Advice from Unofficial Guide to FB Privacy and Security – News Feeds


Advice from Unofficial Guide to FB Privacy and Security – News Feeds

 

Is Facebook’s News Feed update default harming the businesses who pay for advertising?

Facebook recently changed its default news feed settings.  Users will now only see posts from pages and friends who according to Facebook, they interact with most.  Businesses with Facebook pages such as Starbucks with almost 20 million likes and Coca Cola with over 22 million Facebook ‘fans’ might be paying a pretty penny to Facebook for advertising their page, but how many of them will actually see their next update?
Facebook’s news feed algorithms are a complex and only those with true dedication and grit have sought to crack the code.  Such dedication was seen when the Daily Beast released their ‘Cracking The Facebook Code‘ report in October 2010 which stated:

“The social-networking giant promises to keep us connected with our friends in exchange for pumping a steady diet of advertising at us—but the algorithms Facebook uses to decide what news to pass along can seem capricious or altogether impenetrable. The Daily Beast’s one-month experiment into Facebook’s news feed yielded the following discoveries:”
  • A bias against newcomers
  • “Most Recent” doesn’t tell the whole story.
  • Links are favored over status updates, and photos and videos trump links.
  • “Stalking” your friends won’t get you noticed.
  • Raise your visibility by getting people to comment.
  • It’s hard to get the attention of “popular kids.”

Facebook then went one step further to decrease news feed posts and set the default on ‘Most Recent’ ‘Friends and Pages you interact with most‘ – stories to



In theory this means that the people you rarely speak to won’t be shown in your news feed and the people an pages you interact with most will.  But can a computer be trusted to work out who you want to hear from?  And is the reason you haven’t interacted with someone because Facebook isn’t showing you their posts?
Users can change the default setting to show ‘All of your friends and pages‘.  But who is telling them how?  Facebook isn’t.  And if Facebook or a friend posts an update advising users on how to make sure they don’t miss any posts, the chances are that half won’t see it because they are already invisible to them.
Pages have insights, a collection of statistics provided by Facebook including the percentage of fans who had their updates in their  news feeds.   According to Facebook it has over 500 million active users and 50% of active users log into Facebook on any given day.
On January 26 2011 Starbucks posted information about their new ecard.  Considering that almost 20 million users like the page, which according to Facebook would mean that almost 10 million should log in to see it, less than 8000 people interacted with that post.    I would be interested to know if the insights for that post revealed that considerable less than 50% saw that post.  And if so, Starbucks should be asking Facebook why millions of people who like their page don’t get to see what they post.  I also noted that Coca Cola’s post interactions vary wildly, some only having less than a hundred people comment/ like it while others have over 8000.  On a page with over 22 million fans, the question has to be raised, how many people are actually seeing these updates?
Should businesses paying for advertising space to get users to like their page start to ask Facebook why more of those people aren’t seeing their posts?  Isn’t that the point of getting those people to the page in the first place?
Facebook does a remarkably good job at deciding what its users want to see, what new products they should be opted into, and what privacy settings they should have enabled by default.  It seems a crying shame that the company with 600 million users doesn’t connect and share with all of them to let them in on their decisions.  I suppose for all the businesses who are paying Facebook hefty sums for more ‘likes’  will just have to hope that some of their informative posts get through the coded net.
Or perhaps they should all ask Facebook to set its news feed default to ‘All of your friends and pages‘ so their ad fees aren’t as wasted as the time spent sending out updates to people who may never see them, and let the users decide for themselves who to ignore.

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