Decoding the Facebook algorithm

Brands on Facebook are a lot like teenagers in high school; both crave popularity.

Conventional wisdom teaches us that to be popular you need to be seen fraternising with the cool kids.

A recent study by The Daily Beast, however, reveals the quickest way to become popular on Facebook is to do the opposite.

The Daily Beast outlines a one-month experiment into Facebook’s news feed algorithm aimed at decoding why one member’s news is more prominent than another’s.

The experiment centres around a newly set-up page, which is befriended by a select group of people, monitoring to see how much the page features in their feeds.

The Daily Beast found the Facebook algorithm favoured established members over newcomers, with absolutely none of the page’s news appearing in feeds initially.

It was only when the friends began interacting – clicking on the page, browsing through pictures, leaving comments etc. that news started to appear in their feeds; page interaction and news feed visibility was directly correlated.

The Daily Beast also found that a status update carried a much greater chance of appearing in a news feed if it included a link to an external web page. 

Throughout the experiment the ‘popular’ friends never received any of the page’s news, which meant they never clicked-through, browsed pictures, left comments or clicked on links – all of the things that fuel the Facebook algorithm.

The takeout for brands on Facebook? Start small. Friends with low-level followings are the crucial first rung up the algorithm, only once a presence has been established does it make sense to go after Facebook popularity domination.

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