Jamie Butow

Monday, Nov 11 2013 04:00 PM

JAMIE BUTOW: You have to interact on Facebook to see more

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    Jamie Butow, Californian community engagement coordinator.

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By Jamie Butow

Have you ever "Liked" a page on Facebook and weeks later wondered why that person or business hadn't posted anything? Have you ever gone to their page and seen that they have been posting updates and assumed you just somehow missed them in your Facebook news feed?

You aren't necessarily missing them. Chances are they aren't showing up, thanks to Facebook's algorithm.

This is one of the things I get asked about often, and why I tend to preach it in the Levan Institute classes I teach on social media. If you want to keep seeing posts from people, you have to interact with them: Like them, share them, or comment on them. If you're a page administrator and notice the number of views and reach are dropping, it's because the content you're posting isn't driving any interaction.

One tech blogger recently wrote that a Facebook executive told him that there are more than 100,000 factors that go into what a user sees on their news feed when they log into Facebook.

That right there bugs me. There should be two factors: 1. That I've friended or liked this person or page. And 2. That I haven't hidden this person, page or app. For those who are still sending me Candy Crush invites, I'm not even seeing them. So there.

While Facebook has not explicitly said what these factors are, Facebook did say it surveyed "thousands" of its reported 1.1 billion users, asking questions to help determine what exactly makes a "high-quality" Facebook post. Facebook then used this information to make changes to its news feed ranking algorithm.

So Facebook is trying to determine what is and isn't high-quality content using a formula similar to search engine optimization techniques. Here are some general tips on how to get your posts seen:

* Be relevant

If the content you are posting isn't relevant or of interest to the user, chances are one of two things will happen: it will either never be displayed to the user because of the algorithm, or the user will see it and fail to engage.

* Don't beg

I recently read a great analogy from blogger Jordan Kasteler about asking people to like or share your posts. "You wouldn't print 100 fliers about your next sale and then ask people to simply carry them around, would you? Ideally, they would read the flier and come in for your Labor Day sale the next weekend."

* Variety is the spice of life

In the past, Facebook Pages have leaned heavily on image posts to achieve optimal visibility and thus engagement. But with the recent upsizing of the way links are displayed in the news feed, it's time to rethink link posts.

It's been said that individual users each have a preference for certain types of posts -- images, text updates or links -- so if you only share one type, you may be failing to connect with a large number of users.

Yes, Facebook reads how I interact with links, images and text, and remembers those preferences to show me more of what I like.

From the user perspective, the stories that Facebook chooses to show me are based on several factors, including my relationship with the person or entity that is posting. For instance, if Sarah regularly comments on my statuses, Facebook will make sure I see her posts. The more I interact with her statuses, the more likely it is that she'll see mine.

In their help center, Facebook notes, "The News Feed algorithm uses several factors to determine top stories, including the number of comments, who posted the story, and what type of post it is (example: photo, video, status update, etc.)."

For page administrators there's the good news: You can pay to promote your posts. Facebook writes, "It's possible that an update you post on your Page may not be shown to everyone who likes your Page because News Feed space is limited. The News Feed algorithm uses several factors to determine top stories posted by people and Pages, including the number of comments, who posted the story, and what type of post it is (ex: photo, video, status update). Experiment with different types of posts and see what your audience responds to best by checking your Page Insights. To help increase the chance that your audience will see your posts, you can promote your posts."

I friend someone and like pages because I want to see what they are posting. I shouldn't have to interact with them to make sure I see all their posts. But like so many other things online, it is what it is.

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter@JamieButow.

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