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Few people claim to understand fully how Facebook's News Feed algorithm, also called EdgeRank, actually works. But according to an article by Search Engine Watch, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how it works and how to use it would be invaluable knowledge for brands, because so many companies rely on Facebook for their marketing activities. Especially as Facebook update the algorithm on a fairly regular basis.

Facebook Provides EdgeRank Updates

Fortunately Facebook have decided to help dispel some of the ignorance surrounding EdgeRank, when it announced recently that it would provide regular updates about the algorithm as it changes. A Facebook spokesperson commented, “We are continually working to improve News Feed and from time to time we make updates to the algorithm that determines which stories appear first. We've heard from our users and page owners that we need to do a better job of communicating these updates. Starting from now, we're going to try and change that. News Feed FYI blog posts, beginning with this one, will highlight major updates to News Feed and explain the thinking behind them.”

First on the agenda is an announcement about changes that caused a “5% increase in the number of likes, comments and shares on the organic stories people saw from friends and an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw from Pages,” according to early tests from Facebook.

This update, known as 'story bumping' moves the Facebook news feed away from the usual chronological order of stories. Facebook users can now see important stories even without scrolling all the way down.

According to Facebook, this means page owners can feel confident their most popular organic page posts will get a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they're more than a few hours old.

Advertisers have no need to worry, because this change only applies to the organic side of status updates. Facebook said stories are chosen to be shown in this way if they are still receiving a lot of likes and comments. This is similar to EdgeRank's usual prioritisation technique, but done in a new way.

But rather confusingly, while the new algorithm will now prioritise certain stories out of chronological order, it will soon work to also prioritise certain updates IN chronological order.

Facebook is calling this “chronological by actor,” and it seems to be inspired by Twitter's ability to connect with events in real-time, which has long been a major weakness for Facebook.

Emulating Twitter's Live Stream Ability

Twitter is different to Facebook because it shows up-to-the-second information about what's transpiring in an event or breaking news story. Tweets don't get hidden because they didn't receive enough favorites or @ replies, so the user can watch events as they happen in real time. Twitter works best when you're following the tweets in the moment, but Facebook is best for gathering the most interesting aspects of what happened while you were absent from the platform.

Facebook claims that no matter what changes it makes to EdgeRank, everything is being done for the benefit of its users.  It's good to know that, whether you love Facebook or hate it, having better understanding of the algorithm updates will help marketers do a more effective job of promoting their brands on Facebook.

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