understand, and more easily control, what they see from friends, Pages and Groups in their News Feed.

While feed rankings are tailored to each user, Marketers and page admins will inevitably find this a handy snooping feature.

Why Am I Seeing Nickleback In My Feed?

Users will be able to access “Why am I seeing this post?” as a drop-down menu in the right-hand corner of organic posts (just like with ads).

It will display information about how Facebook’s algorithm has decided to rank the post, including:

  • Why users are seeing a certain post in their News Feed — for example, if the post is from a friend they made, a Group they joined or a Page they followed
  • What information generally has the largest influence over the order of posts, including:
  1. How often they interact with posts from people, Pages or Groups
  2. How often they interact with a specific type of post, for example, videos, photos or links
  3. The popularity of the posts shared by the people, Pages and Groups they follow

The dropdown will also include shortcuts to controls, such as See FirstUnfollowNews Feed Preferences and Privacy Shortcuts, to help users personalise their News Feed.

Why The Sudden Push For News Feed Transparency?

The new ‘Why am I seeing this post?’ feature is the first time Facebook has built information on how ranking works directly into the app.

While Facebook provides a topline view on rankings, much like Google does with Search, it has never revealed the secret sauce to this extent.

However, given the heat it’s feeling at the moment from government, regulators, advertisers, media and users, it is hardly a surprising move.

Facebook is in a world of trouble, and it knows it.

Mark Zuckerberg is currently on a charm offensive in the EU and is bending over backwards to appease angry Brussels bureaucrats hellbent on shackling the US tech giant.

They are offering everything from paying for journalists to produce news content to explicitly asking for regulation – which it wants to steer on its own terms. Cheeky Zuck.

‘Why Am I Seeing This Ad’ expansion

Alongside the latest News Feed update is an expansion of the previously mentioned “Why am I seeing this ad?” feature.

For those advertisers who use first-party data for targeting, via Custom Audiences, Facebook will now disclose even more details related to targeting practices, via the top right dropdown.

Facebook added Custom Audience details to the “Why am I seeing this ad?” notification in News Feed ads in February.

Building on the recent update, users can now see:

  1. If they are being targeted with ads via their data
  2. When a Custom Audience list was uploaded
  3. If the advertiser worked with marketing partners to run the ad

With this latest update, advertisers will need to stay on top of their Custom Audience list targeting practices. Implementing quality control measures to keep their social data squeaky clean. Ensuring that agencies and/or any relevant third parties have accurate, up-to-date data to work with.

Lest sloppy data practices come back to haunt them like it has Mark Zuckerberg…

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