A recent tweak to Facebooks News Feed algorithm may mean more of what you want when you log in.
According to the company, youll now see fewer third party app stories posted to your News Feed, which means that there will be more stories from family, friends, and acquaintances pushed toward the top of the list.
The companys reasoning is that users are sometimes confused when they see posts they dont expect or care about, such as those from some third party applications.
While this kind of implicit sharing has increased over the past decade, in recent years Facebook has changed the News Feed algorithm numerous times in an effort to please consumers and maintain the platforms value.
The move may have an effect on companies or viral sites that use Facebook for marketing, since companies pages or ads will appear less frequently in the News Feed.
Some have suggested this is a move by the social media giant to push those companies into buying ads on the site, instead.
Explicit, Not Implicit, Posts
In explaining the new Facebook algorithm, the company said they would prioritize explicitly shared stories from apps in News Feed over implicitly shared stories.
In other words, you wont be seeing as many scores from Candy Crush, ads from Pinterest or promotions for sportswear.
While, in the past, the News Feed algorithm has included so-called implicit posts, based on your likes, previous clicks, and engagement with certain friends, theyre dialing that down. Instead, youll only see the third party stories that your Facebook friends choose to share; the company calls those stories explicit posts.
Facebook hopes to make the user experience more positive by way of the algorithm change, noting that theyve heard that people often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared without taking an explicit action.
Instead, those implicitly shared third party posts, such as a score on FarmVille, will only appear on your profile.
A Better News Feed
According to InformationWeek, the move is consistent with other recent changes at Facebook meant to enhance News Feed satisfaction.
In April, for instance, the company tweaked the algorithm to cut down on the number of times people saw viral videos or photos, which might previously have appeared on the feed over and over again.
Testing suggested that the change made people hide 10 percent fewer stories on the site.
Targeting third party apps comes from an increase in how often people mark those as spam, according to Facebook strategist Peter Yang.
Yang noted that the number of implicitly shared posts has declined over the last year as users have marked them as spam, leading the company to redesign its algorithm to make better use of the News Feed and redirect marketers.
Some of those companies that use Facebook as a means of attracting site visitors are less than happy with the new algorithm.
Joseph Tam, a senior director of digital media at the MEC agency, noted that while Facebook has been very vocal in expressing that such changes are in the name of protecting the user experience it remains to be seen what the impact and reaction will be from marketers.
In particular, businesses may be frustrated with Facebooks seeming prioritization of users over them.
One of the anticipated impactsand one that some suggest has been engineered by the social media companyis that marketers will be pushed to buy ad space on the site, rather than essentially getting free advertising by way implicit posts that are based on users previous clicks and site visits.
However, it remains to be seen whether companies will pony up for that space.
Companies may also adjust their interaction with Facebooks Open Graph platform, which is used to promote third party content. By embedding explicit actions into their content on Open Graph, companies may be able to push that content to the News Feed, according to InsideFacebook.
As users and marketers gradually adjust to the new look of News Feed in coming weeks, well be better able to assess whether Facebooks turn away from implicit marketing pays off.