Facebook recently launched a number of features geared towards improving the overall user experience.

Some of these are of particular relevance to businesses. A recent announcement from the social networking giant about introducing more relevant articles and news stories in the News Feeds is a case in point.

In order to further fill users’ News Feeds with articles that are of interest and relevance to them, Facebook created a new ranking algorithm that will usher in a greater amount of relevant content by tracking the time they spend reading the articles in their feeds.

It will predict the time it would take for a user to read through an article once it opens in their mobile browser.

“We are adding another factor to News Feed ranking so that we will now predict how long you spend looking at an article in the Facebook mobile browser or an Instant Article after you have clicked through from News Feed.”

More Articles You Want to Spend Time Viewing

Once the algorithm gains an understanding of the amount of time a user spends on certain articles, the user will find more of similar stories in their News Feed.

To content creators and marketers this means:

Continue to create quality content that you know your audience loves

If your content isn’t finding the right audience, your efforts are in vain.

As Facebook tweaks its algorithm or makes new updates, content that doesn’t engage its target audience will find less and less takers. (To learn what exactly constitutes great content, please see our earlier post on the matter. Creating tailored content for a specific audience isn’t difficult, but it does require smart research on your part.)

Businesses that understand their market, their audience and are already producing useful content should continue with these practices. Those who tend to cut corners in this regard might want to rethink their approach. Resourceful and/or entertaining content is ubiquitous now. In fact, businesses are expected to produce engaging material on a regular basis to be deemed credible. There is no excuse for half-baked content anymore.

Be judicious in the timing of your posts

So you produce awesome videos and research-backed blog posts regularly. But there still can be too much of a good thing.

Facebook has taken note that their audience doesn’t necessarily enjoy reading back-to-back articles from the same source, even when the source itself is reliable and the content is top-notch. It will therefore be making an update to reduce the number of times posts from the same source appear in a feed.

People prefer to read diverse posts. This is not difficult to understand. There are so many interesting topics in the world to read about, and every business and media publication is on Facebook. News Feeds are typically crowded. And unlike on Twitter these sundry articles are fighting for attention with posts and updates from friends and families of the users, with the latter more likely to consume a typical Facebook user’s attention anyway.

It is one thing to produce content on a daily basis and quite another to share all of it on social platforms multiple times a day. If you push out too many articles in a short period of time, it could affect your reach.

You might want to share only the best of your articles or space them out in a way that each article is given the exposure it needs but without crowding news feeds. If Facebook has considered displaying lesser number of same-source articles, other social networks might follow, too.

This can be a good thing since this update aims to value quality over quantity.

Content won’t get ranked on the basis of length

This is great news for businesses that don’t think lengthy articles are always warranted in their niche. Sometimes a short post can also drive home a big point.

The quality of a post will be determined by the amount of time a user spends looking at it – agreed this might be greater when it comes to long articles, but Facebook itself isn’t going to treat any length preferentially. The relevance of the article to the user will ultimately decide how it gets ranked.

Users will naturally spend more time on articles that are interesting to them. They might comment on it as well, thus increasing the amount of time spent on that page. The new update will take this as proof positive of the user liking that article and more similar ones will then appear in his/her feed.

The focus is on greater overall engagement

Time and again we find more reasons to pour our energies into quality content that reaches the right people and makes a difference to their lives. Content that engages people. This is yet another reminder of where to direct our focus.

What do you make of this new development? How or will it impact your content strategy? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Pete Peranzo

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